What If Progress Looks Different Than You Picture?

Do you ever feel like you’re going in circles?

Repeating the same struggles.

Relearning the same lessons.

Remembering the same truths.

Regaining old victories.

Over and over and over.

How can we be growing in grace and increasing in the knowledge of God when we’re simply traveling in circles?

Earlier this week, I spent an hour or so reviewing my journal from the past twelve months. I was blessed to see God’s faithfulness, but I was also humbled by His patience and surprised by my repetition.

If my journal weren’t handwritten, I might wonder if I had copied and pasted several times. With a bird’s eye view of the year, I saw so clearly the reoccurring doubts, struggles, victories…and then repeats of the same. Not just once or twice, but often.

Then, just when I would begin to wonder if I had gone in circles all year, I’d come to a break-through entry that marked a forward step of faith or a concrete decision breaking the cycle.

Only…as I read further, I saw it wasn’t a once-and-for-all step, just motion in the right direction—leading to a higher, wider circle where the repetition continued.

That got me thinking about something my sister suggested some years ago: Is it possible that when we feel we are going in circles God is actually leading us upward and onward through repetition? Perhaps we are learning the same truths on new levels, each time growing in our faith and increasing in our knowledge of God.


I’m of course not saying that if we refuse to grow or fail to apply biblical truth we magically move forward.

But where our hearts are toward God, where our desire is to know Him and serve Him, where our steps are directed in faith, let’s trust that every application of truth and action of obedience is not wasted in meaningless circles.

Let’s trust that God is directing our steps and expanding our capacity to follow Him.

And let’s be encouraged that when He commands us to increase and abound, He helps us to do it—if not in a direct line, in an upward spiral.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.—Romans 5:3–5