Such was the case recently when I was listening to a podcast about life in a pandemic. One of the hosts made a throwaway comment about dealing with the stress of its uncertainty. My paraphrase of his suggestion: instead of fixating on what you can’t do anything about, why not focus on what you can do?
Well, duh. But how many of us have spent lots of time worrying about things beyond our control over the past weeks and months—our employment situation, our mortgage, our children’s education? And more?
All very important matters, of course. If there is anything we can do about them, we should. But Jesus did ask, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Luke 12: 25), going on to say, “If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?”
So when there’s nothing to be done about something, rather than stewing in your juices, why not keep busy with what you can do? The little things. You know, like being kind, forgiving, patient, and gentle—the very little things that tend to go by the wayside when we’re all turned inside out by the big things.
Finances and kids can be two pressure areas for couples. The pandemic has increased money and parenting challenges for many, putting marriages under immense stress. But couples have a better chance of overcoming them if they pay attention to loving each other well in small ways. It sure beats taking out their frustrations on one another because of what is beyond their control.
A lot of those little things strung together can enable you to face the big things. In fact—if we’re honest—most of our lives are more about the little things than the big things. An anniversary weekend away with champagne and roses is all very well, but straightening the cushions every time you get up from the sofa because you know your spouse appreciates that is really romantic. The occasional grand gesture doesn’t balance regular small slights.
Strung together, a lot of little things can become a truly big thing, like a strong marriage. That should be reward enough itself, but there is also the possibility of more. Jesus noted that “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10).