“It’s in the small moments that life is truly lived.” Marion Roach Smith, The Memoir Project

Two years ago my husband decided to quit his job before we knew what job would be next. It wasn’t sudden or flippant or careless, but it was risky and all arrows pointed to fear. You would think, then, that this major life change would have kept me up at night wringing my hands and rehearsing what ifs. There were a few nights like that, to be sure.

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Mostly, though, I look back on that period of our life with gratitude and wonder. Because instead of a fear-filled time of worry, those days were actually some of the most peaceful I’ve experienced before or since. The answers to the big questions we were asking? Well, they were beyond us. We couldn’t force a next step or draw up an agenda.

We knew what we needed to leave behind but didn’t quite know what we were waiting for. And at the time, that was okay with us.

Lately I’m learning something about myself, my faith, and my everyday life: it’s easier for me to trust God with the big things than it is for me to trust him in the small ones.

The big things are so obviously beyond my control. But those everyday normal things? Well they are covered with my fingerprints.

I pick them up, handle them, set down what I don’t think I need, pick up what I’d like to control. My everyday moments often seem like they are moving past me on a conveyor belt of ordinary.

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During the repetitive minutiae of the daily is when my trusting soul seems to fall asleep in the brush, beneath the shade of the familiar trees and the warm landscape of everyday life. It isn’t that I don’t believe the small things are important; it’s more that I forget to care about how important they are.

We’ve all heard some version of Marion Roach Smith’s words, that the small moments are where life is truly lived. Maybe our minds immediately go to the wink across the crowded room, the snuggles before a bedtime story, or the weeknight cookouts.

But our days aren’t only filled with the beautiful ordinary.

If it’s true, that the small moments are where life is truly lived, then we have to count all the small moments, not just the pleasant ones. The days also have small moments of rejection, humiliation, disappointment, regret, misunderstanding, heartache, and pain.

These are our moments, too.

How we define “small moments” is crucial to seeing, embracing, and learning from our whole life, not just the pretty parts.

These small moments can offer hints of a greater reality just like the lovely ones do. But in these, the gift can be harder to find.

A lot of us can probably relate to this inability to live well in the small moments. Perhaps one reason is because, as Eugene Peterson points out in his book, The Jesus Way, “the world gives scant attention to what it means to really live eternal life in ordinary time.” I agree.

It’s easy to fight for a cause when the stakes are high — freedom, rights, life or death. It’s way harder to fight for moments, to fight to see meaning on a Tuesday afternoon around the homework table. Because at the end of it you don’t have anything to show for it beyond a kid who has a finished math worksheet and let’s be honest, who cares much about that?

Yet if the world gives it such little attention, maybe we need to crane our necks away from the cities of the world and force our attention to the benches in our own front yards.

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I don’t mean we have to create meaning and elevate each moment to the level of The Most Important Thing Ever. The truth is, most moments are boring. In the scope of life, they may not have much impact on the course of things or the decisions we make.

But learning to live well in ordinary time isn’t a call to elevate moments, it’s a call to draw close to Christ.

What gives moments meaning is not the moments themselves but the presence of Christ with us in the midst of them.

To learn to live well in ordinary time is to keep company with Christ on our simple Tuesdays and remember how he delights in keeping company with us.

It’s to understand that the life of Christ dwells within me as I walk into the coffee shop, the courtroom, the office, the classroom, the shed.

To live well in ordinary time is to believe in the deepest part of who I am that wherever I go, I don’t go alone.

That means when a word is spoken to me in love or criticism, in comfort or indifference, in truth or in falsehood, first it must go through my friend Jesus before it gets to me.

Always standing between me and others is the presence of Christ–beside and within me.

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Let’s dig deep, not to create meaning where there isn’t any, but to see Christ, our companion, where he actually is, not where we wish he was.

Let’s gently poke our sleepy souls, refusing to wait for a big event to finally wake us up.

Let’s stop running from ordinary time but begin to sit in the midst of it.

 

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Emily P. Freeman / Posts / Blog
Emily P. Freeman is the author of four books, including her most recent release Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, John, and their three children. If you feel like your soul has been held hostage by hustle, visit simplytuesday.com to receive a free video series where Emily will share practical ways to create space for your soul to breathe today.
  • Avatar
    Emily
    http://whispersofwonder.com/

    I can completely relate to Emily’s story if having peace in the midst of big changes, but struggling with the small stuff. We tend to forget that we can draw close to Christ in the mundane and his peace is always available.

    September 4th, 2015 9:07
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    Elizabeth Marshall

    Welcome to Grace Table, Emily. You and your words are a beautimous gift. Your presence and spirit are felt and we embrace you as a community. Thank you for bringing these words filled with truth, wisdom and simple beauty from the heart and soul of your offering, Simple Tuesday. What a splendid work of art it is. You will reach and bless many with this important message.

    September 4th, 2015 10:32
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    Sheri Clark

    Love your transparency and honesty in your writing. I needed this today…my birthday. These last few years have had extreme heartbreak, empty-nest and chronic illness. I wouldn’t trade any of it because of how God used those moments to remind me of how deeply He is devoted to me. Especially in those times I just didn’t think I could breathe. All of the above has,drastically changed my life. Like today…my daughter wanted me to watch “my joys” and because they had colds I couldn’t be around them because my immune system is compromised. It’s my birthday and I wanted to see them! Grace met me in that moment and I decided to appreciate the quiet of the day.

    September 4th, 2015 11:18
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    Dolly @ Soulstops.com
    http://soulstops.com

    Yes! I always need to be reminded….constantly…it is the presence of Christ, always and only, that suffuses each moment with meaning 🙂 Thanks, Emily 🙂

    September 4th, 2015 16:17
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    Laura

    I completely look at the notion of “small moments” differently now. I appreciate how you say it is not just the good ones or pretty ones, but all the small moments together, good and bad, ugly and pretty. Makes life more meaningful! I will be pondering this one for a while as I embrace each small moment and ask myself, What can I take away from this? What is God telling me now? How can I draw closer to Him in this moment? Thank you for your words.

    September 4th, 2015 16:19
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    Abby Breuklander

    I’ve heard so many wonderful things about about this book, I can’t wait to read it for myself!! I need to slow down and enjoy each moment, especially the small ones.

    September 4th, 2015 22:15
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    JViola79
    http://daysnthoughts.com

    I have read so many wonderful things about this book. I would love to read it for myself. I want to sit and enjoy each & every ordinary moment. Thank you for the opportunity.

    September 4th, 2015 22:56
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    pastordt

    Lovely, Emily. Thank you. Your book is on my list. . . soon . . . when we’re done moving! (Almost there – only a couple of more projects. Hooray.)

    September 5th, 2015 20:16
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    Kristen

    So learning to enjoy the small moments and to stop waiting for the big “exciting” moments to happen. So much to see and appreciate in these small moments that we tend to take for granted! Oh that I will not take for granted anymore!!

    September 7th, 2015 20:29
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    LaRae Humes

    What a beautiful reminder to seek Him in all things, to see His work, and to live life graciously!

    September 8th, 2015 9:27
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  • SimplyDarlene
    SimplyDarlene

    learning to live well in the ordinary… indeed.

    September 18th, 2015 16:56
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    Sandra J
    http://thisdaygodsway.org

    Emily – Thank you for the wise and wonderful book “Simply Tuesday”. I have been reading it the past month and have found its truth percolating through my soul, bringing me fresh perspective. Thank you for sharing your words and worldview. God bless you!

    September 30th, 2015 13:55
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    Tami Harbin

    Wow, Emily! I’ve read you over at Incourage.me, and even watched your video series a couple weeks ago, but this post really struck me. Thanks!

    October 1st, 2015 14:52
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