This sentiment has been echoing throughout blogs and books I've read, Bible studies I've attended, and guidance I've sought out in the past week. I'm beginning to get a clear picture of my newest goal--simply taking one intentional step.
I'm a big change kind of gal. I want to do something major. Funky colors in my hair. Write an album's worth of songs. Make banners for every week of Lent and each Holy Week service (but seriously..what was I thinking?). Become an expert at all that I scratch on the surface. When asked how I can work on myself, I give a list of 10 things I'm starting immediately. This is me. I won't always jump, but when I do, I run, leap, twist in the air, and cannonball into whatever it is, expecting to make the tidal wave splash.
I want to win the marathon as soon as I cross the starting line. I struggle with the single steps.
If you're anything like me, you can get hung up on the fact that life isn't perfect. When things are hard, out of sync, or even feel broken for me, I follow one of two tendencies (usually one, then the other).
1.) I wallow thinking all is lost.
"This thing sucks. He hurt me. She is so difficult to deal with. This isn't working. I'm not where I want to be. I don't know what to do." Sound familiar? Maybe it's just me. I struggle to turn off the reruns of my life's worst clips. I have to put up mental stop signs and not allow myself to go there anymore. I have to ask God to show me all the blessings He's given me and to fill me with gratitude. Choosing not to wallow is difficult sometimes, but choosing to continuing wallowing is, by no means, what Jesus had in mind for our "life to the full."
2.) Scrap it all and start over!
Then, I pendulum swing. I make some bold proclamation followed by a bold step. Usually it doesn't last for too long, but actually, usually shifts me just enough to accomplish jarring me out of my wallowing funk. I try to be super intentional and make a big change, but that's the problem. Gym memberships go half used. Books are left read a quarter of the way through. Healthy food spoils. The scope has been way too broad for me to be successful. I wind up feeling frustrated with a diminished sense of self-efficacy. "Welp...guess I can't fix it, so I'll just ignore it or go back to being bummed about it."
But God is teaching me about small steps. Well, even a singular "step." One step taken with purpose. One step to grow in my relationship with the Lord. Then one change to be more healthy. Then one action toward better boundaries. Then one step to grow in community. Being intentional one step at a time not only keeps us from ending up somewhere we didn't want to be without us realizing it, but it takes us somewhere better than where we are. Bit by bit. Because small steps are sure steps, that encourage forward motion without fear of backsliding or failure. Not many have energy to overhaul their life every time something feels off. Small steps are manageable and grace filled. We can win at them and victory spurs us on to take another.
I adore St. Francis of Assisi who said this: "Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
That resonates with my "go big or go home" attitude. :-) That's the power of taking a hike full of sure steps. Asking God to shape us one small adjustment at a time, takes us to a totally different world that we never thought we could actually reach.
Small steps have revitalized me and given me hope to believe I can make positive change in my story. To feel more focused, more healthy, more free with each drop of my heel is invigorating. I know I will require much grace for this less than expedited process, but I trust and believe that everything God grows takes time. Growth is slow, but somehow so riveting. Even though you never see the exact moments of movement, growth is measured over time and the beauty that unfolds is well worth the wait.
I know that I'm just starting the marathon of intentional steps I want to take in my story, but I'm learning that I can't finish a marathon without taking that first sure step.