(That photo is a little shout-out to all my Aussie readers. Some day, I will make my way Down Under. Some day.)
Weight loss. Running a 5K. Taking a college class. Taking a high school class. Training a puppy. Saving up money. We get it when it comes to everything else, but celebrating little victories is a lost art when it comes to a Christian battling sin.
I have no idea why.
As I thought of this post, I thought of my cousin’s son. His first birthday is Friday, so he is just now learning to walk. Wouldn’t you know it, the moment that child took two or three wiggly, wobbly, unassisted steps and flopped back down on his butt, the whole world knew it. The video was posted to Facebook and the world rejoiced (ok… maybe just my family and a couple hundred close friends). The next week, they were all asking me, “Did you see the video!?”
All of that celebration over something that seems so small. And it is small. If I wanted to be cynical, I could look down at little Wes and say, “Pshhh, so you took two steps! Big deal. I’m training for a 5K. So there. Call me when you walk a mile.”
But I wouldn’t, because even though I walk every single day of my life, walking is new for Wes. He’s learning. Besides, if I did that, you all would think I was the world’s biggest jerk (and rightly so).
But we do that.
Another analogy. I’m a rock climber. Maybe I should rephrase that: I climb rocks. Some of you will find that impressive, others will ask if I want to go scale the side of a cliff tomorrow and I’m going to tell you ‘no.’ When I tell you ‘no’ you’re going to think, “Well, then you aren’t much of a rock climber.”
What’s the point?
The point is it’s all about perspective, and in the church we have too many people busy judging others by their own perspective, and too many people evaluating freedom and progress by what other people have to say about it.
No mother looks at her child who just took his first steps and says, “No, that wasn’t good enough. Walk all the way across the living room. NOW!” No, we rejoice! Why? Because he stood up. He found his balance. He picked up a foot and put it in front of the other. All of those are little victories, little evidences of growth and steps (no pun intended) in the right direction. So, he fell. When he falls do we say he is no longer walking?
Since I am a rock climber and I love that sport, I am passionate about anyone willing to try it. Since I am a former addict and love freedom, I am passionate about any progress anyone makes. I celebrate little victories just like a mother celebrates the wibbly wobbly steps her child takes. If I can get someone off their butt and into a rock climbing gym, I will rejoice when they get half way up the first course, even if their technique is wrong, and even if it took twenty tries.
I just responded to an e-mail in which a young woman said, “I love God so much, but whenever I fall, I feel like I’m back at square one.”
No. You’re not.
Square one is sitting on the couch eating potato chips. Square one is caring nothing about getting out. Square one is being perfectly content to sin and offend a holy God without a second thought.
You are not at square one. You slipped and fell. You slipped and fell while trying. Beyond that, you slipped and fell down- not backwards.
It’s time we start understanding that freedom is a journey.
It’s a journey of growth and healing, and we need to be celebrating the evidences of God’s grace in our lives, not beating ourselves up because we aren’t good enough, or aren’t like ‘her’ (whoever ‘her’ is).
Did you take a step today? Rejoice. Did you finally tell some one? Thank God for the grace and courage He gave you to do that. Did you make it a week without pornography or make it through a date without compromise? Celebrate that. Learn to celebrate the little victories, look to Him for strength, and keep moving forward.
This isn’t a cosmic game of Chutes and Ladders where one wrong move knocks you back to square one. You only go back to square one (on your spiritual couch eating spiritual junk food) if you up and quit.