Last week I was away on vacation with my family. Every year we travel from Western Washington to Eastern Washington to a resort community called Crescent Bar. It’s on the bend of the Columbia River between Wenatchee and Quincy. It’s our family’s happy place, has been for over 30 years.
A Small Thing
During the week I reached a special milestone. Saturday was my 365th day of biking or walking. Yep, 365 days in the row I was outside late summer evenings, chilly fall afternoons, brutally cold winter days, drippy spring ones, and early summer mornings.
Some days I actually sweated. Some days were so windy, my umbrella blew inside out. Some days my coat went straight to the dryer. Some days I walked briskly. Some days I didn’t. Some days I just wanted it to be over, but every day I made it outside for a ride or a walk.
When I announced my accomplishment, my husband Kurt asked me, “Looking back, what’s been most important?”
I thought for a minute and said, “Wow! It was really such a small thing that became a very big thing for me.”
Friends, it really was a small thing. My walks were just 35-45 minutes—around the block, around our small local lake, to the post office and back. But every day was a small accomplishment—one that began my day or ended my day or got inserted into the middle of my day.
As you know, not every day is filled with great accomplishments, but every day I got home from my walk and could say, “I did it.” It was a small thing that became a big thing—in a good way.
On the last day of our vacation, a small thing became a big thing and not in a good way. At the end of our week at Crescent Bar, I was rounding up two 4-year olds for the drive home. We had a small snack and a smaller drink.
And then Grandma explained that we would all need to go to the bathroom before grabbing our backpacks and getting into the car. One 4-year old was immediately on it; one 4-year old was not.
Using my 7th grade teacher voice, the one that says “I need your attention now; this is not open to debate,” I explained that we were all going to go to the bathroom. All of us.
One 4-year old reminded me that he’d just gone when asked the first time and the other 4-year old started to cry, alarmed by the 7th grade teacher voice.
Yep, I made a small thing into a big thing.
I can rationalize the importance of my request. I can explain how we all needed to do our part to get ready, how the ride home was going to be a long one, bathrooms not always available. But it wasn’t worth it.
I’m a passionate advocate for words of loving kindness, remembering that God’s loving kindness was our saving grace. “Walk the WOLK,” I like to say. Walk the words of loving kindness in words and deeds. I truly believe we can change the discourse, change the dialog, in the smallest ways with the smallest words and deeds.
How do I know that? Because small words and smaller deeds got us here in the first place. It wasn’t just one conversation, one vote, one election that found us divided.
Smaller conversations lead to bigger ones. Small misunderstandings became bigger rifts. Small soundbites went big. Compromise became a four-letter word and moderation a thing of the past.
I believe we can make a difference with small moments, small words and deeds of loving kindness—not because of something I will do, something we will do, but because of what the Holy Spirit will do in, through, and around us.
Left to my own devices, I’m the one barking orders at the end of vacation. I’m the one judging and misjudging and then misunderstanding, the one who thinks she’s got it all figured out when she doesn’t.
When I went to save my notes for today’s episode, my computer cautioned me that I already had an episode titled, “When A Small Thing Get Big,” so I decided to name the file “When A Small Thing Gets Big—and Not in a Good Way.”
Oh, already had that one too. Wow! You’d think it was a theme for me. I finally decided to name today’s episode, “When A Small Thing Gets Big—Yet Again.”
A couple weeks ago a client marveled that I’d admitted to a mistake. My reply? “I gotta be honest.”
We all make mistakes, but I have good news for all of us. The Bible also tells us that we’re all saved by grace through faith—every one of us—and this is not of our own doing—nope, it’s God’s doing; it is a gift of God. Yes, an amazing gift!
After the bathroom scene, we all got in our cars and headed home. Minutes into my own drive, I realized I’d forgotten to go to the bathroom myself.
Yep, the grandma who’d micromanaged our departure forgot to go. The four-year old who’d gone before leaving needed to go again, and the four-year old who didn’t need to go outlasted us all.
During our playdate yesterday, I apologized to him. I’m not sure he knew what I was talking about, but I did. And God did.
A small thing can make me smile. It can also make me cringe. More than once, a small thing has been followed by a bigger apology.
I don’t love having to say that I messed up. None of us do. But I want to be able to show a little boy that love includes saying, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” What a gift—for him and for me, for you and for me.
Father in heaven,
We thank you for your mercy, mercy shared with each one of us.
Help us to share Your gift of forgiveness with those around us,
using small moments to go big with Your love and faithfulness.
Ladies, I’m headed out for Walk #371. It will be a small thing that will be part of a bigger accomplishment.