Little Choices are Huge

Ask anyone who has ever made a mess of their life and, more often than not, they will confirm that it wasn’t one indiscretion that ruined them.

Nearly without exception, ruined relationships, financial ruin or moral failure will be the result of small choices that seemed benign at first, but grew little by little into bigger and more far-reaching compromises.

Often the downward spiral starts with some internal pain that longs to be soothed.  An emptiness waiting to be filled.  Human nature has an uncanny way of compensating for this internal gnawing. The heart makes deals with the mind to justify each choice, eventually shifting a person’s path completely off-course one deceiving moment at a time.

Here is the good news. Healthy spiritual lives are built in exactly the same way — small daily choices made one moment at a time.  When the familiar internal gnawing begins, a healthy heart learns to seek wisdom rather than running the other way and honesty trumps the desire to hide.  Small victories, one at a time, keep a life moving TOWARD the Source of joy rather than away from Him.

An example from my own life is… I really like to be funny. That alone isn’t a big deal, right?  But the problem lies deep in my heart. I tend to use humor in ways that aren’t healthy. Not always, but often enough. My particular brand of humor can quickly turn snarky, or sarcastic, or unwise, or simply unnecessary. I’ve had to become more honest with myself and admit that I use humor to mask less attractive emotions. Being funny, for me, is a coping tool that – when not applied with wisdom – reflects an undisciplined, unfiltered heart.

I can’t justify mean words, or hateful attacks…those are so blatantly wrong.  But being funny, I tell myself, is so much better. I can even talk myself into believing that words could really be classified three ways: right, wrong and funny – as if “funny” is off-limits from being a wrong choice.

It is such a subtle thing. It would seem that a desire to be funny is far less damaging than a desire for alcohol, or greed, or sexual sin. But when anything, regardless of how benign it seems, gets in the way of me living authentically and speaking the  truth in love… it needs to go.  When I’ve got something funny to say at someone else’s expense, or which doesn’t serve any better purpose than making someone laugh, it is time to identify what real underlying emotions are driving my need to be funny.

Dealing with real emotions in a healthy way, rather than masking them in humor, is a better habit than flying off at the mouth. But the bonus is…the discipline applied to my speech invariably shows up in other areas of my life in positive ways.

The big picture of our life is painted by the small brushstrokes we make each moment of each day. Owning every small, intentional brush stroke gives us the best possible chance of loving the finished work of art when the masterpiece is complete at last.

4 thoughts on “Little Choices are Huge

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  1. You once asked me if I was listening in on Bill’s calls about a project… well now I can ask you if you’ve been looking over my shoulder today. You’ve left me with a lot to think about. Thank you.

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  2. You could very well have been describing me in your post. Having a quick wit has both served me well and been a point of failure in my life. I found proverbs over the years have assisted my pause and rewind button in terms of speaking and foolishness. I do love a good laugh though -and find satire a hilarious way of showcasing humanity but there is always a line to be drawn around humour and it’s tricky at times not to override it. I agree with all you say – and I love how you describe that pay off between heart and mind. So aptly put. Your writing is delightful. Keep it up.

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