Let Your Love Be Little!
Sometimes life gets big, too big. It feels big in our world right now. So much violence, division, confusion – storms between us and upon us. People fighting in the streets. Rain pouring and water rising. The destruction is so vast. Homes are ruined, people lose everything. Even their lives. There is big sadness. Big loss. Big fear.
It would be easy to say – that’s over there. Not my house. Not my people.
But that would be pretending not to know what we already know – we’re in it together – on the upright side of aliveness at the same time.
Regardless of how “close” you are to bad news today, there is and will be a knock at your door eventually.
At some point, life gets big in a personal way.
There will be challenges. The problems come for everyone, everywhere. There will be a wolf. We are the pigs.
We know something about those pigs from the story – they are little, and with a little cleverness, they do survive – together.
The little is the hero of the story. Though, often big steals the show.
I don’t start things because they seem too big. Like cleaning out the folders in my filing cabinet or organizing my summer pictures. I don’t finish things because they seem too big. Like making a decision about the dining room chairs we need to buy or completing the online mindfulness course I bought last year.
I don’t call friends when too much time has passed – it seems too time-consuming to share all of the big things that have happened.
I don’t get back into writing easily after the summer months with the kids – it feels like a big deal. Like it has to be really good or especially meaningful or profound. It’s kind of like sex with your partner if you’ve been in a dry spell – this better be good. What if it’s not? Or a night out with a group of women you haven’t seen in awhile – I need the perfect outfit – in style but also effortless. Do I have the clothing that can pull that off? Do I even want to go?
Sometimes I don't give money to important causes because I think the amount I can give isn't big enough.
A woman told me the other day she hasn’t started her non-profit business idea because she doesn’t think she’ll make a significant impact. Is it even worth her time? The issue feels so big, she said. I don’t know that I could make a difference.
It all seems so illogical doesn’t it? Something is better than nothing. Obviously.
But that’s not how it feels. It feels too big. It feels overwhelming.
We could all use a little more little.
In our family, school starting is one of those times. New grades. New teachers. New routines. New wake up hour and new rules around screen time.
The simplicity of the summer is gone. The bigness of the school year looms. That paperwork. The sign-up sheets. The scheduling. The idea of homework for nine (long) months.
And in the midst of feeling all of it, the night before school began a few days ago, little found a way to teach me a lesson.
I sit on the floor with my fifth grade daughters and check off the items from their school supplies list. Mid-printing, our label-maker runs out of tape. (Of course, it does.) I invite Ryan to join me on a quick Office Depot run. I’m not typically concerned about the details but I’m also not willing to begin the year with inconsistent labels – especially as I know my inconsistency is going to be in full force by the end of September, might as well be as organized as possible out of the gates. She’s delighted.
“We should do this more often,” she says to me as we’re leaving the store.
“Do what?” I ask.
“I like that idea,” I say and start the engine.
“I like when you DO something for me…”
The car is still in park and I whip my head around. I don’t mean to react so quickly but in my pre-first-day-of-school angst and the general stress I feel about being at the office supply store at 8 o’clock at night when I could have done the damn labels TWO WEEKS AGO, I am ready to lay into her if I need to defend how much I “do” for this family.
She gets all of that in a flash, as children (especially sensitive ones) can perceive – the slightest change in the size of our eyes says it all – and she clarifies, “I mean, you do a lot for me. You do a lot for ALL OF US – but I like when you do something for me like there’s no one else. Like a little outing one-on-one.”
Got it. That’s right. This is love. Paying attention. In little ways. I know what she means. A very small, intentional act is one of the most powerful and loving things we can do for each other.
So no, I’m on a mission.
Starting now, I am making little the biggest thing in the room.
And why wouldn’t it be? The best things in my life started so little.
My marriage started with a kiss. Each one of my children started as a fertilized egg no bigger than a grain of sand. My friendship with my dog Luca started when I glanced out of the car window and saw a sign that read PET ADOPTIONS HERE on the side of the road. sign My coaching practice started with the shortest conversations with mothers in the preschool parking lot. My writing life started with a journal entry – a poem, a phrase, one word.
Little is necessary. Essential. Little is how things get started and how they get finished. Even the biggest problems are addressed little by little.
It is true that little is easily lost. Sometimes totally forgotten. But when it's found - it transforms. It heals. It is everything.
How did the little pigs survive the big, bad wolf after all? With a little fire.
Find your little.
Look for it.
There is a little love, a little hope, a little faith. Everywhere.