Vanity and Strife

In the margin of my Bible, the heading of Ecclesiastes, I’ve added, “Reflections of an old man chasing after ‘good things.'”

I’m glad Solomon left behind his wisdom, his insistence that what we strive for other than God is akin to wasting our days.

Still, we want what we want. We long for what represents achievement.

I laid this leaf inside my Bible not sure I’d be able to preserve it. I was able. The spot in the center is so intricate it looks as if a tree with tiny branches created a piece of art.

I will keep it.

To have my art in a gallery would mean painting a series of similar pieces, gaining the attention of a gallery owner and them being thrilled to display my works.

There might even come a time that I become famous, someone well known buys a painting and all of the other wannabe well knowns follow behind and my art might become well-known

Same with my writing. I may by chance have someone read my blog and they know an agent and they tell said agent, I think this writer is worth looking at more closely. She has a meaningful story.

I imagine such things.

I make up fantastic scenarios about being noticed, about being a success.

But I’ve had little successes that have taught me success doesn’t satiate the soul.

If at all, only for a little while.

“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Solomon was successful, wise and well-known.

But, found his soul empty, his striving after the uncatchable wind.

I listened to a Grammy winning performer share with a likeminded and successful four book author.

Both admitted days of empty longing that hadn’t been and couldn’t be filled by “success”.

Fear of being able to be enough in their performance led them to isolate for days.

Something was missing at times. Their success on its own could not sustain happiness, contentment or a sense of satisfaction.

I believe success is simply intentional contentment and a personal resignation to choose to pursue “works of your hands” that you give back as an honor of God.

Otherwise, we chase for validation, we covet the Instagram lives of others, we grow sullen over being seemingly left behind.

I’ve been kept whole by my God. I have helped others. I have loved my family. I have made it my goal to grow closer to God each day.

Moment by moment, this pursuit to me, is God’s idea, if there is one, of success.

Success to me?

Being brave so that others will too. Being hopeful so that others have hope, choosing love over remorse and humble surrender to what I in all my vain striving do not know.

Last week, I wrote one of my bravest posts so far. A handful of people read, two or three said thank you or I understand.

Success?

Yes, that feels like just enough.

Success

Linking up with others at FMF on the subject of “Success”.

7 thoughts on “Vanity and Strife

  1. Great post! It’s true that we can be tempted to look to success to provide our satisfaction but it never satisfies us as we hope. Often the small acts of faithfulness are the greatest successes.

  2. I confess I imagine such things, too. At the end of the day is my Savior, always. Without fail. I love the “intentional contentment” idea. This is what I’m learning, and practicing. Thank you for this post and the reminders in very wise words.

  3. I love that you have mental scenarios of great success! Grand dreams are wonderful, fun and motivating. God can, and does, great things in amazing ways:)

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