Small beginnings. Long and lonely middles. The promise of happy endings. We know it’s a process; we know it’s a journey… And yet sometimes we just honestly struggle to start. And then, we are surprised when the middle is so rough and rocky.
It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not natural, and it takes self-discipline. I hate self discipline… It feels like self-denial. It means by choice you have to deprive yourself of instant gratification. It means you often can’t do what’s easy, but rather have to work hard. It often causes what feels to be an undeserved delay as self discipline will cause you to stay the course.
But, here is a little advice:
“Make short-term decisions with long-term outcomes in mind.”
Here is what I mean. Get a vision, make it clear and keep it in front of you… Use that vision to help motivate your choices, all your choices.
Use every opportunity to align your decisions towards that vision. Fight every temptation to shortchange yourself by making a weak decision that will set you back or send you off course. Your flesh will send you around the mountain (again) and your natural flesh and natural tendency may derail the progress. Every decision will either lead your towards your goal, or away from it. Period.
Do you want a healthy marriage? What’s your vision? Picture yourself and your spouse surrounded by your grown kids and future grandkids… Mentally see your 50th wedding anniversary. Then, make your every-day decisions and responses in a way that will lead you towards that goal. Every time. Impatient? Critical? Distracted? Selfish? Bored? Feeling entitled to more? Irritable? Know-it-all? Stop. Change your thoughts, overpower your flesh with the Word, and load up on Truth. It’s time to change your behavior and start making different decisions. Start thinking differently. You can start reacting differently. It is possible to lead your heart and better manage your emotions. Start preferring your spouse, deferring to your spouse. Pray for him, pray for yourself. Respect, compassion, tender-affection, submission, graciousness, patience, mercy, attraction, intimacy. It’s possible! Love him through the fruits of the Spirit. Start leading your heart and closing the gap on any potential for separation or strife in your marriage. Take a step. Start. You start by working on you, by paying attention to the little decision that are lead you towards (or away) from a happy marriage. Begin to make the journey towards the marriage you want.
Want a better prayer life and faith walk? Start making each decision with that in mind. Start a new habit. Pray out loud. Read the Word. Study. Listen to sermons, spend time with the Father, worship more. Create a spirit of gratitude and contentment. Rearrange your time and prioritize your life and place value of this relationship. Be consistent. Relationships take time and effort. Start. Start, and before you know it, the depth of your relationship with Christ will be motivated by your love, not based out of obligation or duty. That love for your Father will drive you to new habits and new normals, but it may not happen until after you start changing some of your daily decisions. Read my blog, yes, but after that – put the phone down and spend some time with Jesus!
Want to lose weight? Can you see yourself healthy? What does that look like and how do you get there? Stop eating foods that don’t line up with your desire to be healthy. Start adding movement and fitness into your day. See yourself healthy, and let every small decision be a reflection of your confident hope that you can indeed accomplish the goal! You can be healthy! It will take denying the flesh and delaying the instant gratification. It’s hard, it’s not easy, but it’s possible. It is possible – but not until you START, and then NEVER STOP! You may not be able to physically endure much exercise right now, but if you are willing to start small and be consistent, your body will respond to your efforts. Your endurance and strength will increase. Support your attempts to exercise and eat healthy by repeating them again and again! This is how you will get stronger and begin to enjoy it! You can actually change your preference by being consistent.
This method of thinking transfers to nearly anything. Start seeing your dreams. Put them out in front of you and align each decision you make towards the end goal.
Start today and then stop compromising!
You can!!! Start-middle-finish. No matter how bumpy the start or how long the middle, keep pushing towards your goal. You may never “arrive” but I can assure you, there is grace for the moment and joy in the journey… I believe God will help you along the way, but time and time again…you got to get to steppin!- and don’t stop!
Regardless how you start, start. Start the journey, maintain the vision, and don’t stop until you finish well!