It’s so easy to be caught up in our own heads and to-do lists, letting the pretty, happy, funny, and real bits of life fly unnoticed over our heads, leaving us wallowing in remembrances of mostly our bad moments. It takes effort and grace to be present in the moment, but it is only when we are that we notice the little seemingly-insignificant details that open a world of love and humor and happiness in family life.
The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heart-felt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable and genial feeling. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Let’s not let the fact that we are disappointed with Desiring the Kingdom blind us to the truth that the little practices we do that seem insignificant have much shaping power. Those little things are what life is made of.
If the harsh words and frustrated tone and distractedness are our most common responses, then that is what defines the atmosphere of our homes and creates the childhoods of our children. Big breath as we all heave sighs of despair about how doomed we all are.
But could our perspective here be skewed?
Those harsh words we speak and exclamations of frustration weigh heavy in our minds, and we add extra weight to them when we mull over our shortcomings with guilt and angst.
The little charities – the hugged leg, the wink and smile, the pan of cookies – often are “soon-forgotten.” But they, too, carry weight. Something as small as smiling at each child individually when they first come down in the morning is an incredibly powerful way to start the day, set an atmosphere, and bestow an identity, but we rarely give ourselves credit for this simple sign of affection, though we do discredit ourselves for grumpy faces and yelling.
Certainly we should repent of bad attitudes, but if we feel like we are falling short all the time and hate it (or ourselves), then my guess is that we’re not even noticing those “countless infinitesimals” of goodwill and love we are bestowing on our children throughout the day.
If you find yourself feeling like you are falling short in your own accounting, pay attention and notice all your smiles, all your children’s smiles, all your children’s signs of affection and humor and love, and take heart.
Let us build on those small successes rather than beat ourselves up over the failures.
Best of all, it is not our own accountings of our successes and failures that matter. God is the one keeping score, not us, and He counts us as righteous in Christ. He loves our children and is working out their stories (and ours) to their good, so we don’t have to feel the pressure of micromanaging those stories. Life is about continual repentance and renewed faithfulness, over and over and over, and God never gets tired of helping us in the journey.
Don’t get wrapped up in planning total life overhauls or monumental resolutions.