Just one word, one act, can change someone's life.
I have a friend who spent years battling an eating disorder because her dad called her ‘fat’. Another friend dropped out of school because he had a teacher who said he was stupid. Another can’t receive or give love because their mother withheld that from them as a young child. Just one sexual abuse episode can send us hurtling into dark places that we revisit time and time again into our adulthood.
Just one act, one word, can affect every area of our lives.
In recovery circles the small things matter in sobriety. One guy told me about how every morning he makes his bed. It’s not a big deal, he said. But he makes it as a commitment to his own recovery. He does it on purpose, even when he stays in a hotel. It’s like a prophetic act that strengthens his resolve to make his own life on purpose too. I can picture him smoothing the wrinkles out of his ego, and tucking in the corners of his pride. Small things matter.
Another woman told me how she changed the way she drove home after work. Just the different direction meant her evening was a sober one. Another mentioned they added 10 minutes of prayer and reflection to their life before they went to bed. It changed their sleeping habits. They even have a slogan for this — “First things first”. Small things matter.
Those of us familiar with our Bible know this. It’s God’s specialty to take insignificant smallness and turn it into brilliant strategies that change the world. Many leaders God chose seemed specialists in unqualified smallness. Almost every weapon God chose to use seems small — a small stone to fell a giant, a wooden staff to overthrow a superpower, a little lunch to feed a multitude, a small virgin girl to usher in the Saviour, a rural rabbi dying on a wooden cross to forgive the sins of the world.
Small things matter.
The letters to the Christians (in the Bible) are also full of this stuff. In the book of James it says that your whole life can be ‘shipwrecked’ by your tongue. Think about that — your whole life ruined by your words.
The apostle Paul said it was in the small things that God would shape our character. Test our faith. And grow fruit. He told us that our simple thoughts are what gives birth to the desire that leads to sin and ends in destruction. Whoa! Destruction starts with a thought. New life starts with a prayer. Small things matter.
So, as you navigate living through the temptation of ‘big’ in a shiny and show-off culture, remember that, in God’s culture, his kingdom starts small. Like a seed — the smallest of seeds. Because small things matter.
I remember walking through an inner city when my husband and I were beginning a new church. It seemed too hard. I felt insignificant and foolish even thinking about the smallness of the ‘plan’. That’s when I saw it. It was a little flower. It was growing through concrete. All the concrete around this flower had broken so that this small yet strong life could emerge, and God began to whisper to me this truth again — small things matter.
Danielle Strickland is a justice advocate, communicator and spiritual leader. For more information, visit daniellestrickland.com