If At First You Don’t Succeed…

And let us not grow weary while doing good,  for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9)

We’ve all heard the phrase “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That phrase has been around quite a long time but it has great meaning to it. We must continue trying until we succeed. We must never give up. Paul tells us in Galatians we should not grow weary of doing good for in due season we will reap if we don’t lose heart. In other words, we must not quit!

Whenever we try to overcome an area of our life we know we need to improve on, there will be times we will face discouragement. Notice I didn’t say “may face” but I said “will face” because it happens. That’s why you must have a plan of action right from the beginning to use when discouragement tries to block your path to stop you from beginning your recovery or from moving along in it.

As a reminder, recovery isn’t just about drugs and alcohol, though there are many recovery programs specifically for those issues. Recovery can cover a multitude of things. According to the dictionary, the definition of recovery can mean regaining something lost or taken away (such as peace of mind, health, self-control, etc), restoration or return to health from sickness, restoration to a better state of condition, or simply an improvement (in yourself). We all have things we need to get rid of in our lives that would make us much healthier spiritually, emotionally and physically. Things we need to recover from.

With that said, there are different times in our walk when we may face discouragement. If you can identify it early, you can defeat it before it gets a grip on you. Below are some examples to watch for:

In the beginning – Whenever we set out to make a change in our lives for the better, or even think about it, discouragement is there to block our path to stop us from even beginning. We know our decision to change is the right thing to do but we may encounter thoughts such as “Why even try. I’ve tried many times before and it never worked. I do good for a time but end up quitting and going back to the same old thing.” You may even encounter people trying to stop you from even beginning especially when they are knee deep in the same problem you are. Misery loves company and they may not want to see you progress forward because it may remind them of where they are and how difficult it is for them to move. You must immediately combat discouraging thoughts and people with encouraging thoughts and scripture. One thing you must remember is that many people have tried and failed repeatedly at many different things, but they continued trying until they were successful. If you do not try again, you will never know if this is your time to succeed! You must utilize scripture to combat the thoughts as well:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

It is in our failures and errors that growth is achieved and God will utilize it to grow our faith. Today, however, society does not look upon errors and failures as a stepping stone to growth. They see it simply as a failure and this is where rejection, unworthiness and perfectionism sets in. But that is not correct. We must see our failures and errors as a learning tool that is to be used in the growth process causing us to be more persistent to keep on moving forward towards our healing.

Remember this tactic – the enemy will always try to stop you before you even get a foot on the floor to get moving. If he can keep your thoughts focused on your past failures then he’s winning the battle…to keep you from moving. We must learn to identify this from the beginning and be more determined, through Christ, to get up and move!

Loss of motivation – For some people, getting started isn’t the problem. There are those who start off very positively. They get very motivated, they do their research, they remove some things out of their lives that tempt them and they move full speed ahead. As the days go by, they seem to be doing everything right. They start off their day with the Lord, they keep a positive attitude, and stick to their routine, but over the course of a few weeks, discouragement begins to face them with thoughts such as “I’ve been doing everything right over the last few weeks and I still am having difficulty in this area. I’m not seeing progress. I still haven’t lost any weight though I’ve been eating right and exercising. I’m still having cravings. I’m still losing my temper. I keep craving cigarettes. How come my friend is able to get through this but I’m still having problems and we are doing the same thing. I’m still unable to….” We all want to see some improvement when we set out to better ourselves, but the fact is, it takes time. Seeing the progress doesn’t always happen immediately and we must have patience. The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to someone else. Some people may appear to have it all together as they continue in their walk, but not everyone is seeing their times of struggle, and we all struggle. Also, not everyone progresses at the same time or the same way. There may be an area you breeze through but another person may have difficulty getting through and it can be the other way around as well. It’s important to keep your eyes in your own lane and keep focused on Christ and your walk.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9)

This is a great verse to combat discouraging thoughts with. It reminds us to not grow weary in doing good, which can mean doing the right thing, because in the right time we will reap (receive or get in return) if we don’t lose heart. In other words, don’t grow tired of your walk and quit. Even though you may not see immediate results, if you keep at it, you will see the results of your labor and reap the benefits! Again, you just need to have patience.

Tactic – The enemy will always try to get your eyes off of your recovery and on to someone else’s. He will try to get you to compare yourself with others, those who seem to be moving ahead quicker or seem to have what you have always strive for but never could obtain. I’m not talking about superficial things, but things that matter…a healed marriage, loss of weight for good health, a more peaceful life, a better job, a healed family, to quit substance abuse. When we focus our eyes on other people, we take our eyes off of God. We must remain focused on Christ and keep moving forward, being more determined to accomplish our goals.

Plateaus – Rest assured, you will meet with plateaus. A plateau is a period or state of little or no growth or advancement towards your goal. It’s a place where it seems like no matter what you do, you can’t progress forward any further. It may seem like the more you try, the less you move. People hit plateaus in recovery, weight loss, jobs, spiritual life, etc. They become discouraged when they look back and see how far they’ve come and now that movement has suddenly stopped. If a plateau lasts long enough, they may begin to wonder if this is the end of the line or no more growth or advancement can be achieved. They may even fall back to old ways to help make themselves feel better. I’m here to tell you that it’s not the end of the line and more growth and advancement CAN happen! You just have to be patient and continue moving forward. Many military battles can hit a plateau…a place where they are unable to breach through and overcome the enemy. This means they have to reassess their strategy and determine what needs to be done differently to achieve the goal. This is the same in recovery. We may hit an area where we seem at a standstill. When we look back, we can see how far we’ve come, but looking forward, our goal seems far away because we are stuck in a plateau. When you hit this point, you must not allow discouragement to stop you from continuing on. Reassess your situation and see what you may need to do differently to continue growing and advancing. This area may be a place you need to spend more time on due to the severity of it. It may be something that has long roots going way back and the Lord may want to get you through it slowly to teach you something. This is where you take more time with God and ask what you need to learn to continue growing and healing or to remove the root. In weight loss, it may mean you change your diet or up your exercise routine. In your spiritual life, it may mean you have to step up your prayers and dig in the Word further and incorporate fasting. In your job, it may mean you have to take on a little more work and go to school to get that promotion. When it comes to habits, it may mean you have to drop some friends or stop going to places that cause you temptation. These could be things that you weren’t willing to leave behind in the beginning but now it may be crucial to remove from your life in order to reach your goal.

Tactic – There will be a time in your recovery where you will hit a plateau. This is where the enemy will fight hard to keep you in that spot and hinder you from advancing forward. Yes, it is possible for the enemy to hinder our movement, especially when it’s a movement to improve ourselves for the Lord. We can see this in 1 Thessalonians 2:18:

Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.

 No matter where you are in your recovery, do not allow discouragement to keep you from achieving your goal. Have a plan of attack ready to counter discouraging thoughts. Through the Bible, God has provided us with many role models who have fought the good fight and achieved their goal. The first and most important one is Jesus. He went through the same temptations and difficulties as we do yet was able to overcome them utilizing prayer and scripture. Whenever discouragement rises up, read about some of the men and women in the Bible who overcame. Next, listen to or read about other people’s testimonies who overcame the same struggles you are going through and what they did to achieve their goals during the rough times. Sometimes hearing other people’s testimonies can give us the motivation we need to continue moving forward.

A couple things to be careful of:

1. When it comes to testimonies, make sure a person’s testimony is sound. Testimonies are to get us motivated to start moving or continue moving on. If the person professed to lose weight by eating 500 calories a day, this is not a sound testimony. If someone overcame drugs by utilizing another unhealthy form of living, again, this is not a sound testimony. It sounds crazy but it does happen. The bible gives us sound guidelines to live, eat, work, etc

2. Be wary of any information or testimony that promotes something that gets us to our goal quickly. Quick isn’t always better. In order to overcome many issues, it begins with our thought process. If we want to get to our goal quickly but fail to change the way we think, we will end up right back to where we started. Romans 12:2 tells us the following:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There are benefits to achieving our goals at a good, steady pace. This is where God teaches us many things including self-control which can lead to perseverance which helps us to meet our goals.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. (1 Peter 1:5-7)

If you are discouraged in your walk, take heart in knowing that it will pass. Stand firm and have faith that Christ is walking with you and He will see you through it. Ask Him today to show you what else you may need to do to help you to continue growing and moving once again. Then be patient and continue moving forward.