The Places In Between
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier
I love to look back and see the victories in my life, great and small. I believe in marking those moments because they’re important and they matter. I’m also enthusiastic about starting something, even if it’s hard, because I see the prize waiting for me once I cross the finish line. It can be the positive character changes that will take place, the profit I know I can make, or even the benefits I’ll receive for making healthier lifestyle choices. Whatever the prize is, knowing it’s out there waiting for me motivates me to start.
The challenge comes, for me at least, in the places in between. I know God is calling me to something different, but I’m not there yet. I’ve started the journey, but the initial enthusiasm has worn off and I’m stuck with that middle section of hard work, perseverance and no immediate results. This can be the most difficult time to keep fighting on and moving forward.
It’s during these moments of high effort with no immediate results I’m most tempted to throw in the towel and quit. It’s when I’m seeing all I need to grow in and making better choices, but my feelings have yet to catch up with me. It’s when the business plan has been executed but all I see is the debt compounding. It’s the time I’m most likely to reach for the bucket of ice cream instead of the apple I told myself I would eat instead.
If, like me, you consider yourself a human, you will fall down during this period. Note I didn’t say you might fall down. You will. You’ll reach back for the old, familiar pattern you’re trying to break. You’ll start to believe you are a failure and you friends were right – you’re crazy! Or you’ll polish off the Haagen Dazs and add in some cookies for good measure.
Success is never linear. As we make our way forward, we will take some steps in the right direction, but we’ll also take some steps sideways, backwards, and everywhere in between. I’ve come to believe it’s not so much the beginning or the end of a journey that defines me, but it’s what I do in those in between places that really count. Courage for me in these moments is never about fearlessly moving forward, sword swinging and conviction shining forth brightly from my heart. No, for me courage in the middle is all about quietly picking myself up from the back steps and the side steps, asking myself what I need to learn from them, and yet again placing my foot forward.
Author Mary Anne Radmacher says it this way: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” So whatever it is you are working through or working toward, remember it’s not the times you fall down that matter. It’s finding the faith and willingness inside to continually pick yourself up again.
For Further Thought: The Christian walk is often referred to as a race in the New Testament. One of my favorite scriptures is found in Hebrews 12:1-2 where we are told “… since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (people who have persevered and been blessed for it), let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God.” How do you get tripped up? What is one practical way you can keep your focus on Jesus during those moments to help you get back on track sooner?
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