Little things

by Kristin on March 15, 2013

in Culture, ideas & paradigms

This morning I found myself thinking about little things—about how often I sweep them aside, without giving them respect.

At first I thought it was ironic that I’m thinking about little things when I’m smack in the middle of a great big thing—selling a house, buying a house, and moving. But maybe it makes a lot of sense.

On one hand, little things can get lost in the whirlwind of big things, so you have to be more deliberate about them, and handle them with more care. I need to smile at my daughters and say good morning before hurriedly reminding them to pick up their clothes and make their beds, in case someone comes to see the house. I need to calm my racing mind long enough to remember friends who are in the middle of their own stressful situations, and send a text or an email to check in and say “I’m thinking about you.” These are little things, but in some ways they matter more now, than ever.

Another thing I’ve noticed, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by a big thing, is that I cling to little things because I can have some control over them. I can’t will the future buyers of our house to come see it today and make an offer, but I can wipe down the counters and sweep the stairs. I can do little things that bring little results, not obsessing over them, but simply celebrating them for what they are. Claiming these little things helps me admit my lack of control over the big things, without falling into a state of utter helplessness.

* * * * *

This morning, as I was ordering my coffee from a favorite barista, I extended an ultimate little thing: a bit of small talk. To be honest, when I asked if she had any fun plans for the weekend I mostly expected her to tell me she was working one of her two jobs. I was prepared to commiserate. Instead, as she told me what she was doing this weekend, I learned a dozen really interesting things about her (and about baby goats and bee hives and the geography of Southern Illinois). As I carried my Americano to my table, I thought, “Small talk is not necessarily so small.” And it can only grow if you give it a chance—if you take the little thing and put it out there in the world. (Yes—insert seed metaphor here.)

As I think back on the week and its swirl of big, busy stress, it’s these little things that stand out as spots of peace and rest, like stepping stones across a stream. Maybe they feel like that because God loves little things, and wants them to be gifts in this overwhelming world.

A smile directed at a stranger on a grey day.

The offering of a small word, “sorry,” to my husband.

Noticing—and pausing to admire—the bright green buds bursting on a neighbor’s tree.

Opening my hands and saying a small prayer—even one with no words.

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  • Brock Webster

    Beautiful, as always, post!! Nice touch of family, life, and community! I am sure you made the “coffee ladies” day for asking and it sounds like she made yours by “talking”.

    • Kristin T.

      Thanks, as always, Brock! It’s always good to have a concrete reminder of how much our “small” interactions can impact the lives of others.

      • Ron S

        Important reminder and well said. As one who often buzzes by the “little things” in a hurry to get to the “big things,” I can testify to the truth of what you say. Looking back, I often see the “little” became huge in the ongoing processes of life, and the “big” often became hardly memorable at all. Thanks again.

  • pastordt

    I LOVE this, Kristin. Thanks so much for this beautifully written reminder that in reality, there are non little things. . .all of it matters. Just lovely.

    • Kristin T.

      And this “little” comment on my blog? It also really matters—especially during a time when I’m feeling disconnected from my blog and my readers. Thank you for reading and letting me know that you did.

  • Dorie

    oh man, I love little things. Squeeze! How many times have i wiped the counter because that was the summary what what I could actually do?

    • Kristin T.

      SO true! I wonder if that has something to do with your love for knitting and sewing—little things that add up to something beautiful, and something you can do that allows you to see progress, little by little…