"Don't sweat the small stuff," a wise woman recently spoke over me as I was receiving prayer at a small group gathering. Her simple words resonated deeply on the inside, and through them I felt the gentle exhortation of my Savior.
It's so easy to allow the trivial circumstances and common frustrations of life to rob us of our peace and joy. It's so easy to make mountains out of molehills and become so caught up in the temporal that we have no time to consider the eternal. How quickly I can fall into this trap and find myself spinning in my mind and my emotions!
I'm behind on the laundry!...
We didn't get the dishes done, and now I have to prepare dinner in a messy kitchen so we're not late for our meeting tonight!...
Benjamin had a dirty diaper blow-out, and he's a mess, along with his clothes and his the sheets on his bed! Where do I start?...
I need to get all three kids out the door in the next five minutes so we're not late for Benjamin's therapy appointment. My four-year-old doesn't want to put on her shoes, my toddler keeps pulling off his shoes, and Benjamin is crying by the door because he's anxious to go!...
My toddler is trying to eat things out of the trash can!...
My four-year-old made a complete mess of her bedroom when she was supposed to be taking a nap!...
I have ten things on my to-do list, and I can't seem to complete even one without constant interruptions!...
These are some simple previews from my day-to-day life. Your list of triggers may be completely different, but you get the idea! There are constant opportunities in this journey called life to allow the tyranny of the urgent to take center stage in our hearts and minds. Before we know it we're caught up in simply trying to manage and maintain instead of living with purpose and vision.
We have a few chalk boards in our kitchen on which I like to write down scripture verses and inspiring quotes that I can read as I go throughout the day. Last week during my early morning devotional time, a phrase ran through my mind, and I quickly jotted it down as a constant reminder:
Steward the temporal. Cherish the eternal.
Isaiah 26:3 holds a wonderful promise...
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (NLT)
When I focus my mind on Jesus, I am able to see the circumstances around me from the proper perspective. I don't have to allow the trivial things of life to control me. I want to be a good steward of the mundane realities that come with caring for a home and raising small children, but I desire to approach these tasks with a heart of worship and an eternal vision. This will only happen as I take me thoughts captive and focus them on Jesus.
I've been considering this advice as it relates to the hearts of my children as well. Small stuff can appear VERY BIG to a young child's perspective. Simple inconveniences and frustrations can be perceived as a major crisis...
I can't get my toy to turn on! (Benjamin)
The Elmo DVD hasn't started yet! (Benjamin)
My shoe is on the wrong foot, and I have to switch it! (Joelle)
My little brother got into my toy box! (Joelle)
Mommy went into the bathroom and shut the door on me! (Josiah)
I want to pull things out of the cupboards and drawers, and Mommy stopped me! (Josiah)
I'm hungry and supper isn't ready yet!!! (All three)
From my vantage point, I can easily recognize how trivial the triggers for their meltdowns really are. (Father God could say the same about me!) However, in the midst of my children lamenting over the temporal, I have an opportunity to invest in the eternal. Let me explain...
In another hour (or even five minutes) they probably won't remember the mishap or frustration that currently feels so monumental to their little hearts. What they will remember, though, is my response to them in the midst of it. They will remember if I distractedly brushed them aside so that I could complete my "supremely important" task of chopping the vegetables for dinner or sorting the dirty laundry. They will remember if I reacted to their frustration with frustration of my own. They will remember if I disregard their very real feelings because I see the situation as so very trivial.
I don't want these to be their memories.
I want them to remember Mommy coming alongside and helping them remedy the situation.
I want them to remember Mommy taking the opportunity to teach them that their emotions are not wrong, but they have a choice in how they respond.
I want them to remember Mommy praying with them and asking Jesus for His peace and His help in any given situation, teaching them to turn to the Lord in all things.
I want them to remember watching me make good choices in my responses because the actions I model to them will teach them more than my words ever could.
I want them to remember Mommy humbling herself and asking for forgiveness in the times that I let my emotions get the better of me and I don't respond well.
I want them to feel and know that Mommy is a safe place to run when they are hurting or upset so that they will keep coming as the years go by and the nature of their struggles and frustrations take on a new face.
Ultimately, I want them to see in me the One who is truly the safest place they can run, so that they will learn to make the Lord their refuge at all times.
Don't sweat the small stuff...REDEEM IT!
Steward the temporal. Cherish the eternal.
I want to faithfully steward the "small stuff" of the temporary in order to build on that with is eternal in my life and the in the lives of my precious children. And that, my friends, is BIG!