As Christians, we lose our way many times and at many seasons. The following piece by Samuel Johnson spells out the process as well as I've ever heard it. If you have missed your mark may this encourage you.
“Son,” said the hermit, “let the errors and follies, the dangers and escapes of this day sink deep into thy heart. Remember, my son, that human life is the journey of a day. We rise in the morning of youth, full of vigor, and full of expectation; we set forward with spirit and hope, with gayety and with diligence, and travel on a while in the straight road of piety towards the mansions of rest. In a short time we remit our fervor, and endeavor to find some mitigation of our duty, and some more easy means of obtaining the same end. We then relax our vigor, and resolve no longer to be terrified with crimes at a distance, but rely upon our own constancy, and venture to approach what we resolved never to touch. We thus enter the bowers of ease, and repose in the shades of security. Here the heart softens, and vigilance subsides; we are then willing to enquire whether another advance cannot be made, and whether we may not, at least, turn our eyes upon the gardens of pleasure. We approach them with scruple and hesitation; we enter them, but enter timorous and trembling; and always hope to pass through them without losing the road of virtue, which we, for a while, keep in our sight, and to which we propose to return. But temptation succeeds temptation, and one compliance prepares us for another; we in time lose the happiness of innocence, and solace our disquiet with sensual gratifications. By degrees we let fall the remembrance of our original intention, and quit the only adequate object of rational desire. We entangle ourselves in business, immerge ourselves in luxury, and rove through the labyrinths of inconstancy, till the darkness of old age begins to invade us, and disease and anxiety obstruct our way. We then look back upon our lives with horror, with sorrow, with repentance; and wish, but too often vainly wish, that we had not forsaken the ways of virtue. Happy are they, my son, who shall learn from the example not to despair but shall remember, that though the day is past, and their strength is wasted, there yet remains one effort to be made; that reformation is never hopeless, nor sincere endeavors every unassisted; that the wanderer may at length return after all his errors; and that he who implores strength and courage from above, shall find danger and difficulty give way before him. Go now, my son, to thy repose; commit thyself to the care of Omnipotence; and when the morning calls again to toil, begin anew thy journey and thy life.”
Samuel Johnson, photo by Yiannis G.