Progression: That’s the word on my mind lately. Observing progression in my life increases my positivity over projects that otherwise seem daunting. It’s the progression that makes me smile when I would otherwise think I’m failing. Noting progression, fans hope within as to what can be and will be if I take each positive step forward. Maybe this is nothing new to some of you, but for some reason, this is helpful to me personally.

I saw this as I painted my new office/shared art room. (My youngest son’s old bedroom was transformed, and my daughter, Hannah, and I decided to create a shared room to spread out our creative endeavors.) There were days that I felt I would never accomplish the goal. Painting with primer over a rusty orange color took forever. In fact, it took three gallons! I only had an hour or two at a time to devote to the job for many reasons, including health and other essential projects. There were days I would spend the allotted time painting, even joyfully… yet look back at my work, barely noticing any change. I’ll admit, that was a bit discouraging. When I finally used color, I was overjoyed. The color went on quickly and was covered easily with just one gallon of beautiful “Herb Bouquet” paint. The slow task of prep work was worthwhile!

Bookkeeping and paperwork are other daunting chores that seem to pile up. Again, I can only devote a few hours a day to it. Yet, as I work, the pile diminishes. I see I’m accomplishing something worthwhile, such as leading to a cleaner desk! Sometimes, even writing an article takes slower progress than I wish, such as this particular entry!

Some acts of progression are unseen, such as the tiny steps we take to eat healthier or exercise. Or the hard work of parenting, teaching children, or any investment we pour into someone’s life. We can build better habits over time, even with tiny increments of change, such as choosing to love when we are tempted to hold a grudge. We also progress backward when we make choices to choose unhealthy habits. We kid ourselves into believing it won’t matter until we look back one day and see how it added to big mistakes in any area, spiritually or physically.

In Celebrate Recovery, we often say, “Progression, not perfection!” This is helpful for a perfectionist like me. If I believe perfection is all that’s worthwhile, I will forever be unhappy. I know, realistically, that life is not perfect, yet I have this terrible tendency to strive for it. At least, I used to. Now, I find myself relaxing more, enjoying the process of life. The steps forward, no matter how tiny the increments, are still steps onward. I’m seeing routines and rhythms of life just as satisfying as the finished project.

I’m learning not to fret as often over the end job, either. If it’s not perfected this time, I can improve next time, or simply move on to something else. I can be content in both circumstances. I don’t have to be a slave anymore to my own expectations, or to what others think of me. Perfectionism holds me as a slave to live up to a standard often unmet. And when I can’t meet the standards I’ve set, I feel discouraged and tempted to self-condemnation, self-pity, or even fear. I tend to create my own rules that drag me down into unnecessary shame and expect others to do the same. I’ve done this with everyday work and with my relationship with God. Looking at progression helps me focus on the positive transformative work of Christ in me.

When people first become believers, there is a need for patient progression in their lives as God does his work in them. When I am open to trust in this and watch the miraculous changes he is doing in others, I’m encouraged in my own walk. I love seeing growth and change in character with others as it gives me hope I can keep on transforming in Christ as well. When I feel beaten down, thinking I’m continually misstepping all over the place, I can look back and see the progression of the Lord’s transformation. He truly is doing a miracle in me! When I recognize what he is doing in me and the slow progression of healing it takes, I can be patient with others, gently being there as they heal, too.

Seeing progression spurs hope. I can, in Christ Jesus, meet the end goal God has intended for me. I can give myself grace and accept God’s grace. There is freedom in the process–even if it’s a messy one–because there is no burden of having to measure up. Most of all, I can trust Jesus is with me each step through his Holy Spirit. Each day lived slowly, steadily, and gently with Him is far more peaceful than the rushed, anxious, pushy, and burdensome life I used to live. The less striving to measure up, the more rest I have in my heart. Jesus himself said his burden is light. He is humble and gentle with us, having far more compassion than we give ourselves or others. There is something about waiting through a slow progression that also builds the character of patience (if I’m willing to let Christ work through me.) I need to keep reminding myself of the importance of this act of progress. Do you?

What do you think about progression? Do you tend to strive only for the end goals, or can you find rest and joy in the process of life? Let me know if this resonates with you or if you have any other thoughts. Let’s all learn together!

3 thoughts on “PROGRESSION

  1. Toni Brown says:

    Eve your writing is real and experienced and written with a humble servants heart, such a gift to me. Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to mold you and make you new, and sharing it with us!

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