I live an ordinary life. I spend much of my time doing rather mundane tasks that do not bring recognition or notoriety: laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, cooking meals, driving carpools, and other similarly routine things.
There are many nights when I look around at the disarray that surrounds me and wonder if I have accomplished anything at all.
I am learning, however, that sometimes the most important accomplishments do not leave visible evidence behind. They are often small things that are simply part of our daily lives.
Marjorie Pay Hinckley, in her book, Small and Simple Things, which she wrote in the twilight of her life, says:
I couldn’t possibly have understood this when I was young like I do now. When we look back on decades of life, we see that the seemingly insignificant things we do over and over actually weave the pattern of our lives. And if those small and simple things are good, we will end up having lived a fulfilling life.
Is it possible that the ordinary, mundane things that we do every day will, in the end, determine whether we have a fulfilling life?
When I look back at my 38 years, I distinctly remember the big decisions that left a lasting impression on my life: where to go to college, who to marry, where to live after we finished school, whether or not I was going to continue in the faith that I was taught in my childhood.
I do not, however, remember most of the small, daily decisions that led up to those big ones. But one thing is clear: the impact of those little decisions was huge.
If I had not studied hard in high school, sometimes sacrificing things that seemed more exciting, the college that I attended would not have been an option. If I had chosen a different lifestyle in my teen and young adult years, I probably would not have run in the same circles as the man who would become my husband. If I had not paid attention in church during my youth, I would not have learned to turn to God when I was confused. That may have led to a much different outcome when my faith was dim because of questions that I had surrounding religion. If I had made different decisions surrounding my faith, not only would that have changed the direction of my life, but it would have also altered my children’s lives in a big way – because my husband and I together shape the faith of our children.
Deiter F. Uctdorf, an experienced pilot, put it this way:
Suppose you were to take off from an airport at the equator, intending to circumnavigate the globe, but your course was off by just one degree. By the time you returned to the same longitude, how far off course would you be? A few miles? A hundred miles? The answer might surprise you. An error of only one degree would put you almost 500 miles (800 km) off course, or one hour of flight for a jet.
If a few degrees makes such a huge difference in the final destination of an aircraft, how much impact do small, seemingly insignificant, daily decisions have on the course of our lives?
The answer is simple. They chart the course. And by charting the course, they also determine the destination.
Never discount the importance of small, ordinary decisions. Ordinary is where most of life is lived. Ordinary is powerful.
This post is part of a 31-day series about small and simple things. You can see the rest of the series here.