Progress, not perfection – my perspective on recovery and sanctification

A little less than a month ago, I started attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings online.  Almost immediately, it seemed that my faith and my accumulated knowledge clicked together and for sixteen days, I was able to maintain a self-defined abstinence from compulsive eating/overeating.  I was able to exercise and I was on point and productive at work and in my life.  I was working hard, but wasn’t struggling, striving, or putting forth effort to do any of these things.  I finally felt really connected to God, my self, and the people in my world.  I dropped some weight and was told by a couple of people that I was “glowing.”  It was an amazing and awesome period of time for me.

Then, as tends to happen, I came bumping down to earth.  I caught a summer virus of some kind.  Motivation, connectivity, and inspiration went from 10 to 5 then 3 and finally bumped down to subzero.  It was not unexpected, although it was kind of unwelcome.  I’ve lived long enough to recognize that oppositional forces tend to hold things in a kind of balance and that the level of activity, weight loss, and focus on me, myself, and I could not be sustained for an extended period.  And so, I consciously stepped down from the abstinence wagon, fully intending to step back up shortly.  Then I got sick.  Then I got isolated, then, finally the reversion to my prior state of being and doing and then some of the compulsive eating behaviors began again.  This was partially due to the fact that I had let my thinking and focus shift from what God is doing in my life and in the lives of those around me.

At that point I realized there has been a change in the core of my being.

While there was this little voice whispering that I was failing and that it had all come to naught and who did I think I was kidding, blah, blah, blah – the voice was exactly that, little.  I wasn’t experiencing the actual thoughts and feelings associated with failure, as has been my wont to do throughout most of my adult life.  It was a mere curiosity to realize that I wasn’t experiencing these things, but was merely hearing something in my head, but outside of my self that wasn’t defining me in a way I’d let myself be defined previously.  Instead, I have been learning something about me: the me I used to be and the me I’m becoming, but more importantly, the me that I am now.

This morning I had a conversation with someone I consider to be a spiritual mentor and we were discussing what forgiveness is and what it means to “be in Christ.”  One of the things we discussed was the “natural” compartmentalization and spatial differentiation that we use to classify, categorize, and figure out the world and our understanding of it.  Through this conversation I realized that the separation and dissociation I experience between myself, God, and others is a psychological construct that is inside of my head which keeps me separate. It’s absolutely ok that I fell down, because this journey is about progress, not perfection.  It’s fine to be not fine because I have a God, a Father in Heaven who looks at me and sees but doesn’t focus on the faults and the flaws the way I do.  Instead He sees me already cleansed, forgiven, healed, whole, and fabulous.  He rejoices in every small or big step I take in my journey, the way new parents do when their baby takes the first steps.  I don’t need to feel less than or condemned for not doing it right, because it’s a process and not an event.  It’s a process of learning and growth.

I’m grateful to be me and for all the things that I’ve lived through and learned from, as well as grateful for things that I didn’t have to grow through and learn from.  My life is and has been a miracle to celebrate and I’m learning that more and more each day.

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4 comments

  1. One of the times I remember when I felt a load of bricks lift off my shoulders was when one counselor told me, “It’s a process. It’s a life-long process.” Whew!! I thought/had been indoctrinated as a child to think that I had to be “perfect” all the time!! Of course, I failed — all the time!! That was a heavy load to carry and a very large measuring stick to measure up to and never reach!! What grace to know that God doesn’t expect us to get it right — that’s why we have the Holy Spirit, Who will live the life through us if we allow Him to. Of course, this means giving up control over everything and everyone and that is a very difficult thing to do. Over the years, once I realized I had to release control, which none of us really have to begin with, I slowly began letting go as I trusted God more and more. It was like “one area at a time God, until I know I can trust You.” Thank God that it IS a process!!!

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  2. For the sake of argument (against my traditional understanding not anyone specific) I looked up the word “perfect” in the Greek/Hebrew dictionary I own. It turns out the word means “wholeness”, not the cookie cutter, assembly line type of utilitarian thinking we’ve been taught to assume.

    Romans 5 claims, “God shows His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    C. S. Lewis said in his book “A Grief Observed”, “When the whining voices of the past or doubts begin to get louder and louder…take the little bastards and dash them against the Rock (meaning Jesus).” It always makes me laugh a bit and stop the voices. I’ve also been known to verbally tell them to shut up.

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    1. John,
      Wow, I didn’t realize I had never responded to this comment. I appreciate you taking the time to provide the original definition and intent of the word perfection. It makes so much more sense in the context of what I’m learning about God’s love. I love the CS Lewis quote. Telling them to shut up sounds like a good idea.
      Be well,
      Kina

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