Life in the Small Things

Small Things Quote

When I was a little girl, I loved to collect little, itty-bitty things. Charming little figurines and porcelain dolls, books and notepads, rocks and seashells, necklaces and barrettes, and colored pens and pencils (to name a few).

Each new and exciting little object (found in nature or purchased with my hard-earned allowance) would be assigned a place of honor on my dresser or bookshelf— often atop a doily crocheted by my Grandma Bea.

My tiny treasures.

They brought me so much joy.

I’ve recently started remembering all of my dear little childhood collections because my daughter, Lucy, has inherited a similar affinity for all things miniature and novel and pretty.

Lucy discovers—and immediately finds a fitting place in her bedroom for—any new-found treasure, right there alongside her previously-discovered ones, always adding to her little collections.

I love watching her during her process of discovery—the dogged search, the moment of wonder, the fierce and immediate admiration and attachment.

I love to watch how her little mind works as she carefully ponders where to display or store these treasures. My little curator: how lovingly and thoughtfully she treats them all.

Watching my daughter brings back so many memories of happy times, of care-free days, losing myself for hours in the joy of similar small things.

As I let my mind wander…remember…I come full-circle back to the present.  A question begins to form…a realization unraveling.

Where along the way had my focus shifted from daily admiring and savoring the small things—the intricate, wonder-filled details—to mostly gazing (longingly) in the direction of the sweeping, grandiose “big things” in life?  When had I traded in my macro lens for a wide-angle view, panning out and skimming past all the small things?

For years, I’d been spending so much time working towards the so-called “big things”—you know, the announcement-worthy events that are usually cause for celebration: that promotion at work, launching a cool new product, finishing a master’s degree, getting an article published—that I hadn’t stopped as often as I should have to enjoy or celebrate the small things.

Those little moments in life that cause you to spontaneously smile when you remember them.

Those acts of love and kindness that make you tear up with joy and thankfulness.

Those encounters that underscore our natural tendency to believe that life is precious and sacred.

Small Things Collage

Of course, it’s easy to savor the small things when they come gift-wrapped in pretty packages: counting the petals on a daisy, watching a caterpillar climb a tree, a random “I miss you” phone call from a friend, learning to “pump” on a swing…

What’s harder is not becoming weighed down by the not-so-pretty small things in life: piles of laundry never shrinking, children who refuse to nap, an apparent snub by an acquaintance, a muddy entryway that won’t stay clean…

In the same way it was easy for me to get lost in the drive to achieve or earn or produce or perform, it’s easy for me to get discouraged by the unending chores, the seemingly mundane string of days, and uncooperative kiddos.

The question is: How do you savor the small things without “sweating” the small stuff?

There’s no easy answer to that question, of course. I know for my own hard-headed self, it’s a daily “re-set and try again” type of activity that will never be easy. I’m daily striving, stuttering, failing, picking myself back up, and starting again.

Despite my shortcomings, I want to share a couple Bible verses that have recently helped me find more peace within my current Life in the Small Things…

“Who dares despise the day of small things?” – Zechariah 4:10

I read this verse recently as part of a daily devotional for Moms. It really resonated with me, because I find myself griping so often about the small things I don’t like doing. When I become weighed down by that not-so-pretty small stuff, I try to remember that there’s meaning in even the most mundane and seemingly unimportant tasks. As annoying and never-ending as household chores can seem, for instance, trying to view them as acts of love and kindness for the ones we love the most can help ease some of the burden.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” – Colossians 3:23

This verse has comforted me in so many different circumstances. In that sucky job. Or with the sucky boss. The not-so-glamorous projects and tasks and obligations. Whether you’re unloading the dishwasher, making lunch for your kids, updating a project plan, or dialing in to yet another conference call, the important thing is you’re doing what you feel called to do (for now—it might not always be this way). You are providing for your family. Or nurturing your family. Helping others. Helping your team. Whichever. There is meaning and purpose and lessons to be learned in all of that, even when it feels repetitive or unimportant or unnecessary.

The season of life I find myself in now has re-ignited my own process of discovery in finding joy in the small things…and I feel so blessed to be learning this lesson I so desperately needed.

In the past few months, I have doggedly searched for joy in the small moments—the shiny and the shabby ones—and I’ve often been surprised by the moments of wonder, admiration, and attachment that I uncover.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and ye shall find…” – Matthew 7:7

This macro view of life I’ve been gifted has brought the little things—the blessings, now closer and larger—back into focus.

And, of course, time with my two most precious little treasures is the best part of this Life in the Small Things.

They bring me so much joy.

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Written by Ember

Ember

Wife. Mother of 2 girls. Bookworm. Coffee addict. Lover of shoes. Killer of most plants. I write for a living, but not the glamorous kind (think: instruction manuals, not New Yorker essays).

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