Beginning Prayer: Show me your way, teach me your path, guide me in your truth.
Passage for today: Romans 7:14 - 8:1
One of my husband and my favorite dates is when we go to Barnes and Noble. We just sort of browse around and look at all the different sections; we usually grab a few magazines to peruse or grab a book or two that looks interesting, and then we get a cup of coffee and sit down and read. Super chill. Super cheap.
Someone asked me the other day what my favorite section of the store was, and I was trying to think of something impressive like art or history or nonfiction or cooking (but they knew me well enough to know that last one wasn’t true), and I think I even told them the decorating section or the magazines, but it’s only because I couldn’t tell them the whole truth without being a little embarrassed. The truth is, my favorite section is the self-help section.
Is that kind of weird? Am I alone here? I think part of it is that I really like to learn about growth and I’ve always been interested in psychology, but that’s only about 10% of it. The truth is, I’m always working on or trying to fix something in my life. Sometimes I feel like God barely has time to plant a seed in me before I’ve dug it up to see if it’s growing yet.
Do you hear this cycle of frustration in Paul’s words in our reading this morning? That’s why I one to look at one more place today that we might get stuck, and I want to encourage you to have permission to give it time. True, lifelong change, the kind of change and growth we’re hoping for takes TIME.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis, but it’s kind of interesting that its wings are heavy and wet and soggy. They don’t just pop out and start to soar; it actually has to sit still for a while and let oxygen hit the curves of its new wings while it flaps them around before it’s able to fly.
And that’s us too. One of the best ways the enemy can steal our progress is if he convinces us we haven’t made any. If you are taking the time to read this right now, you are making progress. If you have done ANY of the practices in this study, you are making progress. If you have talked to anybody about what you’re learning, you are making progress. If you’ve invited God in one time to your struggle, you are making progress.
I think we often miss what God has done because we’re trying to figure out what He is doing. We forget to stop and pause and recognize how far we’ve come and all God has done that has gotten us to this place. Sometimes we are going to need to give our growth some space and oxygen as we take it one day at a time, one step at a time, but let’s not discount our progress because it’s not happening overnight. This is not accident, and it’s working. Keep going.
Here are just a few practical things to watch out for as you give yourself time to get used to your new wings:
Watch out for all or nothing thinking. It’s the quickest way to sabotage your progress if you think it has to be perfect. Kill that. This is what keeps us procrastinating and putting off growth because we believe the conditions have to be just right before we can jump in. Here’s a mantra I read the other day about exercise that applies to this too, “Some is good, more is better, everything counts.” Don’t stop doing something just because you can’t do everything.
Watch out for comparison. Your journey is YOURS. Other people might be further than you are--great, learn from them. Other people might do it different than you--great, let them. Other people might be further behind than you--great, encourage them. Your change is between you and God. Keep it there.
Watch out for negative self-talk. Have you ever played that game two truths and a lie? Every time you find yourself being mean to yourself, I want to encourage you to play that game. When you find yourself beating yourself up, don’t be afraid to call it a lie and tell yourself two truths about you instead. For example, if you catch yourself saying, “I’m such a failure.” That means you get two truths: “1. I made a mistake, and I’m allowed to make mistakes and not do everything right. 2. There is nothing that God can’t fix or use, and He loves me; I can give him control, and He will take care of it.”
It only takes ONE step to move. Only ONE step to be unstuck. I bet you’ve taken one. Maybe we’re not as stuck as we thought we were! Great job this week letting your Great Rescuer have some space in your life. Keep going, every day with Him gets us one step closer to real freedom.
Write or say your own prayer today. Fill it with gratitude for all the ways God has rescued you. If you can’t find any, ask Him to show you.
Today’s practice is going to be something my friend Sam introduced me to called Gratitude Tag. It’s an easy way to force ourselves to stop for a minute in our hectic lives and just be thankful for all God has done and is doing. It helps us to pause, and breathe, and recognize where He’s working, and it will give you lift. So, shoot a friend a text with 5 things you’re grateful for today, and then end it with, “tag, you’re it!” and let them shoot theirs back. That’s it! But it will be both recentering with God and connecting for you and friend. You might even get addicted to it! Getting and receiving those texts is literally one of my favorite parts of my day.
(See if you can commit to memory, or commit to remember, this verse this week.)
“We have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.” (Romans 7:6, NLT)