Have you ever thought about who actually defines or determines “success?” I guess because I’m going to be 24 in less than a week and still working on my undergrad, it’s a thought that often consumes my mind. According to the dictionary success is defined as, “The attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.” When I read that I thought wow, seriously what a horrible worldly definition.

The other day I was asked by my friend Mike what my favorite Old Testament book in the bible was. Well, one of my favorites happens to be the book of Ecclesiastes. Okay, I know… a little depressing! But seriously y’all, it’s amazing;

Ecclesiastes 1: 2-5

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.
What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

I try not to just throw around this concept loosely, mostly for the fact I think people would get a littttttlllle defensive if I told them their life was utterly meaningless. Haha, not exactly the best way to keep friendships! But seriously, of course I believe that MY life is full of meaning, purpose, ambition, goals, freedom, responsibilities, family and what not– so I guess most people would think, there’s certainly nothing meaningless about that. However, there is a difference between “life is” and “my life is?” I remember as a kid my mom always saying, “the world doesn’t revolve around you, Chrissy.” And even though I know it doesn’t… I really think it should! Haha just kidding. Anywho, if millions of people are walking around, selfishly believing that the world revolves around them, then who is actually right? Or could there possibly be more to this life than the selfish tendencies of one human-being? Maybe a bigger picture that we’re all not seeing?

I read an article awhile ago that explained life as different levels of consciousness. The first is that, of course we are responsible for everything in our own life, which makes us at war with the world. We are constantly trying to explain to everyone how great we are. I went to a great college, got a great GPA, landed a great job, which means now I drive a great car, with a great house and make a great salary. Well, isn’t that just freaking **GREAT!** Those things actually really are meaningless.

The average lifespan of an American is 78.4 years. Let’s take 25 years off for “growing up” and another 10 off for when you’re in the nursing home. This means we have a good 43 years to “chase” something. I’ll state the obvious and say, then we die. So what should I chase? The world view of success? A view that is constantly telling us that we are not good enough, we need to do better, we are not worthy until we make money, gain power and are honored in someway? (See I told you Ecclesiastes was DEPRESSING!) I’m not going to sit here and say those things don’t hold any value to me, because I am human. The worldly view tells me I need these things to determine my success and so many times I listen- and believe it. I’m in no way saying that striving for these things is considered to be bad. Only when power is used in the wrong way, or when someone places their whole purpose of their existence and self-worth on obtaining these things.

So many times I’ve wondered how an atheist finds purpose in life. I think everyone can agree that finding purpose in wealth, power or honors, only leaves you wanting more and more. It never really fully satisfies you. So if it’s true, if all these things that we all think we should hold value in are meaningless, then what actually has meaning? What is the purpose to all of this?

Here is what I do know and what I find meaning in; God. I feel so blessed that I was lucky enough to find the Lord at 22. Before, I was wandering around only living for the next Friday night where I could have my bottle of wine. Don’t get me wrong, I still count the days down for that. However, I recognize that all the things that hold meaning or that I enjoy in my life, are a gift from God. God has given me everything in my life, therefore without him MY life would be meaningless… so in saying that, apart from God life in general is meaningless. I know I always say this, but I truly feel so lucky! Maybe it’s because I’ve had a taste of each life; a life without having a relationship with God and now, a life with one. He has blessed me with such AMAZING friends and family, a great life, a BEAUTIFUL place to live and such a joy in my heart. Whatever “success” I’m given, whether it’s a career where I make a high salary or I am blessed with a decent roof over my head… it’s all a gift from God.