Just because you have survived a situation, ordeal, challenge or issue, does not necessarily mean that you are successful or even healed from your ordeals. To be successful according to worldy standards does not always equal a Life of Significance. What is the difference between being “survivor” and a being “successful” person? What is the difference between a person who is viewed as “successful” and one who has lived a life of “significance”?
The difference lies in the degree to which a person is authentic and true to their purpose in life, honest about whether they have truly healed and learned from their ordeals and whether or not their personal wholeness impacts the lives of others in significant, positive way.
Life of Survival: The State or Fact of Continuing to Live or Exist, Typically in Spite of an Accident, Ordeal, or Difficult Circumstances.
A person can survive humiliating abuse, difficult relationships, severe financial hardship, death of a loved one, significant health issues and come through on the other side. There are many people walking around like this. They are alive and well, but they are merely surviving. They have not scratched the surface of who they are beyond what they have endured. Their lives are built upon the pain of their past. Their identities are bound and tied up in what happened to them. Survivors proudly wear their survival badge and appear they are okay on the outside, but inside they are the walking wounded. Because the survival badge covers their issues, they think they are healed. They fail to really uncover their purpose or passion in life because they will not lift the badge so that healing can begin. Without the healing, the unresolved issues will cause them to self-sabotage when opportunities to walk in their destiny arrive. They have God-given gifts, talents, desires, abilities that remain dormant or never reach full potential. The same situations, triggers, chaos, and types of people pop up in their lives again and again because they are still attracting it on some level.
Life of Success: Having Achieved Popularity, Profit, or Distinction.
A person can transition from survival to success over time, depending on their perception of success. Worldly success includes power, popularity, position, a good job, a husband/wife/kids, money, name brand clothes/shoes, nice car, and a nice house. Yet we all know people who have all of these things, but are very miserable. We see celebrities who live this lifestyle, but it is very obvious that the increase in material wealth only magnifies their unresolved issues and lack of character. The outward appearance of success further validates their faulty perception but inwardly they have not changed. When the storms of life come, they fall below survival mode because they have no roots. Because they are emotionally and spiritually shallow, they lack the depth and perception required to recognize their patterns and what God is trying to show them. Their main focus during the storm is to maintain their façade of success. This is particularly dangerous for those in leadership positions of influence, who are not accountable to anyone other than themselves. Think of high profile athletes, business leaders, ministers and politicians with hidden issues, unresolved mess running in the background of their “successful” lives. That is why it is so shocking when they are exposed. They never dealt with their “stuff”, they swept it “under the carpet” (or survival badge) for years because it was too messy, shameful and painful to deal with, plus they just “don’t have the time”. It is easier to keep it moving, until the unexpected happens that exposes them and the house of cards tumbles down. When the “successful life” tumbles, the impact is very negative.
Life of Significance: The Quality of Being Important; Having Meaning or Meaningful; Having or Likely to Have Influence or Effect; Revealing or Revelatory.
A Life of Significance is a life of courage and bravery. It requires courage to unpack and unpeel the issues that keep us messy, out-of-balance, out-of-order and out-of-sync with who God created us to be. In Life’s Healing Choices, John Baker states, “Pain is God’s antidote for denial…we cannot deny our pain when we actually feel it. And we cannot find healing unless we recognize there is a problem in the first place.” We think that it’s the Devil, other people, our circumstances, etc, that is causing the pain, but in actuality, God speaks the loudest in the midst of our pain. The pain and the struggle is a clue that something is amiss. Those who are determined to live a Life of Significance don’t miss the cues. They become self-aware. They know in their hearts that God has called them to a Higher Level of Living. When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, then we are ready to live a Life of Significance. We cannot fix what we don’t face. In How to Get Past Disappointment, Michelle McKinney Hammond states, “[Pain] forces us to deal with what is wrong, or what we’ve buried, overlooked, or refused to surrender to God…Jesus will always make us locate ourselves. He will not address what we won’t confess.”
This process is not easy and does not come without paying the price in terms of now becoming responsible for living in your truth. Once you have realized and accepted the truth of your life, your situation and your role how you got there, then you can no longer continue to allow the lies to self, the façade, the faking/ pretending permission to operate. Melanie Tonia Evans states, “We might have spent weeks, months or years enduring much more than necessary in order to understand the lessons. It was our resistance to soul truth (listening to, honoring and acting on our feelings in truth) that caused us to be trapped in pain, negative thinking and disappointing experiences for so long.
Once a person begun the process of healing and wholeness, they have now positioned themselves to live a Life of Significance. The same life message and life lessons that you survived and endured will be the very platform from which your significance will come. A person with a significant life is not merely surviving, going through the motions, running in circles over the same issues, but they have now risen above it and are now in a position to help others and bring glory to God through the message of their life. The Life of Significance is fulfilling and has abiding joy — not fleeting circumstantial happiness. A Life of Significance impacts others in powerful, profound and positive way. Jesus said I am the Way the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). He also said the truth will set you free (John 8:32). Jesus died and paid the price to walk us through surviving, success and becoming significant. When we live in truth and walk out the process of becoming whole, we light the way for others to lead significant lives also.