"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

By Micky Wolf

How interesting—in the word small, all is the focal point. Maybe some not-so-hidden insight here?
Small: having comparatively little size or slight dimensions;
of little consequence…humble, modest
[Merriam Webster Dictionary]

First, what can be considered small stuff? Secondly, how does all fit into the small picture? And, third—why do we need to learn how not to sweat it?

1.      Out-sized small stuff is often the result of limited perspective…

What is ‘little’ to you may not be so little to me and most of time it has nothing to do with actual size, real or imagined. The problem is when we allow something—anything—to take up our time, attention, and energy in a way that distracts us from living the greater call of life—authentically and intentionally loving God, others and self.

2.     The all in small is anything which can overwhelm the larger picture…

One key to recognizing whether something—an issue, event, your behaviors or those of another person—is receiving too much of your attention, is to take time to step back, or detach [not disconnect completely] long enough to get a clearer sense of what really is important. Pondering the following questions will elicit clarity: 

·         Do I need to look at an issue/concern from another perspective? Who or what might be helpful in this process?

·         Is what I am seeing of God, and if so, how is God speaking to me through this circumstance?

·         Is what I am attending to really a distraction from concentrating more intentionally on something else the Lord desires?

Sometimes we get caught between extremes: either hyper-focusing on every ‘little’ thought, feeling and emotion which comes along believing everything is worthy of our best efforts of time and attention or, we pass quickly over things, believing they have ‘little’ worth or value for either the present moment, or in the longer term.

When we learn to make our first appointment of time and attention with the Holy Spirit—in all things—we eventually discover, from a sense of heart-filled peace, the Lord’s will for when, where and how we are to focus our time and resources. However, the process of discerning the voice of the Spirit does not always happen quickly enough to suit us. Not wanting to waste time, we instead make the choice to divert our energy on something—anything—to ameliorate the sense of idleness or lack of productivity. The end result is we succumb to something not of the Lord.

Choosing to not to sweat the small stuff, without first having clarity about what is really small, is the not the same as sweeping things under the rug or pretending much of what occurs in daily life is of little significance. Quite the opposite. Making a concerted choice to not sweat the small stuff is to embrace the knowledge, wisdom and practical instruction set forth in Scripture and given by the Holy Spirit as the most effective and compassionate way to clearly understand what is of real value in loving, following, and serving God.

3.     Smallness as virtue…

One of the most interesting aspects of small is when its meaning is embodied as a person who is humble and modest. In this light, the truly ‘small’ person is one who can filter all the events and experiences of life through a God-centered lens. Whatever comes your way—the good, the bad, the ugly or the downright wonderful—all is discerned, with humility, as being part of a much larger picture of God at work in, around, and through all that is unfolding. The small—humble—person embraces the Truth that God sees and knows beyond our finite understanding as human beings.

Day in and day out, you and I are confronted with countless situations and circumstances which stir a variety of thoughts, feelings and emotions. The sooner we recognize which of these may be distractions and temptations to avoid or delay focusing on the truly important stuff concerned with keeping God front and center, the sooner we can redirect our attention, time and energy to his desires rather than ours. The sooner we will more consistently live in the rest place. 

The less we fret and sweat, the greater the opportunity to fulfill the unique purpose He has for each of us.

How do I feel about the attention I give to various aspects of my life?

Can I ask the Lord to help me see things from His perspective?

Am I focusing too much on one area, to the detriment of another?

Am I ignoring or dismissing certain things? Why?

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