08 March 2015

Each Small Task

Every once in a while, I start to feel that touch of insignificance, that feeling inside that says "you are so small that you are nothing, and all that you do matters not one bit."  It's kind of a sad feeling, one that somehow undermines what I do as a person.  After all, I work very hard at what I do, and I try to help other people whenever I can--how can I be completely insignificant?  How can the work that I do mean nothing?

The answer is quite simple:  the work that I do does mean something.  I don't do the work on a city-wide or state-wide or nation-wide or world-wide level; no, I do my work on the individual level, with the students who happen to be in my school at any given time, with my step-children and wife, with my church, in the classes that I take.  My work isn't noticed by the newspapers, and you won't see it on the evening news.  You won't hear people talking about it at the water cooler, and you won't be reading about it in next month's Reader's Digest.

My work is like almost everyone else's work, and it's quite beautiful just as it is.
My work involves helping my students resolve schedule conflicts and school-related problems, and in the process teaching them how to deal effectively with conflicts and problems on their own.  My work involves encouraging them, validating them as human beings, showing them caring and love, and even setting them straight when they're out of line every once in a while.  It involves congratulating them when they've done well and helping them out when they've done poorly so that next time, they can do well.

My work involves encouraging my three step-children, buying them school clothes and paying for college, helping them with school when they need help, explaining some of the realities of life to them (when they'll listen, of course!), being there when they need someone to be there, making sure that they have a roof over their heads and enough food to eat.  My work is listening when they have jokes or problems or stories and telling them my jokes or problems or stories.  My work doesn't involve judging them, but letting them grow into the people they are meant to be.

My work is keeping the yard clean, replacing the old, worn-out windows, mowing the lawn, planting flowers, fixing the garbage disposal, cleaning the garage.  It is trying to live my faith, maintaining websites, praying, reading and learning so that I may continue growing as a person, paying attention to the lessons that life gives me.

I never will find a cure for cancer or Muscular Dystrophy.  I will not star in a film or throw the touchdown pass that wins the Super Bowl.  I will not appear on the cover of Time or Newsweek, and I won't be able to build a beautiful new housing project to help out lower-income people.  That's not where my life has been leading, and that's fine with me.  I'm helping life out by doing just what I'm doing, in my own small way, day after day.  What I do does make a difference, and even the smallest difference can grow into a large difference before I know it.

So when those moments of insignificant feelings come along, I remind myself that I am significant, and that there are people who benefit from the contributions that I make to life.  I'm not touching stadiums full of people at a time, but I'm touching deeply, and unless I keep that in mind and respect that fact, my touch will be weak and almost even useless.  I want the touch of each small task in my life to be as profound as it possibly can be, and the only way I can be sure of it is to be sure that I respect each small task for exactly what it is:  part of my life's calling, part of the contribution that I make to the harmony of the universe.

And I know that you contribute just as much, if not more, to the harmony of the universe, and I thank you for all that you give to this world--all that you have given, and all that you shall give!

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