Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In the 1972 movie Play It Again, Sam, actor Woody Allen says to the character played by Diane Keaton, “I’ve figured out the secret to being successful in life.”
She looks at him as if to say, “You can’t even tie up your shoe laces—what do you know about the secret to being successful in life?” And Woody Allen says, “Being successful is 80% showing up. Eighty percent of being successful in life is showing up.”
I wonder what he is really saying here—perhaps he means that life can be successful if we apply ourselves and turn up. Being attentive to life, and giving yourself to the task at hand, whatever that may be, and not wishing to be somewhere else. I think that sometimes we waste a lot of time wishing we were doing something else, or being somebody else.
In other words, why do we waste energy not accepting life as it is, or as it comes each day? I’m talking about our need to accept ourselves for who we are, and opening our heart and mind to what is happening to us. It’s a willingness to embrace who we are at this moment.
Don’t Try to Be Someone Else
Do you live an open life, to love and appreciate yourself and others, and to try and understand who you are—a true child of God? Why do we spend so much energy trying to be someone else, or comparing ourselves to others? I believe that once we know God loves us warts-and-all, we are better able to accept life as it is—every day, even when we don’t feel very positive about life.
It’s a good thing to have friends who support and accept us. But it becomes a problem when it’s something we must have. It’s like saying, I’m OK as long as others think that I am OK. I am sure we need to stop being afraid of what others think of us. Having a meaningful relationship with God helps us better cope with life as we experience it—the good and the bad.
God loves us warts-and-all.
Another way of putting this is saying, Sometimes we live in denial. Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen sang his song “Anthem”:
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything;
that’s how the light gets in.
That’s quite a good insight. I think he was saying, Don’t think you have to be perfect to accomplish your best in life—or to be a significant person. Rabbi Harold Kushner has written a book called How Good Do We Have to be. And here’s a bit of what he said:
The more I dealt with other people’s problems and the more I learned to look at my own life honestly, the more convinced I became that a lot of misery could be traced back to this one mistaken notion: we need to be perfect for people to love us, and we forget that love, if we ever fall short of perfection.
God uses us the way we are—limited, sinful, weak—to let his light shine in.
Accept Yourself the Way You Are
Can you accept yourself the way you are? Can you live with a sense of contentment within your own limitations? Once we can sort out that issue, I feel much else in life falls into place, more or less. We have all been given gifts and talents, and we are a unique human being. To say, I wish I was like that other guy is quite ridiculous and hurtful. It’s as foolish as saying, I wish I could fly. These unhealthy attitudes slow us down and cause sadness.
As a school student, were you picked on, or told you weren’t smart enough? Henri Nouwen, the Catholic theologian whose writings have helped enormous numbers of people, once said:
We live in a world filled with voices that shout you are no good, you are ugly, worthless, you’re a nobody—unless you can demonstrate the opposite.
Every time you feel hurt, offended or rejected, you have to dare say to yourself those feelings, strong as they may, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth (though I can’t feel it right now) is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in His eyes.
Have you said recently, I could do something worthwhile with my life if I had more ability? Jesus told a story we read in Matthew 25 of three servants who had to invest their master’s money in his absence. Two did well, but the third didn’t. In fact, he was condemned because he was frightened and went out and hid the 1,000 coins. For whatever reason, he didn’t have the confidence or ability to move forward. He was reprimanded.
But let’s not become too discouraged. God moves towards us in love and says, Nothing shall ever separate you from my love. Take hold of that today.