Do you ever feel like there’s a gigantic gap between the woman you are and the one you want to be? I do. The woman I want to be lives in my mind, somewhere between the endless to-do lists and the names of all the Sesame Street muppets. She is innately patient. Fearlessly radical. She believes that God is faithful, even when it feels like He’s forgotten her. She always chooses the better thing–to feed her soul instead of her flesh, to submit instead of defy, to rejoice instead of complain. She never snaps at her children or nags her husband.
In fact, the only person she ever irritates is me. She eludes me and haunts me at the same time. She is the woman I think about five seconds after I say the thing I shouldn’t have said. The woman I think about when my kids are in bed and I’m wishing I hadn’t been so impatient with them. I think about her when I meet someone really sunny who never seems to doubt God. And I think about her on the really cloudy days when I feel guilty for not climbing out of my own discouragement.
I used to think I could bridge the gap between her and me in one giant leap. Maybe a Beth Moore conference? A weekend prayer retreat? But I never could make the leap. At times I thought I had, and then inevitably I would disappoint myself. Struggle with the same old sin. Fail in the same old way.
Sometime this summer it finally clicked with me. The journey from me to her is a small step journey. It is not made up of grandiose conferences or life-altering experiences. It is made up of millions upon millions of tiny moments. Paul David Tripp taught me this when he wrote, “the character and quality of our life is forged in little moments. We tend to back away from the significance of these little moments because they are little moments. [But] these are the moments that make up our lives.”
In context, he was writing about all the little thoughts, words, and choices that shape a marriage and set the stage for the future. But I am finding this “small-moment approach” is a great way to live all of life. I have come to pray a very simple prayer throughout the day. Whether I’m believing a lie, battling idols, or itching to erupt, in the heat of the moment all I pray is, “God, help me win this small-moment battle!” That’s all I focus on. I don’t think about overcoming every battle, or making a personal sanctification plan, or donning a cape and painting supermom across my forehead. I just focus on the one small battle before me, and by God’s power with Christ’s help, I fight to win. Then, ten minutes later, when the baby dumps a bowl of spaghetti onto my mother-in-law’s carpet, I pray, “God, help me win this small-moment battle!” And so it goes.
You build a house one brick at a time, write a book one word at a time, and live a life one moment at a time. You and I don’t have to become the Proverbs 31 woman tomorrow. We just have to throw ourselves upon the grace and power of Christ to live faithfully today. To make the wise choice. To say the kind thing. To reject the awful thought. To repent and get back up again. And one day we will look back and realize that over a lifetime–over a million small moments–God grew us.
Mother Theresa, Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther, Jessica Simpson–they all have one thing in common. They became who they are one small moment at a time. And so will we.
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