Friday, May 31, 2013

The Small Things

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
These wise words were spoken by Mother Teresa. She is regarded by many as the embodiment of humble service and loving care. She was a “missionary mom” to many of India’s hurting and desolate people, and she had keen insight into the human heart. I think this quote captures perfectly the longing that we all have to do something truly great.
Didn’t we come on the mission field to do something great? Something big? Something truly grand for God? I arrived here with the goal of saving the world. But instead, I am so busy with the mundane and small things that there doesn’t seem to be time left over for saving anybody.
The small things like tying shoes, wiping noses, helping with homework, and packing lunches. The worrying, the guiding, the helping…the mothering. These small mothering things fill my days as I struggle to raise a girl into a woman and a boy into a man. I want to do this whole mom thing right, but so often the small things are where it all goes wrong. I yell, I grow impatient, I demand, and then I demand more. These little things add up and up and up. I must confess, there are days that I discourage my children. I put a weight on them that they were never meant to bear.
Aren't the small things the make or break things?
When I do the small mothering things with love, a difference is made. A smile, a will to try again, a hope, and a dream for the future. Small things like hugging, and encouraging, and cheering on. Small things like reading an extra chapter, giving another hug, holding my tongue and just listening without comment or suggestion. Yes, without comment or suggestion.
Why are these small things the hardest things for me as a mother? Why do little bits of impatience, and exhaustion, and frustration trip me up? Because the job never stops, even for a second. The stakes are high because people are being formed. I bend to a breaking point when learning a language, navigating a foreign system, and my own knee-deep-in-ministry exhaustion gets layered on top of all the small stuff.
But what if I remembered that I have a Savior who is found in the small things? Who cares about them, and who wants me to do them well? What if I really could do them with love, with Him?
What if I fully embraced my mission of raising this girl and this boy? What if I could become the embodiment of humble service and loving care to my children and to my husband? What if something that they see in me makes their hearts long to know God run after Him? What if I could understand the role that I play makes all the difference, and the role that I play is played best in the small moments...the cooking, the playing trains, the song before bedtime?
May I know, and may you, that doing small things, with love, is truly great.
What about you? Do you see the small things as insignificant? What discourages you in the day to day mothering?


  1. i don't see the small things as insignificant - but i am also learning that i make a much bigger deal of them than i need to... for it is in the small things (that i do well or that i horribly screw up) that God is still working in, making and forming me - and He knew that when He placed these children in this family.

    i'm not going to answer the question you asked... instead, i'm finding that what encourages me most in day to day mothering is discovering that God works in and through all the yuck and all the beautiful and that i CAN trust Him to do good with these hearts He's loaned me, even when I royally don't, even when i'm totally at a loss, even when i've got no clue what's really going on on the surface much less deep within... and that the vision He has of and for my children goes far beyond my wildest imaginations.

  2. This reminded me of something I just read in the Daily Strength for Daily Needs, that I enjoy so much:
    Since trifles make the sum of human things,
    And half our misery from our foibles springs;
    Since life's best joys consist in peace and ease,
    And though but few can serve, yet all can please;
    Oh, let the ungentle spirit learn from hence,
    A small unkindness is a great offence.