I remember being at my exercise facility early one morning. I had not particularly wanted to go exercise that day. It was cold, and I would have preferred to have stayed under my warm blanket and gotten a tad bit more sleep. When the alarm went off, I decided to brave the elements, however, because I knew there wouldn’t be time later in the day.

I had the facility all to myself – just the way I liked it. As I began doing my exercises, I was rewarded for my decision to get up, by the endorphins which started flowing through my brain, creating the sense of contentedness and well-being. The monitor was mirroring back to me my perfect repetitions and I was pleased. Until…

Midway through the work-out, my rate of perfect form dipped below 100% (which was not unusual, mind you, but so far this particular morning, I had been hitting 100% and feeling quite positive). When this happened, I immediately noticed a shift in my thinking. I found myself focusing on the negative aspects of the situation: “How come I could never get a 100% accurate form work-out?” “Why did they have to blare that music so loud so early in the morning?” “I can’t see the monitor.”

Fortunately, I realized what was happening. I did what I often advise my patients to do. I took a couple of deep breaths, and I course-corrected. I got a drink of water, stretched, moved the monitor to a more optimal position, and waited for the offensive song to finish. And while I waited, I course-corrected my thinking as well. I realized that I had taken a shift from being pleased with my performance to suddenly equating my less-than-perfect performance with defeat. We can get bogged down by such defeat if we aren’t careful. That was a lie that I was not going to believe.

God does not call us to a life of perfection. He desires us to have a willing heart. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. My routine that morning was not perfect. Yet getting out of bed and exercising was a whole lot more progress than I would have made if I had stayed under the covers and continued to hit the snooze button.

Even some of the “Biblical greats” like Paul, weren’t perfect: “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Philippians 3:12-14 Message)

When you are tempted to give up because you have tried and fallen short of the goal or the expectations of yourself or others, take a moment to take a deep breath, assess the situation, course-correct the situation and your thoughts and attitude about the situation, and try again. Remember, it’s not about perfection…it’s about progress.

What do you need to give yourself grace for today, and recognize you are making progress?

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