The proverbs of Solomon, King David’s son, from Israel: 2 Their purpose is to teach wisdom and discipline, to help one understand wise sayings. 3 They provide insightful instruction, which is righteous, just, and full of integrity. 4 They make the naive mature, the young knowledgeable and discreet. 5 The wise hear them and grow in wisdom; those with understanding gain guidance. 6 They help one understand proverbs and difficult sayings, the words of the wise, and their puzzles. 7 Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:1-7, CEB
We’re familiar with the “good” testimony. We’ve talked about this many times. It’s a narrative that goes like this: I was once lost, now I’m found, now I’m fine. We talked yesterday that, while we’re uncomfortable with this portrayal of how faith works, we still think that we need to see progress in our lives in order to be faithful. But what if “progress” isn’t really the goal? What if, after years in recovery, we still have bad habits? We still treat people poorly at times? We still disrupt the life of our community in some way? What if we’re still pretty much the same broken, damaged, hurting, struggling, missing-the-mark kinds of people?
I suspect that we usually are the same kinds of broken, damaged people even after many years in recovery. In a meeting recently I heard someone say exactly how recovery has helped them improve over the last 10 or so years. I thought to myself, this is so common. We want to talk about how we’ve progressed. But so often we haven’t really progressed that much…right? What does this mean?
I don’t know that it means a whole lot. Would it help to know that it makes us similar to many of the characters in the Bible? We have pockets of time where we live faithfully and pockets of time where we don’t. We simply do the best we can at a given moment in time. Some moments in time are more difficult than others and those times should lower our expectations of what our “best” is.
Faith isn’t about perfection. It’s not even necessarily about progress. We hope to become more faithful, of course, but it’s not promised or guaranteed. Can we live with that reality and still proceed in this direction?