Progress

baby plant

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…We must hold on to the progress we have already made.”

Philippians 3:16

I’ve always loved the encouragement in this passage to leave what’s past behind and press ahead. Clean slate. Fresh tries. This time as I read, I noticed the advice in these last words:

We must hold on to the progress we have already made.

Too often, I try to hold on to progress I haven’t made yet. In my desire to continue growing and improving, all the things that don’t measure up fill my focus. All the things I’d like to be different. All the areas I thought would be better by now. I only see where I’d like to be and grow frustrated with where I am. I become disappointed, discouraged, and drive myself harshly forward. The criticism doesn’t really help things, but I feel obligated to be brutally honest with myself about how I’m not meeting my own expectations. Always reaching forward, never taking hold.

If I’m always looking to the next thing, the next step, the next level, my fingers will grasp frantically and come up with nothing. I am not there yet. And I can’t hold on to something I don’t yet have.

But I can, rather than despairing over where I’m not, hold on tight to thankfulness for where I am, how far I’ve come, those things I am getting the hang of.  I can recognize those areas where I do see growth, and hand my heart gentle encouragement instead.

I can hold on to the progress I have already made. In fact, I must.

If the way I’m thinking produces anxiety, I must change the way I think, because He has said Be anxious for nothing.” (Philippians 4:6)

If the way I set my goals produces discouragement, I must change the way I set my goals, because He has said “Do not be afraid or discouraged.” (Joshua 1:9)

And if the way I face my past covers me with shame, I must change the way I look at my past, because He has said, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

I am free to look back and be thankful. To be here and be thankful. To look forward and take hope.

And I must.

 

Lord-

I want to keep moving forward, but not without celebrating what you have done so far in me. When I look at me, I will never, on this earth, see perfect.

But I will see progress.

 

 

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