From small beginnings come grand results: consider the acorn and the oak.
Recently we saw a great blog post by Naomi Smith. We are happy to pass it along to you, with her permission, as a modern-day elaboration of something Lydia Sigourney wrote in an earlier time:
I hear from the lips of some of the young and sprightly of my sex, the inquiry … “What share can we possibly have in the destinies of our country?” The same share that the rill has in the rivulet, and the rivulet in the sea. Should every little shaded streamlet tarry at its fountain-head, where would be the river, dispensing fertility–the ocean, bearing commerce and wealth upon its never-resting tide? Woman possesses an agency which the ancient republic never discovered. The young fountains of the mind are given in charge to her. She can tinge them with sweetness or bitterness, ere they have chosen the channels where to flow, or learned to murmur their story to the time-worn pebbles, page 251.
Here’s Naomi’s post.
In the movie, Men in Black, the whole tension of the plot is about who will find the “universe.” There are aliens desperately leaving planet earth because they think the universe is going to be turned over to the hands of evil rulers. On his deathbed in the morgue, the steward of the universe said, gasping for air, “The universe is in Orion’s belt.” Turns out he was talking about a cat named Orion who had a charm on his collar which was the universe. But Will Smith, the main hero, didn’t understand what his final words meant. He was looking for something big, something expansive, something vast and comprehensive. He was rebuked by another alien, “Why do you humans always think that important things have to be big?”
Sometimes, we can’t see what we are looking for because our expectation is wrong.
I can so relate to Will Smith’s mistake. When I became a Christian, I was told that I was a world-changer. I believed it and realized that my purpose and destiny mattered for the sake of history and the planet. I imagined doing something BIG, something that would make a huge splash in the world for Christ, something that would get much recognition for how much good it added to the world. I was willing to do whatever it took: preach open air on campus, be radical, travel to different nations … big stuff.
But then I found myself on Mars (my description of the terrain of momhood). Motherhood threw me for a loop. On Mars everything is tiny. Tiny shoes. Tiny hands. Tiny hats. Tiny words like, “Goo.”
Some people find this small world delightful. But the tiny world of Mars really frustrated me most of the time. It seemed that my life was reduced to tiny actions: a smile when our son looked my way, a word (like “no” when he was about to go to a dangerous place), a diaper here, a bottle there. Tiny actions filled up my days and my nights and quite honestly I found it disheartening and disillusioning. It felt oh so small and insignificant as compared with the big, vast impact I thought I was called to make. Consequently I had a crisis of significance.
See, no one had ever explained to me the value system of Mars. The value system of Mars differs from the way of earth. The way of earth says that one has to accomplish something big, have a huge title or lots of power and money to really have an impact. The way of Mars is in the details. On Mars one impacts the world through thousands of tiny, seemingly insignificant details done in love. It’s by choosing to lay down one’s life that one has an impact on the world.
Hmm. Mars sounds a lot like the way of the Kingdom. Wink wink, nod nod.
So if I was slowly learning the way of the Kingdom (aka Mars), then why was my mind insisting that what I was doing was so insignificant?
I’d been looking for significance outside these small actions.
That’s when I realized I’d been had!! Whoever said those little acts of love were insignificant? In fact, the most beautiful works of art are a compilation of small brush strokes or stitches. There is beauty in the compilation of many, small, intentional contributions to a project. The glory of something many times is in the details. So who ever said that there was no glory in the tiny things?
I’d been duped. I’d been looking for significance outside these small actions. Meanwhile it was through the tiny actions, the tiny exchanges, the tiny moments of communicating love in a thousand ways that I had the opportunity to create my magnum opus.
And I almost missed it entirely. I almost missed a huge chunk of my calling. I’d almost found a flight off Mars and gone on to do the BIG things. For the first part of Judah’s life, I fought for position and title in the “important” meetings, missing the value of the simple exchanges with him, wanting to hire them out. Then I realized that God many times shows up in a manger. I almost forsook this great opportunity to weave a breathtaking tapestry because I couldn’t see the glory in the small, simple things.
I resolved to stick it out, at least another day, at least another week, maybe another month. Stick it out and let the wisdom of Mars dawn on me slowly as I slowed down enough to see the value of the tiny.
And here I am: still on Mars, still putting my hand to the simple and the mundane, still at times trying to find significance, still reminding myself daily that the small things matter, still dying to myself daily, still endeavoring to love well. And meanwhile I’m finding the treasures of God’s Kingdom in the tiny ways of Mars.
- Naomi Smith
Naomi Smith lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband, Austin, and their 15-month-old, Judah. Together Naomi and Austin work as campus ministers with Called to Greatness on the Wichita State University campus. Her passion is to see women thrive in their God-given callings. For fun she likes to eat chocolate, preferably with nuts, and have spontaneous dance parties in her living room.