Thursday, September 5, 2013

when you're not making progress

Follow. Back in January, I wrote about how that was my "one word" for 2013.

I have to admit, there are certain connotations to the word follow, not the least of which is the idea that if you are going to be following someone you're going somewhere. You're moving forward, making progress--
   or at least just plain moving.

What happens, though, when you are standing still? Or more than that, how do you follow when you've been knocked flat on your face?

Everyone talks about the "Christian walk." I don't know about you, but when I hear that phrase it makes me think of an evening stroll down a well-beaten path. You know, one of those walks where there's plenty of time to look around and soak in the sights and sounds, to feel the gentle breeze against your face as you catch the beauty of a sunset. Maybe even throw in some woodland creatures scampering nearby--you know, Snow White style.
(c) Disney

I've found, though, that that phrase is misleading. Lots of times I find myself not moving at all, standing still instead of making progress. When I am moving, it seems a lot more like a climb up a mountain, somewhere I'm having to use a machete to hack out the trail myself. Sometimes you get to walk easy once you reach the top, but it seems like it's in those times that I stop paying attention to where I'm going and end up walking off a cliff.

I find myself at the bottom then, broken and still, wanting to follow but unable to move forward.
     Have you ever been there?

A friend recently went bouldering (Stick with me here--I know this seems like a major change of topics, but I promise it ties in!). She's started rock climbing, a sport I've always found amazing. How thrilling is it to work your way to the top where you get to stand and look out over the world below, to see Creation in all its glory? I haven't asked her, but I imagine she thinks along those same lines.

The thing is, it takes a lot of strength in muscles we don't usually use for strength to be able to climb safely and effectively. So, one way to train is to go bouldering, where you stay low to the ground and move sideways.

She wasn't incredibly fond of the idea of staying on the same level instead of getting to climb higher. She's an amazingly insightful woman, though, and this is what she had to say (hope you don't mind, Rona!):

" looks and feels like youre not going anywhere. routes are impossible and you keep falling on your butt.

but you land on soft cushions.
and though you cant perceive it, youre getting stronger and making way more progress than on the actual rock wall.

#grace #NewLevels #SometimesItFeelsJustLikeThis"

Being stuck at one level is hard. You want to follow, to climb higher so you can stand at the top of the mountain and look back over all you've accomplished, all you've conquered.

The thing is, sometimes it is best to be stuck
to be broken and unable to climb
to see just how weak you really are
and how little you can really accomplish.

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Though it's frustrating and painful to be broken, sometimes we learn the most when we feel stuck, when we don't think we're making progress.

Sometimes, follow means to be content in the still times. 

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