Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Black Friday of the Soul

I went shopping on Black Friday.  I left the house at 8:30 in the morning, visited one store, bought socks, and returned home.

If you're a hardcore Black Friday shopper, you're shaking your head, sighing, and thinking, "Honey, that's not real shopping.  By 8:30 in the morning on Black Friday, I already had eaten lunch."

To which I would reply, you're a much more ambitious woman than I am.  I applaud you, and if I knew you in person, I'd invite you to sit down and tell me all about the awesome deals that you scored.

Right now, though, I'm feeling quite pleased with my new socks.

I've been contemplative lately.  My thoughts have been spilling into my daily activities much like the background music that is subtly piped through the airwaves at the shopping mall.  I hear them, but just like background music, sometimes I don't stop to listen.

Recently, I've slowed down a little.  In doing so, I've pinpointed the soundtrack that has been circling in my head and heart:

It's okay to live a small life.


Friends, I live a very small life.  I live in a small town where I love my husband, raise my family, and participate in a community.  Sometimes I wonder if my contributions matter.  I want them to matter, though, so I strive and hustle and work like I'm always chasing something, but I'm not entirely sure what that something is.

But right now, I sense that God is calling me to rest and enjoy this small life that I'm living.  Small lives, mind you, still are important lives.

Our little lives and actions matter.  That sweeping of the floor, those story hours, those full crock pots, that blanket tucked under the chin just right.  That back rubbing, those lullabies, those nighttime prayers.  Those packed lunches, that trip to the grocery store to pick up the forgotten milk, those patiently-endured knock-knock jokes during the car ride, that smile to the cashier in the check-out line.

The unremarkable, very ordinary routines that wind themselves through the fabric of our daily lives might seem small to us.  On hard days, the walls of our house might taunt us with the suspicion that important things are happening outside, not within, them.

Perhaps even harder to bear, our unmet goals, our unrealized dreams, and our failures all might clamor to accuse us that despite all we do, we're somehow not enough.

And feeling like you're not enough is painful, indeed.

As I shopped on Black Friday, I was bombarded with so many things that I could want.  New things, shiny things, sparkly things.  Until I laid eyes on them, I hadn't even known that some of these things existed, and yet, there I was, wanting them. 

I want what my eyes see.  I always have.  I'm human; this is what we do.

How powerfully this reminded me that I need to train my eyes to focus on what matters -- not in shopping, but in life.  When I begin to long for a larger or more successful life, it's easy to miss the very life that I'm living.  When I look "out there" and fixate on what I don't have, I overlook all that I do.

But, when I look to my Creator, the one who designed me and knows how I tick, this small life of mine makes sense.  When I meditate on the fact that I'm loved and known by God, I'm blown away by the simplicity and magnitude of it all.

Sometimes, contentment comes from the simplest of realizations.

Sometimes, all I really need is socks.

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15 comments:

  1. I really love this!  Thanks for saying what I needed to hear. 

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  2. Beautiful Robin!  And most definitely something I need to hear as I approach this crazy, busy season!  Thanks you!

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  3. Amen sister! Those are thoughts that go through my head as well. I remind myself  of the fact that Jesus did His 'thing' with 12 people. Just 12. Not a mega-church. Small can change the world.

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  4. Love the insight about wanting what we see, Robin, so we should take care what we look at. I completely agree, but cannot fathom why you would subject yourself to the insanity of the mall on Black Friday just to get socks. No one needs socks THAT badly. ;)

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  5. Mm.  That's good - true, and satisfying like hot soup on a cold day.  Reminds me of Thoreau's quip that he had "traveled a great deal in Concord" (his native town).  

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  6. smoothstonesNovember 25, 2012

    I love this, Chica, and you've said some things, here, that most all of us need to absorb. My life, too, is small...and my blog is small (smaller than yours), which--if I'm to be honest--bothers me, sometimes. But I think it's so important to be who we are, first and foremost. Some of us will impact thousands, and some of us will impact...five?...haha. So I make it my goal to be my authentic self, and I pray that I bring honor and glory to God my Father, who made me in all my complicated me-ness.

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  7. Robin, This is so good, and something I need to hear today. Thank you. jana

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  8. Brandee -- your phrasing is perfect "who made me in all my complicated me-ness."  I understand that sentiment!  And, I think we all might yearn for something grand and large, but you're so right: impacting even a small number is still worthwhile because it's for God's glory, not ours, after all.

    Loved your thoughts!  Thanks!

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  9. Lorena, that's a terrific quote from Thoreau.  It's good to be reminded that small, local living is significant!

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  10. Wow, I read this and felt like we were clones - except you happen to be the one who can put what we're feeling so succinctly.  Thanks for this!

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  11. It's good to know that these feelings are mutual and understood!  (And being clones could be cool, right?  Kind of like a twin I didn't know I had.)

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