Break the results rut, once and for all.
A couple years ago I decided to train to run a half marathon. My goal was to get in shape and cut my personal time down to a solid 2-hours for the 13.1 mile course. Prior to that race, I had always run to lose weight and keep my sanity. Running for speed was new territory and while timing was my goal, I assumed I would drop some weight through the process (which made me doubley-happy).
After a few months of training I was running faster than ever. Fast miles, healthy meals, injury-free months– I was gonna OWN that race! Pumped at my progress, I decided to seal my victory with a quick jump on the scale. “Fittest and lightest me, here I come!!”
But as the number illuminated before my eyes, I was shocked at what I saw:
I had GAINED weight.
First came denial. “The scale must be broken.” I stepped off and on again. Same number.
I became angry. “WHYYYYYY?!?!?” My blood boiled. It wasn’t fair! I couldn’t get the scale to budge even one pound?! What was wrong with me?
After that came bargaining with the Lord Almighty. “I promise I will cut out ALL potato chips if you will just tip that scale a tiny bit, Jesus. Ruffles and french onion dip? Never again!”
Then I was hit with depression. “Why did I ever think I could lose these last pounds? I mean, why even run? I should just give up right here and now.”
And last but not least, I accepted my fate. “It is what it is. I can’t go back in time now. I guess I am doomed to stay this weight forever.”
I went through all the stages of grief in two minutes. I had traded lost pounds for speed, but wasn’t speed what I wanted? If so, why did I feel like such a failure?
We will always fail when we measure our success by the wrong metric.
The Holy Spirit reminded me that I always ran to lose weight (remember those freshman fifteen?). While this time I trained for speed, I was continuing to measure my success based on pounds lost. I wasn’t celebrating my fastest time because I was fretting over the scale that hadn’t budged. No wonder I felt like a failure! As long as I measured success incorrectly, I would never feel successful.
Do you usually feel like a failure? You aren’t alone.
It is easy to have misguided expectations. We want to lose 10 pounds in a week or get a job promotion after one month. When these expectations aren’t met, we assume something is wrong with us. We believe we are doomed to stay this weight/never move up/always give in, when the truth is we may simply be measuring our success by the wrong metric.
It is especially easy to make this mistake in our christian walk. When we accept Jesus, we expect to become perfect overnight. We believe that when we begin to follow Christ, we will stop sinning and will only desire world peace. We think our patience will never fade and our Bible will be thoroughly studied every morning… That is, until we miss a morning of prayer or skip church for one weekend that turns into four. We wonder, “What is wrong with me? Why am I failing?”
Could it be that we are asking the wrong question? What if nothing is wrong with us, and everything is wrong with our metric?
We feel like failures in our faith because we are basing our success on an incorrect definition of being a Christian! We can look at our slip-ups as the minor setbacks they are (“I’ll do better next time!”) or we can assume we are absolutely failing (“Why did I ever think I could be a Christian?”). When your method of measurement calls for perfection, then you will always be a failure! You are looking for weight loss and ignoring your muscle gains.
Our metric must be progress, not perfection.
Take inventory of whatever it is you are currently facing. Ask yourself these questions:
*Am I further along than I was a week ago? A month ago? What about a year ago?
*Do I make better choices every day, even if they are small?
*Do I refuse to give up, no matter the set-back?
If you can answer “yes” to these, then you are successful! Every day is a chance to evaluate your heart, faith, and life according to the standard God has set and nothing else. He loves you just as you are and every day you become more like Him. And– spoiler alert– He can’t love you more than He already does!
Whether losing weight, chasing a goal, or growing our faith, a step in the right direction is the best we can do. And God is pleased with us. When our metric is correct, celebrating our milestones becomes easy.
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