I've been reading this book called Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa Terkeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries). I'm also using the DVD and workbook for the Bible study that I lead. It's a really good book!
In the first chapter, Lysa talks about imperfect progress and the hope that it offers to us.
"What kept me from making changes was the feeling I wouldn’t do it perfectly. I knew I’d still mess up and the changes wouldn’t come instantly." ~ Unglued
I want to change, to grow, but all too often I get discouraged when change doesn't happen quickly enough. I want to go from A to Z but in one jump rather than the 26 steps in between. I created expectations in my head that simply aren't realistic. When I don't live up to my own self imposed expectations, then I just want to give up and move on. I figure I'm too set in my ways to change or simply too entrenched in sin to ever be different. LIES!!! And this is why there is hope in the idea of imperfect progress. She could have been reading from my journal when she penned these words:
"Progress. Just make progress. It's okay to have setbacks and the need for do-overs. It's okay to draw a line in the sand and start over again - and again. Just make sure you're moving the line forward. Move forward. Take baby steps, but at least take steps that keep you from being stuck. Then change will come. And it will be good."
Change is a process, sometimes a slow process. The point is to make progress in the journey, not getting stuck, not continually moving backwards. Yes, there will be times when we get stuck or when we move two steps backward and that's okay too. The point is not to stay in that place but to keep making that imperfect progress forward.
All too often setbacks are part of life and they can keep us from moving forward if we allow them to. Another option is to take a do-over, draw that line in the sand and give yourself a fresh start. That is part of having grace on yourself. Jesus has poured out amazing grace upon us, isn't it about time that we had grace on ourselves?
"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." ~Hebrews 12:1b NIV84
The more I run, the better I understand verses like this. When I was running my race a couple weeks ago, it was a chilly morning. I wore a lightweight jacket because I was so cold. However, about halfway through the race, I was wishing that I hadn't worn the jacket. I took it off and tied it around my waist but it was just an extra weight to carry with me.
In the same way, there are things in our life that we carry along that are nothing more than extra weight in our race called Life. The writer of Hebrews is admonishing us to throw off that excess, that sin and run with perserverance. That excess might be sin that you wrestle with, it could be a past that haunts you. I love one of Lysa's quotes toward the end of the first chapter:
"No, we won't bend from the weight of our past, be we will bow to the One who holds out hope for a better future."
Let it go. Whatever it is that holds you back, that weighs you down. Let it go. Trust it to the One who will redeem your past and give you a hope and a future.