The first time I exercised after a few years of sedentary life wasn’t pretty. The rather large gap between what I envisaged (hurdling!) and what I experienced (hurling!) meant that I didn’t pull on a pair of trainers again for quite some time. As with fitness, so it’s been with my faith: slow progress.
Yes, there have been times when I have been plunged into all-or-nothing dependency on God and found—perhaps more accurately, been given—the wherewithal to survive. Kind of like the mom who summons unknown strength to lift a car off her trapped child. But for the most part it’s been baby steps, like the Couch to 5K program that turns sitters into joggers a shuffle at a time.
My equivalent of running in short bursts has been trying to reframe my reality. I realized that although absolutes should really only apply to God, I often used them as I thought about situations and circumstances I was facing.
“They will always be like that.”
“It is never going to change.”
“I cannot do that.”
I tried quoting Bible passages about all things being possible in Jesus, and all that, but it usually ended like my first workout, with a sense of miserable failure. I was reaching too far. I’m not denying the power of declaring God’s truth, of course, but there’s more to faith than just reciting words on a page, even one marked Holy Bible. That’s just evangelical abracadaba.
Things started to change when I decided to work my faith muscles a bit more gradually and systematically. Instead of expecting them to carry me too far straight away, I worked on building them up a bit at a time. Rather than “declaring” things that, frankly, in my heart of hearts I didn’t really believe, I began shuffling towards faith by redefining my reality.
“They will always be like that” became “They appear to have always been that way up until now.” “It is never going to change” became “I don’t see how it can change.” “I cannot do that” became “So far I haven’t been able to do that.”
It was like I opened a door a fraction, enough for some light to spill into my darkened room. Throwing the door wide right away would have been blinding, but the gradual opening allowed my eyes to adjust, to begin to see things a little more clearly.
From “I don’t see how it can change” it’s a shortish step to “Maybe there are ways it can change that I just don’t see yet,” and then so on. Shuffle, shuffle.
This has been my spiritual version of the Couch to 5K program, what I call Faithless to Faithlets. I still get winded sometimes, but I am moving forward, bit by bit