Do you have lofty aspirations for the New Year? Are you going to lose weight? Get fit? Grow in umpteen ways in all areas of your life?
I once read a book that taught me tiny steps toward growth (Sink Reflections: Overwhelmed? Disorganized? Living in Chaos? Discover the Secrets That Have Changed the Lives of More Than Half a Million Families…). As I spent time with this concept, I realized this idea is not new. Many saints lived their lives taking tiny spiritual steps. How about a New Year of learning and growing in tiny steps with the saints?
Many saints approached life with a spirituality that was not grandiose. I believe some longed to do great things for God but realized they were being called to a simpler spirituality as well as lifestyle. Small can be a heroic way to go about life. A couple of my favorite saints are Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Therese of Lisieux. When I observe the whole of their lives, they most certainly did grandiose things for God, yet the majority of their actions were a million tiny steps that culminated in sainthood.
Saint Teresa’s famous quote states, “Do small things with great love.” Saint Therese once taught, “Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.” Our lofty ambitions matter and are important. Whether it’s eating healthier and exercising, reading more, being more patient, or pursuing new things, these are all virtuous endeavors. God says we are “temples of the Holy Spirit.” How can we not yearn to grow? Yet, I wonder if our “big” new year’s goals fail because of their “bigness”?
Saint Mother Teresa once stated, “Do something beautiful for God. Do it with your life. Do it every day. Do it in your own way. But do it.” She said to do something beautiful, not big, and do it for God. Our beautiful small steps may one day turn into something big, maybe even sainthood. Rather than start big and quit two weeks later this year, maybe a small step toward growth would be more effective.
Saint Teresa knew the power of small. “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” I may not be able to conquer the world, but I can help the person nearest me. I believe we can use this theory with all the aspirations we are called to. We can drink one glass of water per day, exercise for five minutes, or read one scripture. Our goals shouldn’t be all or nothing, but often that’s what happens when they’re too big. Pick one tiny challenge and with prayer remain faithful to it in 2022.
I once had a dream of running a marathon, but I felt defeated the minute I thought about it. How could I run for 26.2 miles? And who would want to do that anyway? God puts aspirations on our hearts and sometimes we don’t know why. Once I read Sink Reflections: Overwhelmed? Disorganized? Living in Chaos? Discover the Secrets That Have Changed the Lives of More Than Half a Million Families…, I determined to run 15 minutes a day. On hard days it was less. The goal was small, yet it did eventually lead to the marathon. It also led to hours of silence, prayer, and time with God, which was an unexpected joy that came with starting small and remaining faithful.
If you do have large aspirations for 2022, consider studying the saints for inspiration and break your God-given dreams into tiny steps. God can use faithful tiny steps because it’s hard to grow with a start big and quit shortly after lifestyle.
Friends, your aspirations for the New Year are important. I believe God placed them on your heart. The saints have much to teach us about growth through small steps. I’m considering a tiny step resolution for 2022. What are your aspirations?