The Work Behind the Words

A million little choices . . .

We make them every day.

What . . . who . . . to prioritize . . .

What’s important?

What’s not?

What matters?

Who matters?

Marriage? Family? Kids? Work? Church? Friends? Entertainment? Exercise? God?

Marriages succeed or fail not on one huge decision . . . although that’s often what comes into focus when we see a marriage in distress or falling apart . . . the big choice to cheat, to leave, to exist but not thrive . . . they are all seen as “the” choice that leads to failure or if not chosen, maybe, success, at the least, survival . . . but that big choice is built on a million tiny choices . . . the choice to speak words that bring life or words that tear down . . . to come home a little early . . . to forego the girls’ or guys’ night out in favor of time with our families or spouses . . . to turn off the tv or put away the phone . . . to shield and protect our hearts and our minds . . . to be willing to change and learn and grow . . . a million little choices. Most made without much thought or consideration as to how they are going to affect us, our spouses, our kids in the long term. But every choice we make speaks to what is priority in our lives. Every time we stop and think about the long-term effects of a seemingly small decision, it points back to what is priority and what is not.

Marriage. Family. Kids. Work. Church. Friends. Entertainment. Exercise. God.

It’s by no means a comprehensive list . . . and all of these things are good things. They are all important and have their place in my own personal life. But something that has been impressed upon me as of late is that setting priorities is about far more than just saying (or writing) what our priorities are and thinking that, by default, it will just happen.

I can say all day long that my priorities are:

  • God
  • Husband
  • Kids
  • Church
  • Extended family and friends
  • Self-Care/Exercise

I can manipulate the list and pay lip service to getting all the priorities in their proper place. But at the end of the day, it’s my choices that determine where my priorities truly lie. If my relationship with God is first, then I have to be putting that relationship, through reading my bible and praying, in first place on a regular basis. And if my marriage is truly second only to God, then I have to put forth the effort needed to not only maintain but also grow in that relationship. The truth is if we truly put each thing in its proper place, through our actions and decisions, then the next thing on our list will always benefit rather than suffer. If I’m daily choosing to seek God and His wisdom, my marriage will only reap what is so very good from that, and if my marriage is healthy, that will only serve to aid in teaching and growing my children. It’s a domino effect in all the best ways. And it’s the day to day, seemingly innocuous choices, that determine whether we succeed or fail, whether we thrive or just exist in this life.

So that’s the challenge today and every day. To be thoughtful and wise in the million little choices we make as we go through our lives. To pray and think and yes, use common, God given, sense when making those choices. When I was still teaching school, we often would say to our students, “Show me. Don’t tell me”. We wanted to see the work behind the words, and I believe that’s good advice no matter where you are in life. Show, through your actions and your choices, that you truly mean what you say. Don’t just tell me what matters. Show me.

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