It’s odd how a million small decisions can lead up to a changed life.
I noticed this recently, on our trip out west. How each unforeseen curvature in the trip didn’t really stress me out. We laid out our best plans, scheduled time with specific friends, then kept our hands open and palms up. When someone got sick and had to cancel, we had to shift everything around. Instead of causing me to panic, it caused me to pray. We knew God had opened a window of time in our measly, few days in California, to accommodate someone else, and we simply need to ask God how He wanted to spend “our” time. Besides, ultimately, all time is His’ time.
On our way back to the airport, a friend remarked about the peace I’d experienced when our plans kept getting shifted. Perhaps it helped that we had more people to see than time to spend, and it felt more like an opportunity than a loss. But I don’t really think that’s it. Because the stress of having to reschedule and re-work (especially when other’s schedules were involved) would have really stressed out my younger-self.
That’s the thing about a younger-self, isn’t it? You can look back over your shoulder, and see all the transformation. This is the exact reason I wouldn’t trade out the aches and pains of age… I’d have to trade out the wisdom with it!
I began to reflect on all those times when I had to trust the Lord with limited resources (perhaps it wasn’t time, but money back then). I would unfurl my clutched knuckles and open my palm towards heaven. I would preach to myself that everything belonged to Him, and I ought ask Him how He wanted me to spend it. I would adjust my desires to match His’, then trust He would meet my desires in His’ ways and His’ time.
As I sat in my friend’s living room, listening to her acknowledge the supernatural peace I experienced on a trip that changed like the ebbs in the ocean, I realized it wasn’t that I was just now learning to trust God on this trip. It was a million small decisions to trust Him earlier in life, when things looked bleak and impossible. When He dramatically changed my plans and ruined my expectations. When I had enough money to pay my rent, but not my water bill, and had to ask, once again, for daily, miraculous bread. All those million, small decisions to trust Him paid off, because now trust and contentment are much easier.
You’d think this thought would console me, but it also convicts me, because not all of the million, small decisions are leading me in a righteous direction. I also choose to waste my time and brain space on my phone. I choose not to take better care of my body. I choose to distract myself with worthless things when I ought to be developing my character and tending my soul. I play Solitaire when I ought to be writing. These decisions will catch up and eventually overtake me, if I don’t practice better self-control. Knowing I am forming a character puts a little fear of God in me. I want to be an amazing old lady, which is only possible if I don’t waste the opportunities of my youth to grow into the woman I hope to become.
I am certain you have those things in your life, too. Things that seem insignificant, but are actually forming your character. White lies that make you into a liar. Apathy that leads to an entire wasted life. A lack of self-control with food that leads to obesity like a domineering slave master. Or perhaps you are better at fighting those temptations, but all you feel right now is the pain of waging war against your flesh.
I am here to testify, both to the good and the bad, that our brains are making neural pathways, forming habits that form a life. Every decision we make is aiming at our trajectory. So, if you are choosing to waste it (as I sometimes, sadly, do), repent. And if you are choosing hard, holy things, do not imagine for a second that it would be better if you caved to the pressure. Cathedrals are built brick by brick. Build your cathedral as impeccably as you can!