The more I dwell on this quote, the more I understand its truth.
This quote is often attributed to Tolkien, although I've found it nowhere in his writing so I suppose that it isn't true. But I can see how people attribute him, because you can see it hidden in every one of his pages. In the small steps of brave Hobbits, in the journey of the Fellowship, in the story of the Ring. Middle Earth was not saved in one large jump, it was saved in small steps. Little by little. So whether or not this is something Tolkien ever actually wrote, it is something he plainly believed in.
In our lives, although we may not accomplish such grand things, this quote remains true. We are traveling, little by little. And at the end of our road, we will be far from where we began.
Each choice is a small step that will push us forward. Life goes on, and we continue to travel. But what we must decide is in which direction will we go. And now for another quote, one that I'm pretty sure Tolkien actually did write, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." Because the choices we make today will impact the choices we make tomorrow, and slowly we will be in an entirely different place than we begun. We will either be consumed by the world and the darkness, or we will conquer sin and shine our light.
I can sit around all day and dream of how I want my life to be. How I want to honor God, be a loving wife, be a devoted mother, build a successful business, live a healthy life. But if my choices don't reflect my dreams, I'll never travel towards them. I'll just continue to drift father. What I need to ask myself is this, before every decision I make: which direction will this choice lead me in?
Will this decision...
- Bring me closer in my relationship with Jesus?
- Allow God to work through me to bring about His will?
- Be loving towards my family, myself, my friends, and all of humankind?
- Honor my husband?
- Honor my body as a temple of God?
- Bring me closer to my health and lifestyle goals?
- Benefit Lily's mind, body, spirit, and soul?
- Build Lily up as a strong, smart, and joyful young lady?
- Benefit my mind, body, sprit, and soul?
- Allow me to fill my mind with things that are pure, noble, right, lovely, and admirable?
- Be a wise, practical, and prudent use of my money?
- Be a wise, intentional, and fulfilling way to spend my time?
If I can't answer "yes" with confidence to at least one of these questions, maybe it's something I shouldn't be doing. And oh, how this is convicting me right now. I can think of more than 20 choices I've made in the last week that were a big fat "no" to these questions. Stuffing my face while I wasn't even really hungry? Spending money on things I didn't really need? Wasting an entire day worrying over meaningless things? Intentionally shopping at a store that I know supports causes and 'values' that I firmly disagree with? "Forgetting" to go to the gym?
Because in one, five, and ten years, where do I want to be? I want to be the kind of person that says "yes" to all (okay, realistically most) of those questions everyday. I want to be the mama who feeds her family healthy food, in a at least semi-clean house, on a semi-regular basis. I want to have true joy in my heart and build joy in Alex, and Lily, and any other babies that we might be blessed with. I want to have a business that is moderately successful but never takes priority over my family. I want to be a cool mom, and a loving mom, and a mom who occasionally takes time to relax and doesn't feel guilty about it because she has a million other things she 'should' be doing.
It takes time and hard, hard work because tiny steps feel so insignificant at the time. They are little pebbles or little trickles of water. Like eating a donut. It's no big deal, right? It's just one donut. Because I want to eat a freakin' donut. But if I eat a donut every time I want to eat one, I'd be eating like 10 donuts a day and that would most definitely lead me far, far away from the place I want to be. Little choices, little 'no's', will add up and lead me in the way I want to go. Little 'yes's', like reading my Bible or spending dedicated time with Lily, will do the same.
So where do you want to go? And which direction are your little steps leading you?