By Denae Jones –
How do you define success? We all have different ideas of what that looks like. Will you feel successful when your bank account reaches a certain dollar amount? Or you purchase the house of your dreams? Or get married and start a family? Or get a degree? Or get a promotion? Or cross things off your bucket list? Or retire early?
My definition of success has changed many times over the years. It started out being more materialistic. (I wanted a degree, and a Jeep and a house.) I got all of those at a pretty early age, and still didn’t really feel very successful. It was all about me. Over the years, my definition of success has transformed into something more meaningful. I think that’s because, when I have a goal in mind, I ask, “to what purpose”? Is this goal self-serving, or serving others? If I reach this goal, is it something that will simply make me boastful, or will it make God proud? God doesn’t care if I’m driving a brand new Jeep or a rusted-out car with three actual tires and one donut tire, as long as I’m using it for the right purpose.
Sometimes it seems impossible to reach some of the goals that we imagine for ourselves. For years, I felt like I was in a balancing act between hope and faith. I hoped my dreams would work out, and sort of believed it would. But I had doubts. Here’s the difference. Hope is wishing for something that we think we can make happen on our own. Faith is thanking God ahead of time for the realization of dreams way bigger than our own, that haven’t even happened yet.
Here’s a perfect example. About a year and a half ago, I knew that I wanted to reach out to people with my words. To what purpose? To help others look inside themselves. To challenge myself and others to strive to do better. (See the difference? This time, my goal was not all about me.) I prayed about it and woke with one thought in my head. I knew I was supposed to write a newspaper column even though I had never done that before and didn’t know anyone at the paper. However, by the end of that day, the fine people at this paper read some sample stories and agreed to let me submit a weekly article. (Thank you for having faith in me!) I wasn’t even sure if I would have enough ideas to submit on a weekly basis, but had the peaceful assurance that the words would come. And so far, they have! Faith.
Then, I started thanking God for the book that I had published. Only, I hadn’t even started writing one yet. And I didn’t even know what it would be about. I simply knew that I was supposed to write one. To what purpose? To serve God by helping others in some way. I thanked Him for letting my book, whatever it may be, get put into the right hands, way before I ever put pen to paper. Faith.
Today, I am happy to announce that my first book titled “Love, Joy, Peace” has been published by the Ellie Claire division of Worthy Publishing in Franklin, Tenn. It is now available for pre-sale on Amazon. It is a devotional journal on how the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control) can be found in our everyday lives. This devotional shows what God looks like in a very practical way. During times when life gets crazy, when we are going through a rough patch, when we have cause for celebration, or even when it’s hard to forgive. The official release date is October 1st, so it will also be for sale in book stores at that time. Of course, I’ll have some for sale locally too! If you follow my newspaper column and enjoy what you read here, I’m confident that you will enjoy “Love, Joy, Peace” as well, as excerpts of some of my articles appear in the book. Thank you, dear readers, for encouraging me along the way!
So how do I define success? By having faith and watching what God can do with it. I know that His dreams for me are far beyond my own. What are your dreams? Do they seem out of reach? If so, try thanking God ahead of time for what has not yet happened, and see what amazing things He has in store for you.
Philippians 3:12-13 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”