This blog was born out of big things. Specifically, one big giant thing that enveloped lots of smaller big things.
It’s coming up on three years since I first choked on the word “widow;” since I saw with my own eyes how grief overshadows everything.
C. S. Lewis wrote in the wake of his wife’s death, “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
The bone-deep shock and bitter numbness swallowed up my life and my heart. It led me down a path of existential crisis and dumped me into an abyss of anxiety. It built an insurmountable stone wall between reality and my envisioned future of old age romance and a litter of kids and grandchildren.
Life ended, and yet it also went on. I was left looking at a world I couldn’t comprehend. Surreal. Mortal. I drowned myself over and over again, with the understanding that when I finally came up for air, everything would suddenly make sense.
But coming up for air doesn’t work that way. Instead, I slogged through all these big things. Quite frankly, I worked my ass off. I battled through the panic attacks, faced down the big changes, re-envisioned my life goals, struggled with my urgent need for control, resisted the truth until it overcame me.
And now I’m here, and these big things have inexplicably shifted into my rearview mirror. They have not disappeared or resolved themselves into nothingness. Grief has left scars that prickle, but they do not bleed.
And after this breaking down of self and life and dreams, I am left with much smaller things. These are small things that have the power to build great things – new faith, new love, new possibilities, new adventures.
The challenge, being that this blog was born out of big things, is how to shift into talking about these small things. Because the small things are just as weighty as the big things. Our whole life’s meaning is built upon a foundation of daily small things.
We look at a world that is fraught with horror and suffering and torment; hearts ravaged daily by headlining terror, being reminded over and over again that our world is so very broken. These are big things, insurmountable.
And I feel stuck.
Because I struggle with the very clear fact that despite the scars and clouds and occasional panic attacks, I live a pretty easy life. And surely, my heart says, I can do something with this easy, privileged life I’ve been given. Some big, grand gesture that can change the world, heal the brokenness, help the hurting. And in this juxtaposition, in this cognitively dissonant place, I blink away tears.
Because in the end, I think grand gestures are romanticized and rarely possible. Because life is built on small things, and if we believe that grand gestures render small things insignificant, it can lead only to despair and despondency and anxiety.
There’s a quote, arguably attributed to Mother Theresa, that I love: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
And this, this is what I cling to. We, each of us, are equipped with our own gifts and skills and talents and passions. And I can only believe that this is how it’s supposed to be.
I can only do what I am equipped to do at any given moment. I can strive to be irresponsibly generous with what money I have. I can open my doors and share my food. I can write (I can’t help but write). I can love and I can hold. I can parent in the most transformative, empowering way I know how. I can pray.
These are all small things. But they are great small things.