Choosing to Backtrack-
CONFESSIONS OF A Rule-following, Tax-Paying, Church-Going…..SINNER
I hate backtracking, while doing housework, while traveling but especially during grocery shopping. When grocery shopping my plan is to enter the right door, go up and down the aisles one by one from the right to the left of the store, follow my list, visit the ladies’ room at the far left corner, check out and exit the left door.
The top 5 things that ruin my plan
#5. I don’t have my glasses, squint, realize I misread my list but only after an important item is already 2 aisles back.
#4- I don’t forget my glasses, assume I know what’s on the list, skip something and it’s 3 aisles back.
#3- I forget to put something on the list, think of it and it’s 4 aisles back.
#2- I get a text from my daughter wanting something and it’s 5 aisles back.
#1- And the number one backtracking annoyance when I am shopping – drinking too much water just before I enter the store and need to visit the ladies’ room 1st instead of last, thereby making my whole trip one big backtrack to the first aisle. I just don’t like backtracking.
Yet one of the best opportunities that God offers me is the ability to ‘backtrack.’ Well, that’s what I call it. God has shown me things about myself that no one else could. Things that I would never listen to anyone else tell me. My pride would not allow me to see nor hear any of it. Backtracking was a lesson only God could teach me.
At the grocery store I constantly avoid ‘it.’ Some of my resolutions to backtracking are:
#5- When they were with me, I would send one of my daughters back to get the item. I spent lots of time pointing and saying, “It’s okay, you will find it and if you don’t just ask someone.” (and that was when they were, oh, 3 or 4 years old).
#4- Skip it if it wasn’t needed for dinner that night, because I knew I would be back at the grocery store within two days anyway.
#3- Weave back through an aisle that I don’t usually shop (dog food), grab the item, weave back through the dog food aisle again so it wouldn’t seem so much like backtracking.
#2- Try to substitute an item that I missed with an item from the aisle I was in-ice cream instead of potatoes (works for me)
#1A- HOLD IT, until I get to the far left corner of the store, which is very distracting and makes me forget lots of things, even things on the list.
#1B- DON’T HOLD IT, sneak to the far left corner of the store, swerve around some other aisles that I don’t usually go through (hair and makeup products) get back to the right side of the store and begin shopping. Ahhh, the satisfaction of not backtracking!
I lived my life as a ‘good girl,’ doing the right things and not feeling the need to ‘backtrack’ on anything. At least that’s what I thought. But then God began to show me all the ways I was not right with Him- the sin in my actions, the sin in my attitude, the sin in my heart. And when I saw ‘the real me’ I was floored. Worst of all I had thought I was ‘alright with God.’ Thinking I was ‘good enough’ to gain His love. Then He showed me the sin of my pride. He did not show me this all at once. It literally took years for me to realize the depth of my ‘pharisee-like’ life. I was shocked, ashamed and sorry. He showed me that He is the only way out of this big tangle of sins I am in. I was and still am amazed at God’s Love for me that He would send His Son to die for sins, even my sins.
Back to backtracking. Is that backtracking? Because if it is, I need to rewrite this a different way so that it isn’t……(there I go again) Without, Jesus and the Holy Spirit I don’t ‘see’ the things that I do wrong. I ignore the fact that I like to live for me, myself and I. But as a sinner that is saved by Christ I now have the choice to do what is right in God’s eyes. When God offers me a chance to do what I call ‘backtracking’ my resolution can be to choose to do it rather than dodging it.
I remember one of the first times that God showed me the need to backtrack……. My daughters and I went to CVS pharmacy. My husband was sick and needed Nyquil (cold medicine). I did not feel like going in the store, so I sent my 13 year old in to get it. (this shortly after the law passed that under-age persons could not purchase cold medicine) She came right out, without it and stated she could not buy it because she was not old enough. This was an outrage to me! Anger welled up and I stomped into that store, walked straight back to the pharmacy. We had to go to the counter because cold medicine was now behind it. I proceeded to give the pharmacy-man a piece of my mind. Not a little piece, not a good piece and definitely not a quiet piece. But the angry piece of my mind that thought this was the dumbest, most ridiculous, stupidest thing ever. I showed my license and paid for the Nyquil, grumbling the entire time. He just stared, wrote down the number and gave me the medicine. I stomped out with my girls following me.
I had no regrets for my actions. I didn’t even think of it again, until a few days later. It was God who told me that I did the wrong thing……People (even me) ask, ‘How does someone know when God is talking to you?” I hate to give a generic answer but, “He lets you know it’s Him. You will know.” The couple of days had passed and I was doing my daily Bible reading. I wasn’t even trying to find something about ‘making-up-for-doing-wrong.’ That’s how God deals with me. I may be reading about Noah and the ark and then a Bible verse sends me to another and then leads somewhere else to a different verse and so on. And that’s how it happened that day. God led me to Proverbs and it said:
A fool gives full vent to his anger,
But a wise man keeps himself under control.
The first morning it happened, I just by-passed it. On the next day when it happened again but with a different Proverbs verse
Fools mock at making amends for sin,
But goodwill is found among the upright.
…….I knew God was talking to me. (It usually takes me a couple of times to get something and I am thankful that God is patient with me). God was telling me that that I needed to apologize to that pharmacy-man at CVS. What?! No way! First of all it IS a stupid law, second that’s embarrassing and third what would I say to someone that I don’t even know? But, I reread those Words in Proverbs. I knew exactly what God was talking about. Those Words were for me. Not only did I have to apologize, but I also had to take a gift! Wow, how embarrassing is that. So a couple of days had passed since it happened and I get the girls in the car, not telling them where we are going. I don’t know what to get pharmacy-man. I am not sure that he will be there. I am not even sure I can go through with it. I drive around aimlessly. The girls kept asking me, “Mom, where are we going?” No answer. I couldn’t decide what ‘gift’ to take. I stopped at one place and picked up a greeting card and signed it. The girls were really curious by then. I then stopped at a gas station and picked up a gas gift card. Still more questions from them, no answers from me. We arrived at CVS. Would the same pharmacy-man be there? We walked back to the pharmacy and a couple aisles away from the pharmacy counter I pointed and asked my daughter if that was the same pharmacy-man from a couple of days ago. It was. We weaved through aisles some more. I was nervous. The girls followed me, thinking I was crazy. Finally, I swallowed my pride (only God’s Holy Spirit could help me with this), walked up to the counter, girls at my side. I asked the pharmacy-man if he remembered me from a couple of days ago and he said yes. I quickly apologized and gave him the card. He looked very perplexed. I did not wait for a response. I turned around and with my daughters took the straightest path down an aisle and out of that store. Back in the car, I breathed easier and then I told my daughters what I had to do. God told me that I had to apologize for the way I had acted toward that unsuspecting pharmacy-man at CVS. I don’t know what they thought except relief that I was not a crazed pharmacy-man stalker. This was ‘backtracking’ and as much as I hated it and as much as I wanted to hold on to my pride I couldn’t. And I am glad. God gave me a choice that day. He showed me my wrong attitude, wrong actions, wrong heart and how to do the right thing-in His eyes.
That was few years ago and I wish I could say that my backtracking days are over. But that’s not the case. I still have times when I need to backtrack for my bad attitude and actions. God’s Holy Spirit also brings things to my mind before I act them out. I have opportunity and choice to act like a raving maniac or not. Without God I am just a raving maniac. With God I am a sinner saved by grace with choices to make.
I am not chained to sin anymore. A few years back I rewrote the words to a famous 80’s song. I would sit down to study God’s Word or prepare for church activities and these words would go through my mind over and over- ‘Once I ran to sin, now I run from sin.’ The tune lingered with these words, yet I hadn’t heard that song for years. Tim helped me remember the song was “Tainted Love” by Softcell. Six months later when I finished writing all the words that God gave me, it became “Perfect Love.” (words at the end) It sums up how I am trying to live. Not perfect, not a do-gooder, not trying to earn God’s Love (because I can’t), but just someone running FROM sin, not TO sin. It is dynamic and ongoing. God shows me more of my sin or a sin-of-the-day, I try to repent of it. And sometimes comes the dreaded backtracking – the times I lie, lose my temper etc. You know, it’s not easy to go to someone and admit that I was wrong or that I did the wrong thing. But my resolution is to do it. I get to acknowledge it, apologize, ask forgiveness for my mistakes. And yes I said ‘get to’ backtrack.
I still avoid backtracking at the grocery store, so if you are behind me please hurry and catch up so I don’t have to backtrack to say hello. But I thank God every time He shows me something that I need to backtrack on in my life, because now I am free of the chains that bind me to that sin. He has given me choice to live for Him and it’s the least that I can do after what He has already done for me.
Tune: Tainted Love by Soft Cell
Reworded by Linda Gage
At times I felt I had to ……..run away
I had to …………………get away
From the pain this life was causing me
The love I’d share ….seemed to go nowhere
So I’d toss and turn I couldn’t sleep at night
ONCE I RAN TO SIN, NOW I RUN FROM SIN
This PERFECT LOVE You’ve given
I know there’s nothing I can give you
You took my sins and that’s not really all
PERFECT LOVE…….’OOOOOOHHHH’ ….PERFECT LOVE
Now I know that I won’t ……run away
I see the light…………….today
You don’t really need anything from me
To make things right
You were the per…..fect sacrifice
And when I’m far a…way
I know that you’ll love me anyway
ONCE I RAN TO SIN, NOW I RUN FROM SIN
This PERFECT LOVE You’ve given
I know there’s nothin’ I can give You
You took my sins and that’s not really all
PERFECT LOVE…..OOOOOOHHHH….PERFECT LOVE
Lord touch my heart
Your hand is never far
I love you and you showed my why
Now I’m gonna fol…low you for life
PERFECT LOVE…..OOOHHH….PERFECT LOVE
PERFECT LOVE…..OOOHHH…..PERFECT LOVE
TOUCH ME WITH YOUR PERFECT LOVE
GUIDE ME WITH YOUR PERFECT LOVE
PERFECT LOVE…..OOOHHH…PERFECT LOVE