Most of the time, the little things are really the big things in disguise.
This is something that’s becoming more and more apparent to me the older I get. And something I need to be more cognizant of in my everyday interactions with others.
Because you never know when something seemingly small you do can have a huge impact on someone else’s life. And when you feel those nudges to do something, say something, no matter how small or trivial it may seem, you need to act on them. I truly believe those nudges come from God–or whatever higher power you believe in–and are whispers from Him that He is here through the good days and the not-so-great ones too.
Yesterday, the little things hit me several times like a ton of bricks.
Since keeping it real is what I do here, I’ll just tell you if you haven’t already guessed — I’ve been struggling lately. Covid, the horrible things that are happening in our country, the divide that has really become pronounced lately, letting one of my kids fly out of the nest — it’s all been a lot. An awful lot. Emphasis on awful.
Add to that the stress of work right now and it’s sometimes all I can do to put one foot in front of the other. Teaching itself is tough enough, but teaching during a global pandemic amid building construction while feeling completely disregarded by your own governor and Department of Education can push a person over the edge pretty quickly.
I came pretty darn close to that edge last night.
I won’t go into details, but I felt very disrespected in a very public way yesterday evening. And suddenly I felt like I could barely breathe. I was so upset I was in tears–which doesn’t usually happen easily for me. I was mad and I was hurt, but mostly I felt completely disrespected. And it made me suddenly question many things in my life–why I teach, why I try to help make a difference, why I put myself out there so much just to get stepped on.
I was so upset, I wasn’t only in tears, I was in f-bombs. Poor Child #3 still at home heard his mom say words he probably didn’t know she knew. (Or wished she didn’t know.)
Sometimes you just gotta get those out.
Feeling humiliated and hurt, I found myself pulled out of the pit of self-pity and darkness by seemingly little things–first, a group of friends who are like sisters (and also include my two sisters) was ready on our chat to help by listening to my rants and saying all the right things (including some f-bombs of their own). I’m not sure I would’ve survived the past year without this amazing group of peers who are like (and include) family.
Then even though I was a raving lunatic when my husband got home from football practice because I was so mad and hurt, and even though we both yelled at each other a little because we were both stressed and feeling crappy, my husband called the truce by bringing me a glass of wine. A simple gesture, but one that made me know he cared about my feelings (and wanted me to maybe relax just a little bit, which I MAY have needed to do).
Then I checked my phone, and those little things hit me hard. First, I had a message from a friend just wanting to know how things had gone because she knew I would be attending a meeting. Seriously, just checking in with people when you know they’ve got something going on can mean so much.
Next, I had messages from two different friends from work who don’t normally text me telling me that they were sorry for what happened and wanted to know if I was okay or needed anything. These two people will never realize how much that meant to me. Simple texts, simple words that just said, “I’m sorry and I’m here.” Little things that were huge to me.
Then my sweet, sassy mom called, and I won’t tell you exactly what she said, but her Mama Bear came roaring out and she offered to do some pretty shady shit for me. And when your mom who is the least violent person next to Mother Theresa is crying and offering to inflict just a little bodily harm on someone for you, it is a little thing that has a big impact.
People just reaching out and saying, “I care.” “I’m listening.” “I’ve got a cane and I’m not afraid to use it.” These are big, big things. It was like God was telling me I needed to check myself before I wreck myself. My self-pity and anger and feelings of disrespect were overpowered by feelings of love and respect from people I expected it from–and from several I wasn’t expecting.
Don’t ignore the little things. The quick texts, the notes in a mailbox, the coffee you bring that co-worker. If something inside you is suggesting you ask someone how they’re doing, listen to that voice and do it. You’ll be amazed at how big those little things can be to someone, especially someone who doesn’t wear their heart on their sleeves as much as I do. You may not even realize what is going on in that person’s life. Your little thing may be the biggest thing for them. It may be the thing that keeps them from quitting or gets them through another day. It may be the thing that helps them make a tough decision or gives them permission to put off that decision for another day.
You. Just. Never. Know.
Do the little things. Do them with purpose and with love. What takes you maybe 30 seconds or costs you $3 could reap benefits a thousandfold or more.