If you are a human being living in this world today, chances are, you know what it’s like to be buried in a mound of to-dos and “shoulds” and commitments that loom and cast a horrible shadow on everything you do. They started out being reasonable things. Good things. But now, with a bit of procrastination, they have become your horrible pet monsters. Getting over the reluctance of starting on them is itself a seemingly insurmountable task; and getting rid of that creeping cloud of guilt that follows you wherever you go – inconceivable.
In short: it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To despair of ever being reasonably on top of things.
But there is hope.
In fact – through the Gospel, through Christ, we are called to be a people of hope!
And where do we witness to this truth in our lives more than in the little things?
In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Rom 12:2). This renewal begins with the little things.
How do we see our little commitments and responsibilities? Do they become an ever-growing list of burdens cluttering up our otherwise perfectly good lives? It’s an easy enough attitude to take, but it’s self-defeating. And in the long run, it colours our attitudes when it comes to the bigger picture – to building up a culture of life, and witnessing to true Christian joy. If we can’t accept the little daily things that come our way, it becomes much harder to be open to the greater things God wants to introduce into our lives.
Let me, then, suggest an alternative perspective: treating these daily little things not as burdens, but as gifts.
In fact – this is the most sane, most rooted-in-reality way to respond to the little things. Each one of them is a little call from God to obey His will and do so with generosity. Of course, discernment is needed to filter out the good calls from the unnecessary clutter. If there are little tasks tugging on us that are not according to God’s will, we must then let them go and not look back. But as for the little gifts – give thanks for them! They are opportunities given to you to grow you in God’s love, and to involve you in His work of redemption.
True, it’s a big shift in perspective. It will not be easy – at first. The first few steps toward it will be the hardest. But the more you receive those little things well, the more you will grow in the strength of that virtue and the easier it will become. In the words of St. Therese of Lisieux:
“The practice of virtue became sweet and natural to me; to begin with, my struggle often showed in my face, but little by little this disappeared and renunciation became easy to me even at the first moment. Jesus said this: ‘To everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance.’ For one grace that I received faithfully, he granted me a host of other[s]…” (as quoted in In The School of the Holy Spirit)
May His peace reign in your hearts.
And Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
Jacques Philippe, In the School of the Holy Spirit, (New York, NY: Scepter Publishers, Inc., 2007), p.7
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