The evening air is cool, but it feels nice as I lean on my shovel and survey the path ahead. I’ve been outside for nearly forty minutes and the end is in sight, but not as close as I would have liked. At my house, we take turns shoveling the lovely snow and I thought it was unofficially my turn to do the honors. A corner lot with long, long sidewalks make for an impromptu workout and time to reflect. The front sidewalk is easy and I simply slide the shovel along, emptying it every few feet. I turn the corner and it gets progressively more difficult. Finally, I’m looking up the path, realizing that the sidewalk is inches below, under freshly laid snow as well as snow that has been crunched underfoot for days. So I forge a path of my own, seeking to find the trace of civilization beneath nature’s blanket.
I pause again and it pops into my head.
Shoveling snow is like sin/bad habits–it is easiest to get rid of it right away, rather than wait and do it later.
I smile, wondering if any of the other evening-snow-shoveling-folks are theologizing as they scoop.
Admittedly, I like the reflection, though. The front sidewalk was easy because it had been maintained and all I needed to do was take care of the most recent snowfall. But the back sidewalk had been a bit neglected and getting it to the same state as the other required far more work. Ice needed to be chipped and compacted snow had to be disposed of. It was work that wouldn’t have been needed if it had been taken care of the first snow.
The same thought can be applied to the spiritual life, particularly in regards to cultivating good habits. What if when I noticed myself doing something I didn’t like or was bad or was not going to help me grow in my life, I would immediately correct it? Instead, it is easy to say it isn’t that big of a deal and continue until it becomes a habit. Then we realize we need to take action, but it is no longer just a tendency or inclination but an ingrained habit. So we go to work: we chip away at it and look longingly down the path to the time when this flaw can be behind us.
What if we got to work on those little things right now so that later on we wouldn’t have to pour more energy into them? What if we worked so that little things could simply stay little? Makes a bit too much sense, probably.
It would mean combating laziness with productive work and using my time well. Not planning to work on laziness later. Instead of thinking, “Yeah, I probably should do something else rather than peruse Facebook (again) or watch another movie” and then justifying said behavior anyway, I would get up and go: pray, take a walk, go for a run, read a book, clean my room, lesson plan, grade papers, etc. This goes back to the whole mentality of sacrificing the easy thing in the present to do what I actually want to do, things that bring me life and fulfillment.
Yet another goal and way to grow in my daily life discovered. Instead of waiting to tackle little problems or flaws, I should enter into the skirmish now so there doesn’t need to be a full-out war later.
From one person on the frontlines to another: let’s get to work.