we live in a success-driven world. we all want to accomplish wonderful things and to be viewed as a "success". if you succeed at something people will say - "that guy's a success", so in a way we become what we accomplish; or conversely we become what we didn't accomplish - "she's a failure", and the world will either laud us or condemn us. our self-worth gets linked to what we accomplish or not, so naturally we start to think of ourselves as either a "winner" or a "loser".
of course the truth is that no one totally succeeds or fails on their own. there are always other factors that are involved. often its easier for us to claim success for our own, and often when we fail we look for reasons outside ourselves to explain it. after all no one want to see themselves as a "failure". some seem to succeed more and others fail more, but it is very unhealthy to define who you are by your successes or your failures. let me tell you a true story.
one day Jesus was invited to a dinner party. the host was a man of great learning and great wealth, admired by all because he was a "winner". that evening while the swank party was underway a poor woman quietly came into the house. she knelt down at Jesus' feet crying. her tears flowed like a river and she used them to wash Jesus' feet. the host of the party was stunned that Jesus even let this "loser" near him much more to allow her to wash his feet with her tears. Jesus saw in the host's eyes the contempt he held for this woman. Jesus looked at those gathered and spoke - "my dear host, you have invited me to your elegant home and shared with me of your many successes. but this poor woman, whom you so despise, neither shares her successes or her many failures, rather she gives me of herself - from the depth of her inner well she washes my feet with love. truly i tell you it is not by your success or your failure that you will be judged, but by your love."
Jesus knows that we are not our successes or our failures; for both the "winners" and the "losers" in the eyes of the world are all broken people needing to be healed. healing comes through mercy and compassion which flows without end or measure from the heart of God. that is why no matter what we do, no matter how much we accomplish or how much we fail, no matter how much people praise us or condemn us, God is always for us. the psalmist writes - "even if your father or mother should abandon you, I the Lord will never abandon you."
this is why when Jesus was asked "what is the greatest of the commandments?" He did not answer by saying its by being successful in this or that action, but "the greatest commandment is this - to love God with your whole being. and the second is like the first, to love your neighbor as yourself. this is the whole of the law and the prophets." it is by our love, not our successes or failures, that we are truly known; and it is through Love that we find healing and renewal.
©2010 halley low