By Kristen Banks
I’ve recently started going back to the gym after 15-some-odd years of being lazy where fitness is concerned. I didn’t become lackadaisical about working out because it wasn’t important to me. Quite the contrary, it rather bothers me to think that I would probably pass out if I tried to sprint any distance whatsoever, even just across the room to get my Hot Pocket out of the microwave.
In fact, I probably would have tried to stay in better shape, or least addressed this issue a little sooner, if I felt like I had any time to spare on it.
Spare time is like money, no matter how much you have you always feel like you could use a little more. And some of us feel like we are dangerously close to being in the red with our time as it is. But what do you do when you’re walking such a tight rope that you haven’t got a moment left to spare? How do you find time to give proper attention to those things that are the most important to you?
When I first started quilting, I was so excited to learn as many new techniques as I possibly could. I wanted to spend every waking minute quilting, but my life was so busy already that I found it harder and harder to find the time to do the thing I loved most. And gradually I spent less and less time doing it.
At one point I even stopped sewing altogether because it seemed pointless to try to continue on with something that I couldn’t really devote the proper amount of time and effort to. But I found that not having that thing in my life that I enjoyed most was making me feel a little sad and depressed. And the funny thing was, even after cutting such a big time consuming thing like my favorite hobby out of my life, I still wasn’t realizing any extra time.
When I realized I was unhappy, I pondered on this for a while. I wanted to make a change, but I didn’t know how. Then I started thinking back on one of the times in my life that I was the busiest, the time when I was in college. I was so busy back then with school and social activities that I barely had time to sleep. I did manage to make pretty good grades in school, and I wondered how I ever found the time to study.
Then I remembered that I used to discipline myself to look over my subjects at least once a day. Even if it was just to read a paragraph or two about the topic I was studying. Some days I had an hour or two to really focus, but on other days the time allotted seemed so small and insignificant that I wondered why I even bothered. Surprisingly though, this plan turned out pretty successful for me because the repetition kept the subject fresh on my mind and by the time the dreaded test came around I was usually shocked at how much knowledge I had retained and how easily the answers came to me.
I got the bright idea that maybe this plan would work for my quilting as well. So, I started trying to accomplish a single thing a day on at least one of my many quilting projects. Whether it was cutting out a few pieces, sewing one block together, or just choosing between navy blue or chocolate brown for the color of my binding I tried to carve out at least ten minutes a day to perform at least one small task.
I know you’re thinking, ‘Why even bother?’ because It would take years to finish any project at that pace! But it worked! Even though I was only making baby steps toward my goal, I was still moving in the right direction. And I didn’t have to cringe anymore as I walked by my sewing table day by day and saw the same pile of fabric sitting there in the exact same place that it had been for the last six months.
Now that lump was beginning to change and move ever so slightly day by day. I started feeling less discouraged too. And I even started looking for more snippets of time throughout the day when I could do one, or maybe even two more things to my quilt. Before you know it I was finishing things and I loved sewing again. Now I look forward to my quilting time no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it may be.
I found that I can apply this principal in other areas of my life as well. I always kind of envied those people who said they studied the bible or prayed for several hours a day. And I know it may sound bad, but due to my many responsibilities I didn’t feel like I was able to do that. So it made me feel sad and depressed. It made me wonder if I really loved the Lord enough or if I could ever be a dedicated Christian if I didn’t spend hours a day reading my bible or in prayer.
So, I started small and I said ‘Lord, I’m sorry I don’t spend more time with you. Most days I feel overwhelmed and like there’s never enough time to do all of the things I need to do. I want more of you in my life, but I also know it’s important to work, pay my bills, and to take good care of the things you gave me. Please help me to be responsible, and still have the time I need to spend with you.’ And then I made it a point every day to acknowledge Him, even if it was only in some small way.
Some days it may be something as simple as me just praying of morning and telling Him, ‘Thank you Lord for letting me wake up today.’ Or, it might be me quickly grabbing the devotional book that I keep on the nightstand beside my bed and reading that days passage and scripture. It takes less than five minutes to do, but it tends to stick with me the rest of the day as I reflect on His goodness in what I read. And on other day’s I might even have time to read a couple of chapters from my bible before I go to bed.
I’ve also found that instead of letting my mind worry about everything that went wrong or didn’t get done that day as I drift off to a restless sleep, it helps to tell Jesus about it instead. It feels good to put those concerns in his hands for a few hours, knowing that he’s working on them, and I usually sleep better that way. And all of a sudden I find myself feeling less stressed and more aware of God ALL of the time, not just in my prayer or bible times.
Now I’m always conscious of the fact that He’s with me working and moving in my life everyday whether I’ve spent five hours or five minutes formally acknowledging him or not. I feel like these simple small acts have grown my faith exponentially, and now I constantly look for ways to include Him in everything that I do. It’s changed my life for the better, and I never could have imagined the difference one small prayer could make.
So never despise your small beginnings. Whether it’s one small stitch or one whispered prayer you never know what difference that one little step in the right direction might make.