When You're Tired of Going Backwards

Some of us are struggling in a season of going backwards. We think we should be moving forward but we seem to circle back, instead. Circling in dizzy-loops around lessons that have been repeated and hammered in, till we are a pulp of tender spots and sensitive subjects.

I repeat things daily to my children. I say the same string of words to them and they feign deafness, and I'm even sick of my own voice.

I've said those words that I swore I'd never say - you know, the way we all want to correct the perceived mistakes our own parents made? I've said things my mother said, her mother said, and all mothers bite their tongues hard not to say it but sometimes, it just escapes us:

If I have to tell you one more time...

Well then.


Some things really do bear repeating. Some things are important enough to repeat and re-do until the concrete is dry and set, or even until the jackhammer of correction has loosed all the false progress and cleared the slate for a do-over.

And going backwards can have it's merits.

We turn our math books back several dozen lessons and breath easy for awhile, cement lessons already learned, and understand another layer of the consistencies of math.

In going backwards, we find the familiarity of things we know we know, things we can know deeper, things we can rest safely on.

Yes. Math shows us the goodness of God.

slow drip

Our society always has this push to go farther and faster and more furiously than our predecessors, and what have we gained?  Our kids can enter college earlier and earn degrees before they can vote, and we push and push forward.

Because forward is always best?

I don't buy it.

Going backwards is hard only because we feel like progress is always forward motion. Burn through the books, charge up the ranks, build bigger churches even.

But better to learn one lesson well enough to share it with others, than to have twenty lessons forgotten before we reach the door.

Better to go back to milk than to choke on too much undigested meat. 

We go backwards in school and in church and in relationships because some things got skipped over and some lessons never sank in. We go backwards, not because we're lazy or dumb, not because we'll never be able to move on, but because the basics are our foundation and we just have to get those things right.

Read Exodus, again. Take the long way with the Hebrews, again.

Dr. Wess Stafford, former president and CEO of Compassion International, said once that we don't build a foundation under our tents when we go camping, because we're not staying long.

We're not staying here long, friends.

We're fit for another kingdom altogether and to get there, to live it now, Jesus calls us as little children. So don't fret about going backwards if you need to. Learn the lessons and slow the progress, because we want to build a foundation that is eternal.

We want to hear "Well done.", not, "My, what a lot you've done." 

Two little lines I heard one day,  Traveling along life’s busy way;  Bringing conviction to my heart,  And from my mind would not depart;  Only one life, ’twill soon be past,  Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                      C.T. Studd


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