About a week and a half ago I had surgery on my nose. But not in the way you might think. I didn’t have a nose job, although the jokes were flowing in our house about it. I had a deviated septum corrected and a turbinate reduction. Fun times. My friends showed up, brought food and ice cream and coffee. And a book. I didn’t even open it until today, which was timely because I have been thinking a lot about the very topic of the book. Making the “small” moments count.
This isn’t a book review. I’m still on the first chapter. And my friend who loaned this book might be waiting for a while to get it back. Because I had to stop after chapter 1 just to think it all through. To process. So yea, let’s talk about it.
My house is loud right now. We’ve had temps go from 80 to 30 overnight. Tornados that have wreaked havoc on our city. They took lives and homes and possessions. And they aren’t unusual here. Two days after Christmas, it was heartbreaking to hear the stories and see the images on the news. It took me back to my childhood growing up in Tennessee. To one Thanksgiving that brought deadly storms to our town. I heard the tornado coming down our street. “The train” sound was near. It took out neighbors and entire streets of homes. Entire families. My dad and I went and drove around once it passed. The images of what I saw that day have stayed with me as I’ve gotten older. Some things you just don’t forget. The “big” things.
I think it’s easy to live life with our focus on the big. I mean, I live in Texas after all, where everything is said to be bigger. Big homes. Big jobs. Big promotions. Big influence. Big goals. Big wardrobes. Big families. Big vacations. We focus on all the big stuff assuming it’s what will make us happy or content or keep our life fire burning. But what about the seemingly small stuff? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And then I opened this book, and Emily P. Freeman was talking to me.
“I recognized within myself a deep desire to explain and defend my ideas, to be seen and heard for who I was, to grow my influence without selling my soul, and also to be able to somehow see a bigger picture of what it all meant. I was feeling the pain of smallness and I didn’t like it. The lights were dim in my personal city and I wanted them to shine more brightly so I could find the answers I thought I needed. It was in the midst of this struggle that a trusted mentor encouraged me with these strange words: “Celebrate your smallness.” I wanted to see the big picture of my life and instead he told me to be small-not only to be small, but also to celebrate it.”
Ouch. I spend so much time and energy and thought in figuring out how to be bigger. How to make my life count. How to be a better mom and a better friend and have a wider sphere of influence in this world. How to be a better trainer, better blogger, better runner. But what about the small stuff, that really isn’t all that small? What about all the fillers? The time in-between the bigger life stuff. That’s what makes up most of our time anyway. So how do I view that stuff? If I view it as small and insignificant, aren’t I missing most of the every day moments that make up my life? Maybe so. And I don’t like that at all.
“Creation invites a vastly different image to this word small. Driving towards the mountains, standing on the beach, sitting beneath the sky on a moonless night I feel small, but I like it this way. It’s comforting, like I’m not in control and I wouldn’t want to be. In these places, I’m small enough to breathe in deeply, small enough to see what’s happening, and small enough to let go, to be loved, to remember the with-ness of Christ. This kind of small carries wonder, gratitude, and peace. This kind of small leads to worship.”d
With all the talk about chasing big dreams, which I fully believe we should do, I don’t want to lose the blessing in the smallness. That the small isn’t always bad. We live in a fast paced, do it yourself and do it quick then move on, sort of world. We’re constantly driven towards success and climbing and doing something bigger and better than the person next to us. But I guess what I want to know is what would happen if we slowed down? What would happen if I saw Jesus in my dishes and never-ending piles of laundry and socks that don’t match(how ALL THE SOCKS get mixed up and don’t have match after they enter the washing machine door is beyond me. It’s a mystery I will never be able to explain).
What if I saw my sock folding as worship and my car pool running as a simple act of gratitude for the life I have? For my place today. Because at this moment, there is nothing inherently “big” about my place in this day. I’m sitting on my couch, next to Lila who is watching Dora on my phone. I’m still sweaty from my workout, and may not shower until after I teach boot camp tonight. There is a fire in the fireplace and a cute 7-year-old in nothing but his undies playing Star Wars battlefront with no care in the world except what game he’ll buy at Gamestop with his gift card.
I need to let the dog out but it’s raining and cold, so I’m putting it off. I need to get the kids out of the house so we don’t all go insane. We’ll probably go to Costco. These are my “small’s.” But they aren’t small if you really think about them. They are my people. My kids. My home. My responsibilities. Who cares if I smell or if all my kids are buried in front of a screen. It’s my place. And they are my focus today. And there is nothing small about that.
Sure, the laundry doesn’t really hold any eternal value, and it’s easy to think you are making zero impact on the world because you aren’t on the Today show or writing a best-selling book. It’s cool, neither am I. If you are in your respectful place today, choosing joy, and making your daily tasks, as mundane as they may seem to you, an act of worship to the very one who made you and put you in that place, then you are successful. You are valuable. You are worthy. You are special and unique and God made you totally and completely on purpose to be right where you are today. So let’s celebrate that shall we?
Maybe it’s just me, but seeing value in the day-to-day is hard. Especially if your day-to-day is hard. Maybe you have an ill child or a job loss or a diagnosis or a broken marriage and you just can’t seem to bear the weight. Maybe the last thing you want to do or think about is how to see the blessings through the fire. But I know something. I know that God is a God who can make beauty from ashes and a whole lot of somethings out of a whole lot of nothing. I know he can refine and mold and shape and grow even the ugliest of souls. And most days, mine can look pretty un-loveable. But not to the one who made it. He sees us as lovely and love able and He is insanely and madly in love with us. Just as we are. In our boring and seemingly small places, He has the power to make them count. And He cares about us and our moments and our places, and He says they are important and that they hold value and worth. So today, let’s trust Him. And let’s make all our moments count.
“It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things For God-but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people-and this is not learned in five minutes.” ~Oswald Chambers