It always surprises me when a weakness I’ve been working on for a long time–and I think it’s been buried–rises up again. Then I must remind myself that growth is not based on a time line but a spiral. If growth is based on a time line, then a struggle can seemingly be left behind. It’s over and done with. That’s what we would like, but a weakness is more often not completely conquered. More often, it reveals itself in subtle new ways.

Instead, growth is actually like a spiral. If we picture going up a spiral, some weaknesses will flare up again when we hit the left side, for instance. Take my “all or nothing” attitude. Yes, please take it! Please take it away–completely! (Even “completely” is an all or nothing attitude).

As a broad category weakness for me, I’ve been working on it for decades! It’s one of the characteristics of my perfectionism. I’m a recovering perfectionist and as I travel down the sanctification path, my “all or nothing” weakness gets tweaked every time I hit the left side of the spiral. I think I’m doing great and then boom!, it shows it’s ugly face.

I see it when I put things on my desk with the thought, “I’ll wait until later when I have time to do it all.” Instead of only touching a piece of paper once, I make piles waiting for the perfect period of time when I can do it all. Instead of doing something, I do nothing, waiting for the moment I can do it all.

If I keep thinking growth is on a time-line, I’ll become discouraged by “I’ll never conquer this. I might as well give up!” But if I see growth as a spiral, I can realize, “Yes, here’s my weakness again. I have another opportunity to deal with it and turn it over to the Lord. Help me, Lord, in this moment to do the right thing.”

Could seeing your struggles as growth opportunities on a spiral help you? I hope so. Don’t be discouraged, just keep turning it over to the Lord.