Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Celebrating Smallness: Trusting God With The Outcomes

I started reading Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman earlier this week, and she brought up an idea in the first chapter that really got me to thinking. She queried her followers on social media and asked them this question.

"What kinds of things, people situations or circumstances make you feel small?"

The more common responses were things such as

- Being misunderstood
- Being ignored
- Being embarrassed
- Criticism
- Women who look like hey have it all together
- When my work and my passions are unrecognized
- When I'm first starting out

All of these responses are the result of humiliation, rejection, or a sense of lack.  We feel "belittled", or, when someone says something that offends us we say, "they made me feel about this big."

"If your influence, dreams or vision is small, you may be accused of being scared or lacking faith."

But there are other ways that small manifests negatively in our lives, as well.  Such as, when we believe that our house, our jeans, or our bank accounts are too small.  We may believe that we are "too small to have an impact, too small to be important, too small to make a difference."

I have struggled with feeling "small" for most of my life.  As a child I was plagued by a lack of self confidence.  In the second grade, I was diagnosed with a "nervous stomach", which today would probably equate to anxiety. To add to the mix, I was also a perfectionist, which overall left me feeling that nothing I did would ever be good enough, and even if it was good enough for others,  it would never be, for me.  Sadly, I've carried most of this into my adult life, as well.

But something that Emily discovered when she posed this question, was that some of her followers had a different take on what it means to feel small.  A few of them even asked, "Do you mean the good kind of small, or the bad kind of small?", and much to her delight, they replied with answers such as;

- Standing near the ocean
- Looking up at the stars
- Walking through the woods
- When everything is covered in snow

In today's world, which has been magnified by social media, it's easy to feel small and insignificant.  People naturally tend to put their best face forward, but our carefully curated feeds on Facebook and Instagram have certainly done their part in creating the facade that we're all out there living our best life!  The comparison trap is so easy to fall into, and it quickly whittles me down to that little girl wandering around the school yard who felt she would never measure up.

Emily goes on to share a quote by Eugene Peterson, from his book The Contemplative Pastor:

“The metaphors Jesus used for the life of ministry are frequently images of the single, the small and the quiet, which have effects far in excess of their appearance: salt, leaven, seed. Our culture publicizes the opposite emphasis; the big, the multitudinous, the noisy."

In fact, the whole of Jesus' life dealt in the small.  He was born in Bethlehem, a small city in Judah.  He came as a baby, small among men. And yet His smallness never determined or influenced His significance, as Emily points out, "simply because He did not hold on to His own glory". Jesus understood that His life and His work were part of something far greater than Himself. He came to establish a Kingdom. Yet even in that,  Jesus didn't make it His business to grow it.

Once we are secure in our God-breathed purpose and look beyond our earthly goals to the Kingdom, our need for significance diminishes and our perspective changes. If God is in it, we can rest assured that His work will be accomplished.  Even if our voice is small, we can know with confidence that we have reached those who needed us. I find this especially encouraging with regards to writing, and particularly in this format of blogging.

Much has changed in the decade since I first typed out my first blog post at the now defunct Homeschool Blogger. Blogging is now a business, with preferred hosting, minimum standards, and supported by a strong social media presence whose algorithms seem to on a daily basis.  In many ways, at least in my opinion, it seems to have lost its soul. That's not to say that there are not self-supporting blogs/bloggers without relevant content, because I follow a number of them that remain edifying and uplifting, even as a "business". For me, the defining factor is, is it a calling (God-breathed), or just commercialism (Self-greed)?

For me, the take on all of this is, as Emily admonishes, is to learn to "Celebrate Your Smallness". We don't have to be a big fish in the pond to make an impact, because the good news is our impact is not even up to us!  Our job, in our smallness (He is God and we, are not!), is too show up each day to whatever the task He has placed before us, and in faithfulness, to give it our best. It is He who decides how far the ripples of our efforts extend.

I love these words of encouragement from Emily;

"Instead of forgetting or running from my own smallness, what if I chose instead to look it in the face, to settle down into the place where I am, to notice what is happening around me on my ordinary days?  What if these small moments are the very portal into experiencing the kingdom of God? I believe they are, and if we miss them, we miss everything. We run right by the kingdom's doors, and no matter where we go, we have missed the door that leads us home."

Wherever life finds you today, my friend.  Whether you are a single, just starting out in a career, newly married, a young mother with small children, an empty-nester, or if you are caring for elderly parents, take heart in knowing that what you may deem as small efforts, are making a kingdom size impact.  Give God the glory, and join me celebrating our smallness, today, my friends!

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