“When I first arrived, I thought, ‘This is the worst decision I’ve ever made!’” At 23, my oldest sister, Becky, enlisted in the army and soon found herself in hot, sticky Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for basic training. However, she quickly realized she wasn’t physically ready for bootcamp. She could barely squeeze out five push-ups. Between endless hikes carrying 50-60 pounds of gear, digging trenches, and getting screamed at by her sergeants, she often doubted if she had what it took to complete training. She developed stress fractures in her feet and legs. At times, she was tempted to fake a mental breakdown. She had never done anything so physically and mentally taxing.
However, over time, she started to improve. By the end of bootcamp, she could do 88 push-ups and passed each training category. “Your body starts to adapt and you don’t really realize it,” she told me.
If you feel bogged down right now, and all you can see are your failures, don’t give up.
Sometimes, after you enlist in God’s army, life seems to become more difficult than it was before. But that is not because God is creating problems for us–it’s because learning to live by love, instead of selfishness, is a process, and starting that process reveals the dysfunction that has been in us all along. Becky felt better physically before she started bootcamp, but she wasn’t actually in better shape. Basic training only revealed where she was at physically.
After you start following Jesus and studying His love, you might realize that you gossip a lot about your roommate. You yell at your kids when they don’t listen. You’ve damaged your relationships with your addictions. But you also know that you don’t want to be that person anymore. And by God’s grace, Jesus transforms you.
The Bible calls this process repentance, and it means a reversal in your ways, a change in your trajectory. But, like basic training for Becky, changing directions is not instantaneous. Transformation takes time. Imagine if you’re driving a car and going to make a U-turn, typically, you have to slow down quite a bit to make the turn. Jesus put it this way: “No one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5:39, emphasis added).
If you feel bogged down right now, and all you can see are your failures, don’t give up. Keep pressing on as “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). The Captain of our salvation is in the process of turning your life around.
Allie is a 2012 ARISE graduate and on-staff writer and communications assistant for Light Bearers. She is fascinated by the intersection of faith and the creative process and enjoys poetry. When she’s not watching a good movie with her friends, she enjoys narrating life with mediocre accents.