Learning to love our littleness

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Stop for a moment and think of someone great. Chances are, the person you are picturing is probably someone bold, someone doing big things in the world, someone with a huge following, and someone who achieves out of the ordinary measures. But what if I told you that greatness is not a measure of how many big things you can do, but instead, true greatness is found in our weakness, in our littleness?

Ok, here’s what I mean. Yes, of course there are always people who are called to extraordinary roles and given opportunities for big, bold measures, but it is so easy to look at those achievements and compare ourselves to them. And when we start to compare ourselves to others, especially in this aspect, we begin to despise our littleness. When we fail to see our littleness as a gift, then we fail to see the mission and the beauty of daily life and the beauty of doing small things with great love. But why should we love our littleness, why can’t we just go out and do big, bold, crazy things? Well, let me tell you about a dear friend of mine.

For the longest time, I thought this girl was the most obnoxious person. She always talked about how small she was and how much she needed the Lord and His mercy, but to me and a lot of people around, she was perfect, she barely did anything wrong and loved God so much, she was a saint even. But upon getting to know her more, and letting go of my stubbornness and pride, I found out that she was right. She truly lived out doing small things with great love as she made extra sacrifices through her day, offered to take the least or the worst of everything, was kind to even the friends who were incredibly rude to her, and even sought to do extra acts of kindness for them. She was so convinced that her littleness was the means by which she would glorify God, and knew that although she never had huge, earth-shattering moments, what she did know was that she needed God and that the small things of her daily life gave Him the most joy. Now this girl never boldly went out to the ends of the earth, she never became a Catholic speaker or a famous influencer, she never even left the city she grew up in. However, she did become a great saint, a Doctor of the Church, and the patron saint of mission. You guess it - this friend is Saint Therese of Lisieux.

So how do we live this out and learn to love our littleness?

Saint Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10 “When I am weak, then I am strong”, but why is this? It is begins God loves our littleness, because in our littleness, we allow Him to work through us. Look at the verse I opened this article with. Note how Jesus did not say “without me you can do a lot of things” or “without me you can do some things”, He said “without me you can do nothing”.  In allowing God to work through our littleness, we are able to be transformed and to truly live out the little way. Just as my friend, Therese did in my cheesy narrative earlier, you just have to allow God to work through you in every aspect of daily life. Do you have an annoying classmate or co-worker that you try to avoid? Great, embrace your littleness and go talk to them and love them. Do you have a roommate, spouse, or child who leaves a mess in the house? Allow God to work through you by going the extra mile and cleaning up after them, while praying an extra prayer for them as you do so. Do you have a project or paper that you are not wanting to do in the moment? Perfect, ask the Holy Spirit to be with you and invite Him to use you in your weaknesses. But also remember that littleness is not only in the things we find difficult, but also in the things we enjoy, so invite Jesus into it all and give Him permission to use you to do the smallest things with the greatest love.

Let me close with one of my favorite quotes from Saint Therese:

If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.

If we were all supposed to do great, big things, there would be no one to love in the smallest of things, and without love in the little, there can be no love in the big things. So stop comparing yourself and trying to be a rose (unless God has made you a rose of course), and learn to love your littleness, for littleness is the pathway to heaven.