Life is full of the mundane and routine. Many of our routines are healthy… but some are not. Unfortunately, at my house my very spirited 5 ½ year old has gotten into the frustrating routine of battling me at every meal. The usual question: “What are we having for dinner?” The predictable response to every meal choice put on the table: “That’s disgusting! I don’t want to eat that!”
I used to get really frustrated, and even angry about World War 3 breaking out at dinner time, which delighted my little adversary. He loves a good fight with mom! I’ve been trying a new tactic—showing no emotion and reminding my son that if he doesn’t want to eat what I’ve cooked, that’s his choice, but he’ll go to bed hungry. This has been very helpful in diffusing the conflict, but has not taken away my frustration.
You see, while my son doesn’t see any emotion on my face, the inner dialogue in my head goes something like this: “Really?! You are whining and complaining AGAIN! Do you think I want to be cooking for an ungrateful little stinker who cannot be pleased?! Make yourself dinner! And while you’re at it, pick up the giant mess you created in the other room while I have been working in the kitchen!”
I love my son more than words can express, but sometimes his constant complaints and never-ending challenges wear me down. Frankly, they make me crabby. If I let my negative dialogue get to me, it impacts how I feel about myself, and even how I treat the people around me.
And then there are those moments… like a wisp of fresh air, or sunbeams breaking through the clouds… when the normal routine—the mundane—becomes extraordinary. My son asks, “What are we having for dinner tonight?” I give my “emotionless” answer and brace myself for his outburst, but I hear: “That sounds great! Thanks mom, you’re the best!” A hug and a smile, and then he is off again to hunt dinosaurs.
Never mind that I made the same meal four days ago and four days ago it was disgusting! Never mind that 6 out of the last 7 times he asked the question I got a persnickety response. That one unexpected compliment makes my work worthwhile. It brightens my whole day! And it changes the whole mood of the house. I’m reenergized to do the things that I don’t necessarily enjoy doing.
We live in a world geared toward discontent, darkness, dissatisfaction. Negativity IS the norm. And yet, as believers, Jesus calls us to be counter cultural. We are not supposed to be normal (Rom 12:2). Jesus has called us to be light in a dark and negative world (Matt 5:14). Ever notice how even a small candle flame can light up a dark room? We are called to be that one compliment in a sea of complaints, to be a smile in a world of frowns, to be a helping hand in a dog eat dog day.
Never underestimate the power of a small act. When we take the time to intentionally shine the love of Jesus into the world around us, (i.e. opening a door for someone, encouraging a co-worker, talking to a stranger in the grocery line, etc.) we just might change the course of someone’s day…and who knows, maybe even their eternity.
Lord, thank you for opportunity to bless others in your name. Help me to see the needs that exist around me, and give me the desire to do something about them. Remind me that no act of kindness is too small to be used by you. Amen.