What is Progress and How do you Know if You are Getting Better?

There are only two directions you can go in life: forward, and nowhere. “What about backwards?” I hear someone reading this post asking. Well, you could technically go backwards too. If that is the case for you, then I would suggest for you to consider why you are going backwards. Typically, people only go backwards for a reason. Short of self-sabotage the only reason I can think of for someone going backwards is because it’s a setup to propel them even further ahead. The Bible says that God takes us from one level to another. This implies a perpetual moving forward.

From a pragmatic perspective no one gets younger. For example, once you turn 18 years old, for your next birthday, you do not turn 17. Once you graduate from the 11th grade, you move forward to 12th grade, not backwards to 10th. Life itself only goes in one linear direction. Outside of your favorite DC/Marvel superhero comic/movie, there is no time travel or multi-dimension that we can access on this side of reality.

Once the year 1999 changed to the year 2000, the previous year was done.

Some of the things that existed in that previous year, decade, or century, may reemerge in a ‘back to the future’ type of scenario (think retro clothing), but for all intents and purposes, progress is part of life’s grand design.

With that as the foundation for this topic, what do you do when you know objectively that you are progressing, but your life is “showing” you something else? The first thing to realize, is that “better has perspective”. What I mean by that is, you are fundamentally better today than you were yesterday. That being said however, “better” isn’t always obvious. Sometimes it is difficult to identify growth in your own life, especially when you are growing in a barren place.

Consider the Israelites in the desert. For 40 years they wandered. The land was so barren, that unless God performed regular miracles during that season of the nation’s life, they would have surely died.

You may find yourself in a desert season right now. You have been working on that same job for years, and your name has not even come up for a promotion. Maybe you have been encountering the same problem over and over and over again – it’s been persistent.

You may be asking yourself: “how can I be getting better, but I am always coming up against the same thing? I’ve been in the desert for years now, and short of a mirage in the distance, a land flowing with milk and honey seems like a pipe dream”.

Firstly, if I am describing you, let me just encourage you that the mirage is real. The Bible says to not grow tired in doing good. Your promise is coming for you. Progress is forward mobility. To appropriate “Finding Nemo”: just keep swimming. The nation of Israel did eventually go into the promise land. You will inherit what has been given to you. What God has for you, is in fact for you. You know you are getting better when you can keep moving forward.

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