“There is trouble in the air, destruction is everywhere
And men are being trampled beneath the soil
And nations, great and small, have now begun to fall
Oh come let us go back to God, go back to God” written by Thomas Dorsey, as sung by Donnie McClurkin
When I talk about backsliding, I often mean it negatively. When I backslide, I’m going to back old, often negative, habits and ways of thinking. Like every normal person, I have times when I’m disciplined, motivated, and therefore feeling and being successful. If I “relapse” into past behavior, it is usually because I’m exhausted, demoralized, and struggling physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. Life goes in cycles. It’s never a journey of point A to point B. So why do I hold myself to that unrealistic black and white thinking? What if “going back” has its benefits?
Para los que me conocen, y’all know I’m often goal-driven. I take on reading challenges, savings challenges, and prayer challenges. I train for half-marathons and for street performances of various choreographies. I do weeklong class hops, novenas of daily masses, 40 day fasts, and multi-week fitness programs. But I don’t always complete these goals to the best of my ability. Sometimes I don’t complete them at all. Then I spend some time beating myself up about those failures. Fortunately, time and life experience has taught me to seek humility. Life has taught me that failure is a good time to turn back to God.
I said it. As important as my faith life is to me, God doesn’t always come first. “Well, I guess we won’t go to Mass Carnaval weekend because I’m not about to sit in church in my costume.” God doesn’t always fit on a busy schedule. While I thank God when I’m succeeding, I spend less time with Him while I’m busy working towards that success. I’m going, going, going. Literally and figuratively running. A quick grace over a rushed meal. Half a rosary done on the commute from one family activity to another. I don’t build in time for devotion.
It is in times of struggle and failure that I truly give myself over to God. When I’ve been diagnosed with illnesses, I have stood with God. When I’ve struggled with work situations, I have had long, emotional conversations with God. When I have lost loved ones, I have found comfort from God. Where human motivation and individual goals waver, God is constant.