This lingo is something you’ve probably heard if you’re a part of the Christian community. It’s got tons of negative connotations, and normally ends in a knees bent altar call at the front of the church, sobbing with head in hands. It’s very dramatic, very scary, and as Christians, we can lives our lives desperately trying not to go backwards.
Does time move in reverse? Are we playing Chutes and Ladders?
I have incredible news!
Although backsliding is a concept we’ve become comfortable with, I’d propose to you there’s no such thing.
Have you, powerful Christian, mastered a way to move time backwards?
Yes, in your glorious free will you have the option to choose some old choices that might be pretty negative for you and the people around you. If today, you choose to go get drunk after seven years of loving God and sobriety, are you back to square one?
We are not participating in a game with backwards movement. Your painful choice is real, but you are seven years beyond your last bad choice. You probably got to know God a lot in those years. That hasn’t been erased. You probably have people on your team to help you get back up that you didn’t have seven years ago. Maybe, mistakes don’t take you back to square 1. Maybe going back’s not even possible.
Lately, God has been wonderfully deep sea diving in my heart and bringing up some bad beliefs I had about Him that I thought I’d already dealt with. He kindly brought up the fact that I don’t actually trust Him to be good in certain areas, and why it’s hard for me to believe Him when He says certain things to me.
Whenever I get in His presence, He’ll say ‘there’s nothing I’d rather do than spend time with you.’
That’s incredibly kind, right? But whenever He’d say that, it kept hitting my heart hollow. I’d want to shake Him off. He showed me that people in my life had told me that while treating me with disregard, and he took the opportunity to shore up that part of my heart that didn’t trust Him, the sweetheart.
I have been building trust with God for probably 5 years. When I felt that He wanted to go look at areas that lacked trust again, I had the option to get massively discouraged, or I could get excited that we’re going even deeper than we ever have before!
When you’re facing issues you’ve already faced, it’s not that you did it wrong the first time, or that that progress has been struck from the record. No, it means that God’s GREAT enough to go another layer deeper, and another step closer with His gentle hands and perfect patience.
A mentor once said, ‘I don’t get discouraged when God’s working me through something we’ve done before. I see it as if He’s unwinding chains from around me. We started facing north, and we got free. As he continues to unwind the chains around me, I move in a circle, and I’ll probably face north again. It’s all progress!’
This concept has set me free to the millionth degree, and so today I want to tip the sacred cow of backsliding.
No, you can’t move backwards. You are not in Project Almanac. When you make a mistake, your progress isn’t scratched. How much less depressed would we be if we realized this? What if we had grace for our own mistakes and realized that the bad choice we made on day 365 doesn’t send us back to day 1 in God’s book.
Actions have consequences, yes, but there is no pennance to be paid with God. You choosing to punish yourself by sending yourself back to day 1 isn’t in any way doing what He’s asked. He wants you to forgive yourself the way that He forgives you.
You did something out of character? Perfect! You have the best opportunity to learn how to clean up messes and forgive yourself, a skill you’ll never stop building. I hope I don’t have to say this, but I will. This isn’t a call to sin! This a call to forgive yourself as you learn, as you live life with God, and to stop calling the things that you trip over the finish line.
Making mistakes as we learn is a part of learning, progress, and a part of being human. If we decide to live authentically, there will be mess. Perfectionism promises less mess, but chokes the life out of everything. In order for you to not hate being in process, you can accept that you own the ground you’ve taken, and no mistake can take that away!
Be free, be loved! ❤