My wife, sitting next to me on the couch one recent morning, turned to me, holding up her iPhone. “I love this app,” she said, pointing to the a graph on the little screen. “Each day I enter my weight and then it shows me my overall results. On days I get discouraged over my perceived lack of progress, this thing shows that my little ups-and-downs are actually moving me steadily toward the goal.”
I immediately thought of a client I’d seen the previous day–a woman working through tremendous personal and relational challenges. “I don’t think anything has changed,” she sighed, having just endured a particularly difficult week. All she could see was the familiar gap between where she was and where she wanted to be. But from my perspective, I recognized the week as a small dip in the overall progress she had been making over the past three months. She needed help in stepping back to take a wider view of the change she had been experiencing.
Of course, taking this wide view lets us be honest about our lack of change too. Token efforts of “good behavior” mean little if there is no over-all move in a new direction. In marriages, for example, wives remain unimpressed by sporadic expressions of affection from a husband who generally ignores her. On the other hand, momentary neglect is easily overlooked by a spouse who generally feels cared for. What you are moving toward is more important that what you do today or where you’ve been in the past. It’s your progress that matters most.
Even without an iPhone app you can still take a wide view of change. Don’t ignore the steady work God has been doing in your life. When you get discouraged about where you are, step back and look again; be encouraged by how far you’ve come.