One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I should have seen this coming. Every author knows that you never embark upon a new project without having to be tested on the very topic on which you're writing. As you know, the book I'm currently working on is how to deal with anxiety and depression in a Biblical way, and though I've learned a lot through the process of preparing for this project, evidently, God felt it was time to step up the testing. And nothing seems to cause me more anxiety or depression than my health.

As many of you know, I suffer from chronic dislocations of my joints. While painful and frustrating, I have learned to adapt and to accept life as it is, determined to do what I can to make things better and to trust God for what I cannot do. Unfortunately, life seems to have added a new twist (literally). According to my chiropractor, my ribs are currently turning inward and crushing my sternum, which has led to extreme pain in my chest and difficulty breathing. At times, I feel like a knife is being plunged into my chest over and over again, while other occasions, it just feels as if there is an anvil sitting on it. Honestly, I'm not sure if the majority of my tears yesterday were due to the pain or the emotional frustration of having to deal with another health issue.

As I cried on Jason's shoulder last night, I confessed, "I feel like all I ever do is take one step forward and two steps back. Every time I think I'm making progress, I discover a new problem to be tackled." In his gentle and loving way, Jason encouraged me to not think of it as one step forward and two steps back but rather to see it in the light that the path is simply longer than I anticipated. While that thought brought me some comfort, as I lay in bed last night trying to get comfortable, the Lord brought another thought to my mind that encouraged me, and I drifted off into a relaxed sleep.

Perhaps you know exactly how I feel. Maybe it's not a health issue, but a financial one. Or a relationship. Or life in general. Whatever the case, you are all too familiar with the "one step forward, two steps back" feeling. No matter how hard you try, how much effort you put forth, or how much faith you put in God, it seems as if you can't catch a break. You are well aware of the frustration, and you too, are seeking answers. Why does God throw these obstacles in our path? Why does progress seem so out of reach? Allow me to share with you what the Lord shared with me last night.

For some reason, lately, Jason and I have been fascinated by television shows centered around competition. We've been watching things like  Ultimate Beastmaster,  American Ninja Warrior and American Grit.  It is with these shows in mind that I was able to see what God was teaching me. The premise in each of these shows is that the competitors face a course, and, if successful, move on to the next level of the course, which is far more challenging. And so the process continues until there is a winner. Last night, God helped me to see that it's not one step forward, two steps back, but rather that I have simply progressed to the next level and am facing more difficult obstacles. Knowing that the obstacles are more challenging is not exactly encouraging; however, knowing that I am making progress means the world to me. It lets me know that my efforts are not in vain. It encourages me to keep going and to face whatever lies ahead. And I don't know about you, but that realization blesses my heart beyond measure.

Whatever setback you're facing today, I encourage you to adopt this perspective. You are making progress. You are getting better and stronger. In fact, you've improved so much that God feels you're ready for the next level. The obstacles will be tougher, and the course may be longer, but the same God who got you through the last level will get you through this one too. Just hang in there, and keep the faith. Slow progress is better than no progress at all!

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: - Philippians 1:6