Sweating the Small Stuff

How often do you find yourself just putting up with stuff? I don’t just mean significant things, I mean all the small things that aren’t much of an issue, but over time they develop into irritants, and then they truly start to get on your nerves. The reality is that it would only take a short amount of time to sort this stuff out, but for some reason, we create little workarounds and just put up with them.

I have a number of these small irritations that I’m planning on sorting out in the first few weeks of this new year. Let me give you a few examples: I’m typing on a Chromebook, and occasionally when I tap something it thinks I want to drag it and so the arrow icon changes and the button I’m tapping is highlighted. I know, a minor thing, right? It’s something I could sort in the computer settings, I probably need to just toggle a button. I believe it has something to do with the accessibility options.

Here’s another: At home, I quite often place the Sky remote on the arm of the sofa, so it’s easy to reach when I want to change to the channel. However, the amount of times that thing has been knocked off the arm and smashed on the floor as one of my little ones rushes past I’m surprised I haven’t needed to pay Sky for another one. The solution? Get into the habit of placing it on the side table which is mere inches away!

There are many, many other examples of these small annoyances and yes, you could class most of them as #FirstWorldProblems. But still, I think these seemingly little things are symptomatic of a larger narrative that some of us – myself definitely included – put up with rather than taking time to sort out. And to completely screw up a well-known phrase, we just need to ‘take care of the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves’. I know this is referring to saving money well, but I also think it’s an excellent way to think about how we could get on top of all the little things we have to deal with in life.

If we get into the habit of taking time to deal with the small things how much better will we feel we can start to manage the big stuff?

I’m reminded of a tale about a man who was asked by God to push a big rock that suddenly appeared one night outside his cabin. Being an obedient and Godly man, he set about fulfilling God’s request. Day after day, and then year after year, every morning and evening he positioned himself up against the enormous and heavy rock and pushed, hoping to move it even an inch.

After many years of trying he admitted defeat and finally cried out to God that he just couldn’t do it. He declared himself a failure and fell to his knees in frustration. God appeared to him and asked why he felt this way, to which the man replied, “I have pushed against this rock, trying to move it from here to there and yet I have failed to move it even one inch.” To which God answered, “I never asked you to move the rock, I simply asked you to be obedient and push it. You are not a failure. Look at you now, you are a man of strength and fortitude. Compared to the man of many years ago, who would have struggled with a rock half this size, you could now move them with ease.”

Now the meaning of this tale is one of obedience and being prepared to face whatever challenges might be put before us, even though it may seem unfair and we cry out this fact to all who will listen. Sometimes it is a situation that is setting us up to deal with other problems, ones that we could not have handled without the more considerable challenge.

Oddly, I think we can also view this in reverse in that if we learn to deal with the small things and deal with them well, we are equipping ourselves to a degree for when the big issues come knocking. If we manage to form healthy habits and a mindset of bringing solutions that help deal with the minor, then we create a platform of action that enables us to deal with the major.

So my challenge to us all at the start of this new year is to deal with the small stuff, get it out of the way and don’t ignore it. Create a way around it, deal with it and see how much satisfaction we will feel when we tick it off the to-do list.

Conversely, we should also learn to look at the small stuff in a more positive light too. Maybe it’s a little thing that we need to be doing more of, like reading the Bible (or just picking up any book and reading it), taking time (however short) to think and pray, giving thanks to God for all the big things we have like healthy relationships, family, local church, and a job.

Soon you’ll no longer be ‘sweating the small stuff.’ You’ll be more ready than ever to face the next thing head-on … even if starts with just moving the remote control a few more inches to the right!

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