Running in Cycles
Do you find yourself working on the same personality issue year after year? Don’t be discouraged. For one, you are still trying and that is a very good thing. Your desire to change and become a better person is an admirable quality.
Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
Some of the greatest achievements people have made in life took many attempts before they became successful. Take Abraham Lincoln for an example. He was elected to the Illinois State Legislature in 1834, but he had his share of defeats. He lost in 1832 running for the legislature, he was defeated while running for speaker in 1838, lost the nomination to Congress in 1843, he was elected to Congress in 1846, but lost his re-nomination in 1848, he ran for Land Officer in 1849 but lost, he lost running for the US Senate in 1854, he was defeated while running for Vice President in 1856 and his last defeat was in 1858 while running again for the US Senate. After a string of defeats that would have had most of us throwing in the hat, he tried for the presidency and was elected President in 1860. He then won re-election in 1864. Notice his presidency, and greatest achievements, came after many lesser losses and gains.
So don’t be discouraged at all, even fine metals go through the heat for a bit before they lose their impurities and are purified. No metal is simply entered into the furnace for purification and then zipped right back out again perfectly pure. No, first the heat is applied for a time. Then the metal becomes softened. Next the metal and the impurities begin to separate and the weight of the impurities are drawn out. Then finally the metal is poured out and tested. See, there is a process, and it takes time, and if the metal isn’t completely pure, it will go through the process again, but that doesn’t mean it’s not any better each time. Each time it loses impurities and each time it is closer to being completely pure. God is shaping and molding us a bit at a time, and life is the heat that is applied. This is how we are sanctified as we walk with Him. Sometimes we do things that cause our own troubles, but God never wastes a bit of heat or time. It doesn’t really matter where the troubles come from, if you are with Him and He is God, and He most certainly is God, then you must believe He will work all things for good for those who love Him. That is His promise and His work and He will do it.
Rather than be discouraged, know this. Sadly, some people never even recognize that they run in negative cycles. Here is what I hope you will begin to do. This is something the Lord showed me years ago, and it has helped me tremendously. When you see your cycles in life, it is wise, then, to ask the Lord to show you where you tend to turn into them. The whole issue is not your entire problem, it’s that one little thing that causes you to turn back into a circle of attitudes and actions, when you would be pressing forward. Perhaps you react when you shouldn’t, or you refrain when you should act. Instead of racing forward, at some point, under some kind of pressure, we all have tendencies to turn back into our habitual places or most comfortable attitudes. Perhaps it is a protective mechanism that comes natural or has been nurtured into us. We will tend to respond the same way to the same stimuli until we focus specifically on that one individual aspect of the issue that actually makes all the difference. If we continue to focus only on the broad scope of the issue, and it doesn’t yield the final results we hope for, we have to take a closer look and break it down into its parts. When we do that, we should find the one small issue, that tiny thorn in the flesh, which, like a small rudder, turns the whole huge ship around every time.
Instead of trying to walk in love and forgiveness more year after year (broad scope, modifying your behavior), we might try to figure out exactly where we tend to get out of love or into un-forgiveness at all. What causes it? Perhaps it isn’t a problem with walking in love so much as it may be a problem with simply trusting the Lord when we become afraid. (small scope, yielding to allow God to modify our hearts)
People do all kinds of things when they become afraid, and the enemy would love for you to focus more on your fears than on your faith in the One who can always save you and turn you out of your negative cycles. If we want to "break the cycle", we have to ask the Lord to show us where we always make the wrong "turn". When we can be honest with ourselves about ourselves and also give credit for what the Lord has already successfully done, we’ll find ourselves hopping right on over into His will and walking in step with Him, rather than in our old footsteps. It's hard to walk in our own footsteps when we are following His.
“For I have come to give them life and have life to the fullest.” -John 10