Today, in the most unexpected way, I learned that the key to success is not having alot of money, or charisma, or even knowing the scriptures backward and forward. In my head, I think I knew that. But knowing what something is not…is not the same as know what something is. Now I know. In God’s economy…in His Kingdom…the key to authentic success is gratefulness.
Strange, right? I thought so, too. I kept thinking, “Isn’t gratefulness a product of success and not the other way around?”
As I said before, it was rather unexpected the answer that came to me. I woke up this morning and, as I have often done since I was teenager, decided to steam my face. I have to admit that the way I do this is rather rudimentary. No fancy contraption for me. Just a big towel and the sink. Leaning over the sink, under my makeshift shroud, I allowed my pores to open and my head got that familiar, funny feeling like someone had just tipped over the stress dominoes and they were rippling down the back of neck and out of my body. That’s when I thought about how priviledged I was to be able to steam my face.
I know. It doesn’t seem like much but I assure you, as I finished my pseudo-facial and jumped in a hot, steamy shower, thankfulness pushed its way past all of the possible choices for a New Year’s resolution.
I heard in my Spirit…”Just be thankful.” And somehow, it just clicked. Thankfulness, manifested as contentment, is a pre-cursor of success and not a byproduct.
The key to my success, personally and professionally, is my ability to be thankful for where I am. Yes, my husband and I need a new mattress but, thank God we are one of the ones who have a place to lay our heads. Yes, I would love that fly, 2009 three-lettered SUV but I’m so incredibly blessed that my 2001 Neon runs just fine. Oh what joy would it be to sell 100,000+ copies of my upcoming book but what an even greater joy it will be to God to bless one person’s life or to garner one soul for Him.
When we open ourselves up to contentment, that challenging ability to abase and abound as the apostle Paul mentions, we also open ourselves up for God to use us more. This is because, in that space, He can trust that whatever we have, however big or small in our eyes, will be used for His glory and at His will…not our own. Gratefulness is a form of surrender, I believe. It also implies flexibility (a must-have trait in these weird times). It allows God’s sovereign purpose to be fulfilled in our lives regardless of what that looks like to us or other people. Our contentment allows His will be to be done without hinderence, without Him having to coddle or comfort us because our flesh has grown attached to people, places, and things that He only intended for us to experience temporarily.
Don’t get me wrong. I know God understands that we are emotional creatures (Yes, men too. Just about different things and manifested in different ways). I believe that God’s grace and mercy covers our tendency to allow our soul (mind, will, and emotions) to connect to those people, places, and things; allowing us time to heal when we are seperated from them. But I also wonder (yes, even while steaming my face) if we would move faster from assignment to assignment, from triumph to trials and back again, if we were simply grateful for wherever we were at any given time and content in all things. Isn’t that why someone with nothing can die a success in the eyes of those who know them and someone with everything can still die a failure?
So that’s my resolution for 2009. To be grateful. To be content. If I can do this, then I do not doubt that success as He sees it will follow.