My Husband, once told me a story of a river.
It made such an impact on me, and it’s something I have reflected on frequently and often. And changed and morphed it into something I hold in my heart that is one of my guiding principles in life.
I decided this was a good time and place to share it with you all.
The story goes as follows..
Imagine our brain is essentially the same texture as earth. Imagine our choices as a small trickle of water. Choices we make all the time have a big, deep, flowing powerful river of water. Things like the place we choose to park, are small almost insignificant streams with little impact on the surface. Bigger choices, like things we choose that require sacrifice, like going to the gym, choosing to eat the cookies or not, deciding to get up early or sleep in, those are rivers that are established with the ‘easy’ choice are big and raging.
For the majority of the time, the majority of us, are going to choose the ‘easy’ route. That river grows bigger, deeper, wider, more powerful with each time we give up. Each time we fail. Each time we decide that we aren’t ready to make a change. Each time we let that choice, that stream, flow into the river of easy, we make that pattern harder to overcome. We let that river get a little bit deeper, a little bit stronger.
So when the time comes to change, we have a problem. The water will flow into the river automatically. How can we change the pattern of where that water flows?
We have to build a dam, a diversion. We have to stand out in the middle of the biggest river, and fight against the flow of water, to start pushing the stream into a new area. It starts with the smallest trickle. It grows deeper each time we let the water flow down it. And once we have established a new flow, it is tiny and insignificant to the power of the river of choices we have made over and over again. We have to catch it early, and guide it down carefully, to the new river, while holding back the power of years of a different river.
That is why it feels impossible sometimes. That is why when we make the choice to say no to the cake, or we make the choice to get up early and do the workout, or we hit that A+ day despite lots of reasons we ‘can’t’, that is why it is so frustrating when it’s no easier the next day. Or why it is so hard to keep choosing the hard choice, when you aren’t making progress.
Because it IS HARD. It’s hard to direct that water somewhere new. It starts as the smallest, tiniest, most insignificant dent in the ground, but it GROWS. It grows where you tell it to grow. And consistency matters more than anything. Each time you make the choice, it decides which river gets the water.
You stand in that river, with your feet in slick, slimy rock. With the cold water pushing against your midsection. You stand out there in the morning, and the night. When it rains, when it is snowing. You are making that new path. Each time you push with all your strength to move that water to the bank. To push it down that little stream you built with your short nails and your small hands, each time the water makes its path, but only because you forced it.
The water will NEVER accidentally go down the new path. It will never make the ‘easy’ choice given its natural pull. It will always be torn. Until the new path, is bigger than the old path. And even then, you will have to stand alert.
So I urge you, next time there is a choice that is hard. Next time your alarm clock goes off, and you want to hit that snooze button, next time you can sprint instead of walk, next time you can eat that cookie, or not, think about the river you are in. Think about the river you want. Think about how small the new river is when things feel overwhelming. Think about how many times you’ve chosen the powerful river. Think about why you need to choose this new path. Think about who you are making this new path for. Think about how big that new river needs to be in order for things to feel less like a struggle.
I pray that you stand in that river, with the force of tons of water pushing against you, and you make the choice to keep pushing. Every day. Even when it feels impossible. Even when you can’t keep your head above the water.
Because new rivers are not forged by accident.
Let’s make these choices together. I am making a new river too.