The phrase “defining moment” is often used to describe a significant event or decision that takes place in one’s life that changes everything going forward. Life produces only a limited handful of those defining moments, and by definition we know these are big decisions. When those moments come we know we need to be at our best, mustering all of the resources of wisdom and courage our lives have available. We understand the importance of “defining moments.”
What we fail to understand is the even greater importance of the small turns in our lives. The small turns are the “little” decisions that we make on a regular basis that shift ever so slightly the compass heading of our lives. These small turns can be enriching or destructive. David made the small turn of allowing his gaze to linger on Bathsheba bathing on the next rooftop. Joseph made a small turn running from Potiphar’s wife whose advances were far from subtle. Jesus made perfectly clear, “He who is faithful in small things will be faithful in great things.”
Often, small turns are the first steps toward defining moments. The small turn may be an altered habit, perhaps the choice to read instead of watch TV. The small turn may be the small group that we decide to become a part of or the friend we begin to meet with on a regularly scheduled basis. The small turn may be beginning to journal. The small turn may be choosing a kind word instead of an angry response. The small turn may be telling the truth instead of taking the easy road of a white lie. The small turn may be a goal that we set and pursue. Or the small turn may be the decision to go to a website with pornographic material. The small turn may be to harbor resentment instead of offering forgiveness.
Life certainly is comprised of “defining moments,” but more often those defining moments are preceded by small turns whose importance can only be seen in retrospect. Small turns lead to unalterable paths.
This day or this week or this month you and I will be poised at the bend of a small turn. The decision we make at the turn, while looking small at the present, may make all the difference in the long run. Small turns make a huge difference!
What small turn might you make today in the right direction?