“Keep coming back”

Over the years, I have heard from several people who attend recovery groups that a common refrain at their meetings is “keep coming back.”

It’s often said after a newcomer shares a bit of their story and even more often, after anyone at all expresses their exasperation, frustration or despair about their ability to successfully work the principles of the program.

This invitation of “keep coming back” encourages the members to continue to “suit up and show up” for meetings so the group can support them as they focus on “progress, not perfection.”

I think most of us can relate to wishing we were getting “better” faster than we are.

We wish we could watch what we eat for a few weeks and see noticeable results.

We wish we could put some extra effort in at work on Monday and get the promotion or recognition by Friday.

We wish we could make an amends to someone we hurt and have them want to go for coffee next Tuesday.

We wish we could pray for God to deliver us from our shortcomings and character defects and have them be removed immediately as if we were undergoing some sort of exorcism.

I suppose I should be using “I” sentences, rather than assuming you share all this “wishing” with me.

Indeed, “I” wish all of the above.

I wish for the last one with all my might.

I wish it and pray for it and try try try to put in the effort to make it happen.

I want all the yucky out of me. I want to stop comparing, controlling, gossiping, fretting, grouching, complaining, doubting, and hating.

The other night I went to bed lamenting that I couldn’t seem to exorcise all the ugly, no matter how I worked at it. Why am I almost 53 and act like a bratty child much of the time. Has hardship and suffering taught me nothing?

After I fell asleep, wondering at the “why” of all that, I woke up with a start and heard this phrase clear as a bell: “Keep coming back.”

I believe it was an invitation from God to let it go already. The bad news of it is I will never be perfectly holy in this life. The good news is, God doesn’t expect me to be. That’s why He sent Jesus. To make up the difference.

I will never be anything more than a work in progress. My only hope is to just “keep coming back.”

Coming back to God, first and foremost.

Coming back to His grace, His understanding of my human nature (that He created in me, by the way) and His gentle open arms to comfort and tend to my broken parts.

I can keep coming back to scriptures like the one by Paul who wrote the book of Romans. In a nutshell, in Romans 7 he expresses his disappointment in his own behavior:

“The good I want to do, I can’t seem to do. But the bad I don’t want to do, this, I keep on doing.”

His conclusion is the same as mine. We can do little more than continue to return to God.

Return to the places and people that give us grace and spur us on as we forge ahead with new resolve.

And above all, return to what we know to be true about God’s mercy and grace: He took it all on himself so we don’t have to.

We must desire to think and behave better because we love Him, not because we have to earn His love for us by how we think and behave.

If you have ever grieved over your inability do the good you want to do and avoid the bad you do not want to do, I invite you to keep coming back, friend.

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