Small—this has been the word on repeat in my brain this past month.
My family and I are currently on a road trip to both celebrate my recent book’s release, and to meet readers over a glass and conversation. We’re inching our way upwards and down parts of the U.S., meeting readers and enjoying life with often-distant friends, and I gotta tell you: over and over again I’m hearing what seems to be on everybody’s minds. Smallness.
From the Christian author to the stay-at-home dad to the diplomat’s spouse to the insurance agent, people have whispered to me lately that they’re craving, yearning, longing for more small in their life, small in their relationships, small in their pursuit of faith.
Yet the messages they’re hearing right now are shouting the opposite—that if we are to be people of faith, we need to think big.
I think this is party reactive to an ever-pervasive trend, particularly on the Internet, to glorify Doing Big Things For God. We might use our mouths to say such sentences as, “Even the mom changing diapers is changing lives for Jesus,” but when it comes from the podium in front of a well-coiffed woman standing before thousands in awe of her wit and wisdom, it’s not the easiest to believe.
It’s the big-time charity causes and the conversations with celebrities that get all the likes on Facebook. Even the blog posts about being content where you are still ultimately celebrate the writer who wrote them, and not the freedom behind the message to roll up your sleeves and be at peace with your day’s task of mowing the grass beneath your feet.
And so, we crave actual smallness—not just the idea of living everyday, small lives as though they mattered, but to actually swallow, digest, and live out that worldview as though it were true.
If we were to truly believe that the pursuit of small is not only an okay thing, but a wise approach to life that echoes Jesus’ lifestyle, we probably wouldn’t be so quick to elevate the Christian speaker as though they were given superpowers, or to feel ridiculous when we feel content in our neck of the woods, making soup and bringing it to our neighbor.
There’s something in our soul that longs for the freedom to be okay with not pursuing more, doing more, being more. (tweet this)
To rest with the thought that God’s plan for me might, just might, involve me doing the next thing in front of me, day after day, for years to come.
I admit internal conflict between small and big.
I thrive on change, and my long-term goal to raise a family unconventionally reflect that—traveling around the world isn’t small on the surface. And so my knee-jerk reaction to all this small talk is guilt for adding to the echo chamber on social media, shouting at people to “Think bigger! Be braver! Go farther!,” quickly followed by guilt for being judgmental towards that podium that rallies thousands to Do Big Things. How can I both crave small and sometimes do big, and not be a big ol’ hypocrite?
When I shared my internal struggle, my husband Kyle offered these wise words: actions could be big or small, but smallness is always a frame of mind, a way of thinking. We could pursue a small life, and then God could hand us something big—or we could pursue a small life, and God could have us live out that life that, well, looks small. The real conflict is wanting big things and not getting them. Believing fame is a necessary ingredient for a life with purpose…that’s where we’ll be disappointed in bigness.
I’m guessing it’s okay to wrestle with both big and small.
After all, Jesus said to go into all the world, yet he himself never walked very far on earth. Small and big can look like a lot of things, depending on who we are. This is when I remember that we humans aren’t all one way, that we can be beautifully bereft with contradictions and dichotomies, and still kinda make sense at the end of the day.
It’s very intentional that this trip of ours has smelled of grassroots—since my book is about living slowly, and since there’s a whole section dedicated to the importance of travel (especially when your kids are young), we thought we’d embody the message quite literally and, well, travel as a family all over and say hi to readers, ten or twenty at a time. This doesn’t make me a better person than the author with an auditorium, but there is something missed, I think, when we value a room crammed with fans more than a table between a few new friends.
I know it’s been teaching me something, at the very least—that there is beauty in everyday, small pursuits, and that most of our days are made up of the sum of them. Thinking small, being small, yet not apologizing for any big dreams we’ve been given… this is the stuff of life.