Progress, not perfection. What a wonderful thing. I have heard this phrase on and off for years, but only recently adopted it as a philosophy in my own life. Even though I would say things like, "Just take one step at a time" or similar sentences as I talked to myself about whatever I was working on at the time, I always seemed to be more focused on the goal, the finished product, or the outcome. I am impatient with myself (and often times with others) and want to see results faster than what is sometimes realistic.
When I had my birthday back in November, I decided that age 46 would be "the year of health". I prefer to use my own birth date to begin change as opposed to the New Year's Resolutions. Taking personal inventory is something that I do more often than once a year and another year older is a good time to set new goals. Anyway, I decided that this would be the year that I would exercise regularly, eat healthier, start attending a regular recovery meeting and look at some key relationships in my life to make positive changes.
Well.......some of these things have been easier than others. Since my beloved husband is totally behind me in my quest for physical health (he is a health NUT), he is assisting in every way possible regarding diet and exercise. We have joined a health club and he prepares a healthy meal for every evening that I go the gym after work. I have not had too much conflict with my resolution to attend the recovery meeting, once I started going. And the relationships, well, this is certainly a work in progress.
As I have pondered the progress of this work the past couple of days, I have been discouraged. Although I have been doing 10 times better in the diet and exercise department for over a month, I have only lost 6 pounds. Discouraged. I love the recovery meeting, I enjoy the relationships and the honesty and the tools that I am learning to use, but I want to see the results today. Discouraged. And the relationships, some of them have years worth of pain, undealt with hurts, personalities that are not mine to fix, and character issues that I choose to not closely associate with. (the recovery meeting will help me keep my responsibility MINE, and give to God what is His) I resolve in my mind to think, speak, and behave in one way, and catch myself doing the total opposite. Discouraged.
I am thankful that God knows just how I feel. Jesus felt the same temptations that I do. He struggled with the desire to react like I do. He knows why I look at the apple in my refrigerator and choose the Girl Scout Cookies. He can relate to the thoughts I have about driving straight home after work instead of stopping off at the gym. He knows what I mean when I stand before Him and confess the anger, the hurt, the desire to hurt back and He loves me anyway.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. - Hebrews 4:15,16
I am so thankful to know that He understands and that I can freely and openly go to Him with all that I am, just as I am...not perfect.
I know that I am not the only Christ follower in this world that experiences this. My friends do too. (some of my blog commenter's don't have this problem) Some days, I just shake my head in frustration at the difficulties I face in simply doing what I say I am going to do. As my discouragement has taken over much of my thought process the past three days, God so kindly reminded me for the past two that I am not alone. The wonderful passage that He brought to mind (again) is found in Romans 7:15-20.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Whew! I know I am not the only one! Even Paul, the one I admire, felt exactly as I do sometimes. What a relief. The cause is not lost on me. I know that God will complete the work He began. I just need to walk with Him, one step at a time and remember:
Progress, not perfection.