I saw this piece of advice the other day that really stopped me in my tracks: Try being totally average at some things.
At first I was offended because why should I have to settle for average? Settle for normal?
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized what a freeing thought it might be, to truly release myself from the obsession of needing to succeed in every conceivable way. Because, how often do we not stop to think about the kind of pressure we are constantly subjecting ourselves to? Where we overwhelm ourselves with the need to achieve, we not only develop tunnel vision on catering exclusively to ourselves, but we swell with pride, in self-impression or despair, whether in our “successes” or our “failures.”
Now, I’ll go out on a limb and say not everyone struggles with this, and my own drive toward needing to appear successful comes from that unfortunate predisposition to the unhealthy side of my temperament. But nonetheless, most of us, from time to time and to some degree, have a desire to be seen as successful and important.
But what would it mean, truly, to lean into a mediocre space in some of our pursuits–not out of laziness or self-sabotage but out of realizing that we don’t have to be the greatest at every single thing we do, and we won’t be.
Everyone has unique and wonderful gifts, and those gifts aren’t going to look like being perfectly successful at everything the world considers to be successful. We are the most successful when we fully lean into what God is calling us to, not into trying to look like we’re doing everything perfectly. Plus, pretending to be perfect is exhausting and pretty much impossible (I would know because I continue to make that mistake all the time).
We are not these untouchable deities that can just do everything possible and look the part of perfection–we are not Jesus, and so, we are not dispositioned to just do everything perfectly. And, even Jesus rested. Even Jesus took breaks and didn’t try to overwhelm Himself with every possible thing He could have done. He spent 90% of His time in the same three cities, and that concentrated focus on that space and those three years made the greatest difference in all of history and the world and Eternity. He wasn’t rich, royal, good-looking, or powerful by any means of human measure, and yet, He did the Will of the Father.
And Jesus’s life of that perfectly being in step with the Father’s Will is the example of perfect human behavior (and, consequentially, Heavenly success–although a better word would probably be significance) we were designed to follow.
Allowing ourselves to just be normal people following the Good Will of the Father will be everything Good and Worthy that we could ever ask to live into in our little lives as imperfect people with a very much Perfect God.
So focus, be focused on what God is calling you to, on the things you are gifted with, and breath deeply, knowing you are not required to perfectly achieve success in everything you try in order to be worthy. Work hard but have grace for yourself. Your worth isn’t what you do, but Who died for you.
And, on a similar note, I feel this quote from C.S. Lewis may be rather appropriate in this conversation: “If God had granted all the silly prayers I’ve made in my life, where should I be now?” And to the same tune, if God had given me unbridled success at every turn, who would I be?