Sunday, August 09, 2015

The Bigness of Small Things

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin... - Zechariah 4.10

Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches. -Matthew 13:32

Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?  -John 6:9 

I think that there are two types of people: the folks who do not dream big enough and those who cannot see the bigness of small things.

I fall into the second category.

As long as I can remember, my desire was to "make it big," "do it all," "change the world," and "be all that I can be" in the little time I had on the planet.  My heart was a giant, impatient exclamation point- always waiting for a grand finale. 

"Seize the day!"
"Leave your mark!" 

The above words are fuel propelling us forward with impressive force. When we are young, especially, we have this hunger for making an impact that drives us towards ambitions that sensible adults tend to break down into the "impossible" category.  Motivational messages inspire us and provide us with a positive purpose. For we are indeed capable of great things.

I devoured the ideals of "thinking big" and "expecting great things" to such a degree, though, that I was often disappointed by less than extraordinary outcomes. If you're not noticed enough or it takes too long to see results, the problem of doubt arises. We get confused by what we see, because it doesn't match up with our idea of "big." That's when I would lose steam, lose inspiration, lose my way.

For me, motherhood, has been the experience that sent me into spirals of more question marks than exclamation points.  But it's okay.  To be curious, to wonder, and to not know it all, means that we are receptive to Truth when it is revealed to us. I have learned so much about being humble, grounded, and discerning. I value the circumstances that brought me understanding and realize that my unseen acts of service matter.

Constantly, I have to remind myself of the real things happening right in front of my face, because they are rarely what I expect to be awe-inspiring.  But the little details are all part of a bigger picture that just isn't finished yet- the snuggles, struggles, conversations, meetings, sacrifices, milestones, memories, efforts, prayers, late nights, early mornings, habits, schedules, successes, and failures. It all can be big things to someone.

Is it so small to write a letter of appreciation to someone?  
Is it too a tiny feat to take care of a sick child through the night? 
Is it insignificant to make time to help or meet with a friend?

If I will just start;
If I will believe that it's all important;
If I will do the small, God will do the "big."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When I Don't Want to

Today, I don't want to get up.
I don't want to wake the kids up.
I don't want to pick out their clothes, brush their hair, pour their cereal, pack their lunches, hurry them off to school.
I don't want to have responsibilities today. 

What I want to do is go on strike! Could everyone just take care of themselves today?

It's a ridiculous notion- a momentary grownup temper tantrum. My grumpy mood probably stems from feeling spread a little too thin and a little too tired...and maybe even a little too taken for granted.  Understandably, I don't just pop out of bed every morning with a chipper outlook and abundant motivation to do a mom's work.  

But I have to show up- not just because my family needs me, but also because God calls us to serve others (Matthew 20:28, 1 Peter 4:10)! He also asks us, "to work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for The Lord rather than for people (Colossians 3:23)."

This is real, honest-to-goodness life, but somewhere, if I look for it, there is something perfectly awesome- even in this secret moment of rebellion. 

So how did I rescue my morning? I took extra long to drink my coffee before waking up the kids.  I turned up music and busted out terribly desperate dance moves at the breakfast table.  I forced myself to fight the "flight" instinct and push through. 

I also remembered this great letter that Paul writes in Romans 7 that is so frustrating it's comical. Most versions translate the Greek into something like, "Why do I always do what I don't want to do and don't do what I want to do, etc."  I read through The Message for another possibly, less confusing way to say it:

"It happens so regularly that it's predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge...[Jesus Christ] acted to set things right in this life of contradicitions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different (Rom. 7:21-25 MSG)."

The good news is in the next chapter:

"...the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along...He knows us far better than we know ourselves...That's why we can be sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good (MSG Romans 8:26-28)."

So today, like Paul, I'm embracing a Wednesday filled with my fragile humanity.  I'm confronting my not-so-pretty parts and telling them that they won't win.  I can do good things, even when I don't feel like it. When I'm tired, fed up, stressed out, annoyed, or too busy, I can still make good choices.  I can still do the right thing, because I have help and I am not alone.

And guess what?  Sharing this truth with my kids in the minivan on the way to school, was a funny teaching moment.  "See, kids?  Even Mommy doesn't always want to get up and go to school.  Even Mommy doesn't feel like doing things that she should do. But we do them anyway, because they are right.  Making good choices, despite your feelings, is still our responsibility and it is possible."

Heck yes!  Humbling yourself before your family is wonderfuly liberating and more powerful than any amount of preaching from pedestals. 

Let's get to work!