Are you someone who remembers the small things in every situation? Someone who tends to overthink?
If you are, you’re not the only one. I replay situations in my head long after they are over. Even if you’re not a big overthinker, most people have a little bit of that trait in them. If someone says something mean to you, you will tend to mull over their words and wonder whether they are really true. If someone says or does something exceptionally kind for you, you will probably remember it for a long time.
Because people are so impacted by what we say and do, it is especially important to make sure that our words and actions glorify God⎯even in the small things. The little things are often the things we remember.
A Small Thing That Wasn’t So Small
I met one of my best friends six years ago when she did something kind for me. We were in fourth grade on the playground at recess. I was in a big fight with my best friend at the time, and I was crying near the edge of the playground field.
Sienna (you can read my interview with her here) noticed me crying, walked up to me, and tried to comfort me. Sienna and I were in the same class, and the next morning, she gave me a card and candy.
Though the fight with my friend seemed big and important at the time, it was something I probably would have forgotten about in a few months or years. It’s not something most people would have thought to give a card and candy to someone for. But Sienna was thoughtful and she cared about me, and six years later, I still remember her small, kind act.
We became friends and grew closer the next year when we were in the same class again. The simple gesture Sienna made formed a friendship that has lasted six years and counting.
When I mentioned the story to Sienna recently, she didn’t remember how we became friends. Though we may forget the small things we do for people, they tend to remember. I want people to remember me as someone who loves Jesus. Don’t you?
Sienna’s kindness, even though she was only in fourth grade, was even then a testament of Jesus in her life. She was a Christian and I knew no other fourth graders who would have done something as thoughtful as she did. Fourth grade me, even though I didn’t immediately attribute the kindness to Jesus, noticed there was something different about her.
How to Serve People in Small Ways
One of the best ways to represent Jesus at school is to treat people as Jesus would have treated them. Jesus valued everyone, made time for people, and put their best interests first. People remembered Jesus because He was unique, but even more, because He cared about them.
Show people that you care about them. Bring someone a card for their birthday. Help someone pack up their things after class. Talk to someone who is sitting alone. People will remember your thoughtfulness.
One of the biggest things you can do is smile. When someone makes eye contact and smiles at me, it makes my day, even if I don’t know them that well. Small gestures matter more than we sometimes realize.
People also remember unkind things we say and do. You might be able to recall something someone said to you that still stings a little bit.
We should speak to build others up. It’s easy to say something that is unkind without realizing it or meaning to–I know from experience–but it can be prevented.
We won’t become someone who says all the right things all the time if we just try hard enough. Instead, as Jesus sanctifies our hearts, what comes out of our mouths will also be sanctified.
How can we serve others even in the small things? By growing closer to Jesus and asking Him to make our desires the same as His. Jesus was not focused on self. Jesus was faithful in very small things.
While we are growing in our faith and we become more focused on God, our words and actions will reflect our focus on God. What we say becomes even kinder, and we begin to think of other people more.
Faithfulness in the Small Things
Being faithful in the small things will not only help us to stand out at school, but will help us to stay strong in our faith in an environment contrary to it. Small things don’t only include acts of kindness, but how we grow our relationship with God.
This is shown in Daniel 1, where Daniel and three other youth in Babylon would not conform to the Babylonian customs even as much as to eat Babylonian food. Instead of eating the king’s food, they asked to be fed with vegetables, and they ended up being stronger than the other youth eating the king’s food.
The king’s food was actually supposed to be better, but because Daniel changed one small thing about his diet, he was healthier. What our “spiritual diet” looks like makes just as much of a difference as Daniel eating vegetables instead of the Babylonian food.
When I think about the things I wish I could go back and change, I realize it’s the small things I did (or didn’t do) that I regret the most. It’s also the good small things that I remember the most.
People remember what we say and how we make them feel, whether it be good or bad. Is there a kindness you remember from years ago?
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