I was reflecting earlier today over a chai tea latte about how thankful I am for the little things: like sitting in a coffee shop drinking a chai tea latte; like cooking and eating great, cheap, healthy food on a daily basis; like having friends with character you can trust.
I’ve come to a realization: The little things are more important than the big things. (I realize that “little things” and “big things” are subjective terms, so I hope you’ll just go with it as you read on.)
What was weird today was I was sitting right in the middle of three couples — one to my side and behind me, another in front of me, and another directly behind me. One of the couples seemed to literally not break eye contact the entire time as they locked arms and presumably told one another how they’d never seen such pretty eyes.
Womp womp. I’m single and have been for a really long time. I remember those days, I thought. One day I’ll have that again.
But there was a time in my life when I was heartbroken and vulnerable coming out of a long relationship that ended in probably the worst possible way — being cheated on and (from my point of view) abandoned. I would have moved heaven and earth to have that intimacy back. In fact, I tried (and failed pretty hard, I might add).
The years that followed were largely a blur, but I was going to be damned if I didn’t use every single night to make the most of every moment. I couldn’t stand the gnawing feeling of emptiness that haunted me whenever I stayed home. Work. Happy hour. Sleep an hour or two. Go crazy on the weekends. Repeat. That was my life.
At the time, I despised all the “squares” and “prudes” who didn’t understand that there was more to life than working a shitty job and pretending life was good enough. (There is some truth to this, but I won’t elaborate further in this post.)
How is it, I wondered, that people could look themselves in the mirror while living so.. average?
I lived a life of highs highs and low lows. I gave my money, my health, and many relationships in order to experience more of the highs. Was it worth it?
Yes — but only to the degree that I can say truthfully that I’ve seen the grass on the other side, and it certainly wasn’t greener.
Sometimes I think people need to see for themselves how overrated the other side of the coin looks in order to feel the peace of knowing they aren’t missing anything. Certainly it would suck to go through life second-guessing yourself. But it comes at a high price — many years of sorrow (often accompanied by a mountain of debt to overcome, an STI, and / or a painful divorce. Blessed is the one who is okay with believing without seeing.
It’s a mistake to despise the little things.
So many people (especially in the Church) are dissatisfied with their current state because it doesn’t seem to include the big things God has promised. I see it all the time. People are blessed beyond measure, but they are unhappy because they aren’t yet married, they don’t yet have their dream job — which some describe as a uniquely American delusion (an argument that I don’t fully agree with because I know how big our God is). Most Americans take for granted that they have clean food, clean water, clothing, shelter, and education. Sometimes we are so blessed we don’t see how valuable our daily life is.
I do believe God truly wants us to have our deepest desires and have them much more sooner than we think possible, but I believe also that He will allow us to wait for those blessings in order to protect us from ourselves.
Have you seen what happens to adolescents who become filthy rich through the entertainment industry before they have the maturity to handle the money and the temptation? Have you heard of what happens to most lottery winners within five years of winning the money? Have you met someone that got married just a little too fast and wished they had waited? What do you think happens when we get a blessing sooner than we’re able to handle it?
The short answer: It ain’t pretty.
A more expanded response: the big accomplishments aren’t necessarily more fulfilling than the small ones. After the euphoria of the big breakthrough wears off, we often go back to our normal state of mind. I contend that because of this, it is more important to be satisfied in the little things, for we’re going to be seeing them exponentially more than the big things. Furthermore, we will never learn to be happy with the big things if we don’t learn to be happy with the little things.
If we live only for the big things, I believe we will always be miserable. I believe if one lives only for the big things they will actually see less big things than the person who is content with the small things.
It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it. —Proverbs 10:22