I’ve found this word to be a theme in my life recently.
It’s easy to feel small when faced with a big, complicated and chaotic world. And when I’m lying in bed at night, tired and wondering what tomorrow will bring, this word seems to describe my days and pervade my thoughts.
I feel small at work. I feel like I mess up a lot and get things confused and I disappoint my boss more than I care to admit.
I feel small living in a big city. Walking around downtown, for me, is like walking through a sea of faces, each unique, each with their own story, each reminding me how absolutely huge and diverse this world is. It’s awe-inspiring. It’s beautiful. But it’s also easy to feel lost.
I feel small in my story sometimes. I see people accomplishing big things, dreaming big dreams and navigating their twenties with huge pay checks and huge hearts and I get a little down on myself for coming home to my Netflix every once in a while.
But what I’m learning is – small is mighty.
It’s the small moments that make up the big moments, the small steps that complete the whole journey. I believe that what feels small to us isn’t actually small at all.
Today, I was taught this lesson once again.
By a man named Roy.
I was feeling slightly weary and unawares in the nut aisle at the grocery store when we met. I was looking for some almonds when an elderly gentleman, white-haired and softly wrinkled around his eyes, caught my attention.
I walked over to where he was looking at some peanuts.
“Can you tell me the difference between these two bins?” he said as he motioned to two identical-looking peanut varieties.
“Hmmm…it looks like these are blanched, and these are salted,” I said. And I smiled up at him.
“Oh, thank you. I can’t have sugar, but I can have these,” he said, scooping up the salty ones.
“No problem,” I returned.
He saw me meander back to the almonds and, after a few moments, he approached me again. He told me that he likes making his pancakes with almond flour. How the almond meal adds a nice crunch, a nice flavor. He spoke with the combined confidence and humility of a well-seasoned chef, even though his uniform was a sweater and loafers.
“Oh yeah, that’s delicious! I’ve tried almond meal pancakes,” I replied.
“You share my view, then,” he said.
He grinned at me. And then he paused.
This stranger that I had met only moments ago over a few peanuts looked at me and he turned what could have been a small moment into a big moment for me.
“You,” he said. He touched my shoulder with a gentleness like family.
“You have a beautiful personality.”
No joke you guys – I started tearing up in the grocery store.
“Thank you,” I said, a little shakily, visibly moved. “It’s not everyday that someone says that.”
“Well, in all the year’s I’ve lived, I can tell when someone has a beauty that comes from the inside.”
“It is so encouraging to hear that from another person,” I stammered as he looked at me with deep, knowing eyes.
“And I know Jesus. And I think you do too,” he said to me.
“I do!” I said, never so happy or so unhindered in uttering that claim.
“We can tell, can’t we?” he said. “We are the ones looking up, when everyone else is looking down. I can see it in you. Your stature, your openness.”
And my heart swelled so much that I swear you’d have been able to see it if you were there. It went from feeling small to feeling BIG in a split second. Like I was truly being seen. Like I wasn’t lost in the crowd. It was like that moment in How The Grinch Stole Christmas when the Grinch’s heart booms from its former shriveled self into a whole, new, beating heart.
Small, but mighty.
I looked up at the swirl of people in the store around us, choosing cereals and vitamins and produce. Children bouncing in carts and parents shushing and rocking, navigating those big awkward carts toward the checkout lines.
I felt in that small moment, as I have in many other small moments, that God was there.
It’s God that makes these very moments possible. He doesn’t give us breath and life and freedom so we can turn around and try to impress him. No, he gives us life so that we can live – and enjoy – the small moments. And give joy to others. The seemingly mundane moments take on meaning when you believe that you’re a part of a greater story, and when you want to share that story with those around you.
On days when I feel small in my work, in my abilities, in my choices and in my struggles, I remember that small is, in fact, the stuff of God’s grace. Especially when its shared.
It was God, I believe, that steered Roy’s cart towards mine.
“You know,” my new friend continued, “I have lived a long and deep life by the grace of our Lord. I have a daughter – like you – and three sons. And twenty-five grandchildren.”
“Twenty-five!” I grinned at him. I was still holding almonds in my hand.
“And we live every day looking up. Because it could be any day that we are no longer on this earth,” he said, and the corners of his eyes showed a hint of weariness. “But you and me. We’ll meet again someday,” he said, and his knowing smile returned.
“We will,” I said. “And I look forward to that.”
Looking forward. Looking up. It was all the qualification that we needed to know that we were two of the same mind.
“What is your name?” I made sure to ask him.
“My name is Roy,” he said. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“And you, Roy.”
Small, but mighty.
Roy taught me, or rather reinforced for me, my belief in the small. It’s the small stuff that matters most. What feels small to us isn’t actually small at all – especially when it comes to kindness.
So, friends. I wish you the small stuff in this life. I hope that something small happens to you soon and often.
I hope that a friendly stranger stops you in the grocery aisle and sees you for all your beautiful potential, rather than your mistakes.
I hope that, while you are cooking your macaroni for dinner, you catch a glimpse of the sunset, and it reminds you that you are part of something bigger.
I hope that you believe in the amazing ability you have to encourage others, to brighten a dark corner of this world, and to make a difference in your home or workplace.
There are no average, small moments and no average, small people.
These are God’s moments. God’s people. The stuff that our stories are made of.
Small, but mighty.