In All the Small Things

I still remember when my mom told me I should wear makeup. She told me that it would make me look better and I defiantly told her “no.” It was clear to me even at a young age that makeup was a construct of the world, telling me how to look and feel about myself. I wasn’t going to have any of that. I would make my own decision about it and my clear decision back then was that I didn’t need it, to the discontent of many around me.

It ended up being this way for a lot of things in my life. When it came to making decisions, they were always mine. People would give me their opinion and I would take it in, but I would still find reason to come back to my original feeling about my personal decision. Most people are like this. However, over the past several years of studying my own decisions and watching others make their own, I’ve come to realize that nothing changes until we come to our own personal understanding or conviction.

I think most people already have an idea about things inside their mind. They have a way they imagine it panning out. People have a general idea of who they are and why they do the things they do and the decisions they make in life. Any extra opinion coming in through the minds and mouths of other people aren’t going to sway a change of mind. A mind has the capacity to see things differently, but it takes time and patience. A rearranging of mindset can take weeks, maybe even months to change.

In the example of makeup, as a child, I had no desire to wear it, so I didn’t. It honestly wasn’t until I was placed in areas where it was a gift to wear that I began to realize what it did for me. It not only made me feel good, but it also reflects how I’m feeling on the inside. When I am feeling solid in my heart and mind, it tends to overflow on the outside physically and mentally. It also spills over into my actions and words. I would say the same thing of my personal spaces and the care and time I’m taking to keep them looking nice, too. 

I recently just cleaned out the inside of my car. I let it get to an unruly state in both the interior and trunk for the past four months — to the point where it was consuming my mind even when I wasn’t in my car. I was embarrassed by it. I kept telling myself I should clean it, but always neglected to do it because I wasn’t willing to put aside my in-between time to do anything about it. Something eventually snapped in my spirit on Monday evening and I took a half hour to clear out the interior and trunk of my car in a local parking lot with garbage cans in it. The satisfaction I felt afterward was immensely peaceful and helpful in setting me on a trajectory of learning to take time and getting small things done.

I’ve begun to pay attention to these things like it’s my job, because I’m seeing now that my first job is to love myself and the spaces I inhabit in the same way God does. Like any personal habit in need of change, it’s hard to implement and the only way I can find the pattern is by paying attention and immediately doing something to change it. Especially when it requires attention to something that would otherwise be rather time-consuming to me.

At the heart of this is discipline. The discipline to step forward and decide that something has to change in order for something new to overflow. An old mentor of mine gave me a short story about a house that shared a principle about treating myself with the utmost respect, honor, confidence, and love. This mentor told me that these qualities would then be what I'd attract in a future partner, friends and community.

The moment I received this principle years ago, I immediately began thinking about the way I both treat and talk about myself, but rather neglected thinking about the time it often takes to step out and take clear action so it overflows. Small things like taking time to clean my car, declutter my room, eat good food, wake up at a proper time, exercise, etc… all take time. When I look at the small amount of time it takes to do this stuff on a daily basis, though, these don’t look or feel as large a task as they do when I let it get to a certain point

I feel best when I am taking care and time to treat myself with respect. Putting on makeup, eating well, exercising, working on personal projects and work that makes me feel like I am physically advancing and have a place, being good with my money, serving, and making time and letting go of expectation over my immediate relationships are on the list of things that help make me feel most alive.

Where are you needing change with where you are at today? Why? What can you do to change something minuscule and small that will eventually change the way in which you view yourself and the rest of the world? I’ve always been a fan of marching to the beat of my own drum (until that beat changes) and seeing who’s marching alongside me, I love watching other people do the same.

This week, marching looked like taking the time to clean out my car, which then lead to many extra beats in cleaning my personal spaces out. It will take discipline in order to keep my car in the state it is now, but now that it’s cleaner, I want to take care to keep it this way. 

It’s the small things that ultimately matter. 

Don’t let all the small and negative things become bigger things that seem unimaginable to rectify. 
Small, good, things and pieces are what build something beautiful.

slowly — and then all at once.

Ashley CookComment