This could really be another of my “lessons from ___” posts. My goal in sharing that particular line of posts is to show one of the things we need to be learning is that life provides the curriculum for discipleship. As my friend Charlie Jones used to say, “the problem is not how to work Jesus into everything, He is already in everything.”
Which leads to the point of this post…
The Ugly. Monday night Anna made it clear to us that she was struggling with serious thoughts about suicide and hurting herself again.
The Bad. The bad news is that she did not feel safe at home.
The Good. The good news is that she understood that and was able to articulate that without help she would probably try to hurt herself. I am very proud that she was able to see that she needed help and that she asked for it.
Yesterday I was with her all day as we figured out what to do. In the end, we were able to find a place that met her needs. Once she was told that a space for her was found, she almost instantly looked relieved.
So, two steps forward, one step back. How often do we feel like that? It seems to often be the way things go with whatever thing we are struggling with doesn’t it? It doesn’t matter if you are talking about depression, anxiety, anger, health, finances, addiction, or porn. Nor does it matter if you are talking about starting healthy habits like prayer, Bible study, getting to the gym, or eating better. Whether we are trying to stop something bad or start something good, we struggle with two steps forward, one step back.
There are two ways to look at that. You can focus on the fact that you took a step back, or you can focus on the fact that you are still ahead by one step. I chose to take the second view. Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior does not mean all your problems are going to go away, nor does it mean that they are going to get easier. But just because we are not moving forward at the speed we want to be or hoped to be should not make us forget the fact that we not where we were. Which reminds me of another Charlie Jones saying, “I’m not what I think I am, I’m not what I hoped I’d be, nor am I what I ought to be, but by the grace of God I’m not what I was.”
God has been teaching me through Anna that while she took a step back and needed care beyond what we could give her at home, she did not go back for the same reason she did a year ago. And that is good. Don’t get discouraged by backward steps. Don’t let backward steps take away your hope in God’s grace. I’m not saying it isn’t hard, or frustrating, or disappointing when we take a step back. It is. But backward steps do not disqualify you from God’s grace or love, nor do they discourage Him from giving you grace and love in the present or future. Nor should they overshadow the forward progress we have made by His grace. We can be confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6, NIV).