“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Whoever coined that phrase must have had plenty of colossal deeds to lay at the feet of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but it’s the “small stuff” that always gets me into trouble.
I always find myself desiring to do something big for the Lord. I’d like to make a huge difference in someone’s life. Perhaps convert an atheist, prevent someone from having an abortion, or save someone from suicide (physical or spiritual). Something, anything, as long as it’s big!
When I contemplate doing these heroic feats, I am always drawn back to reality by those nagging, irritating, and irksome pebbles in my shoe: all the small stuff of life. Those annoying interruptions and ordinary errands seem perfectly timed to barge in just when I thought I would actually have a minute to be “really great.”
Now and again I invite Thing One (“woe is me”) and Thing Two (“what have I done with my life that is truly meaningful”) into my home to share a cup of coffee. These friendly afflictions are always ready and willing to point out that the clock is ticking, the days are turning into years, and I am still waiting for that big assignment I‘m sure the Lord has in store for me.
My time in purgatory will definitely result from the small stuff I neglected, the small stuff I considered not worthy of any effort, the small stuff I deemed inconsequential and frankly unimportant: those grains of sand ignored that, unattended, become an enormous beach; those little pebbles packed down, one upon another, that produce a tremendous mountain. One big spiritual mess!
St. Francis De Sales in The Devout Life enlightens us on the incredible value of small stuff:
“Be ready then… to bear great afflictions for your Lord, even to martyrdom itself; resolve to give up to Him all that you hold most precious, if He should require it of you…but so long as God’s Providence does not send you these great and heavy afflictions…take patiently the petty annoyances, the trifling discomforts, the unimportant losses which come upon all of us daily; for by means of these little matters, lovingly and freely accepted, you will give Him your whole heart, and win His… and be sure that all of these sufferings, small as they are, if accepted lovingly, are most pleasing to God’s Goodness.
“As these occasions are forever arising, they give us a fertile field for gathering in spiritual riches, if only we will use them rightly” (Chapter XXXV).
This reminds me of the words of Jesus: “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones” (Luke 16:10).
On further examination, I’d have to concede that the small stuff may in fact be pretty big, since the majority of us live out our entire lives dealing with just that. And if small stuff is so big, maybe we should sweat it… just a little.
Thank you, God, for giving us the grace not only to compete, but to win the marathon of daily living, a race of many small steps! Forever remind us, O Lord, that the way we handle our small stuff will win for us our sanctification and the victor’s crown.