When I was in high school, I loved the idea of going back to visit once I graduated. It was a dream, really. I would be able to see all my old teachers again and have this “cool college student” persona about me. Even as I came to love the Catholic Student Center and its campus ministry program at my school, I spent a good amount of that time daydreaming about what it would be like to come back and visit.
As I continued to think about it, I started to realize that it would be the most effective within the first few years of leaving said place. Eventually, all those people you made memories within that place will graduate themselves. New groups of people will come in with no clue of who you are and what you did for that place. They’ll be busy making memories of their own.
Leaving a Legacy
Our culture teaches us that it’s good to leave a legacy so that you will be remembered for years to come. That’s why I found myself wanting to be the next Taylor Swift when I was younger. It’s also why it seems so appealing to come back to places where you hope you will be recognized among the many people.
In my experience, when this happens, God likes to gently (sometimes forcefully) remind me of the importance of humility. He shows me that there is a real beauty in being a little person in God’s kingdom. It can be cause for frustration. But ultimately, it is the purification I need.
The Little Flower
St. Therese is a perfect example of this. Through her writings, we have been able to learn that, even in her life as a Carmelite nun in France, she loved even when it was difficult. One of my favorite examples is the way she dealt with the Sisters in the convent who she found it hardest to get along with. Yet, she always responded in the most loving way possible. She is a great example of having a spirituality of being little as do a lot of other saints.
Being Little in a Think-Bigger World
Recently, I realized that God is calling me to be little in this current season of life. Maybe He is trying to do that for you, too. No matter where you are or what life is bringing you, this is a really important lesson in the spiritual life. It’s so easy to want to do big things for the Kingdom of God. We often desire to start a ministry, lead a retreat, or do other “big things” for the Lord because it’s a good thing and gives God glory. But the little things are just are important, and those might be what you are called to at this time.
Since this place of littleness is where the Lord has called me recently, I wanted to share some things about what it means to be little in a world that wants you to think bigger.
1. It is a ‘we’ before ‘me’ attitude.
The world wants us to put ourselves first. But when we are called to be little, we actually have to put others first. It could be doing something out of the way for your roommates, giving a compliment to someone at work, or showing extra kindness to the cashier at the grocery store.
We have to start by asking one question: What is something I can do today that isn’t about me?
2. It is a way to prepare your heart for the bigger things.
I think we sometimes get this notion that just because we are doing the little things, it means that we won’t get to ever do the big things. The Lord will call us to those big things that our hearts desire if it is in His will. But we can also start by preparing our hearts to be ready for those things.
For example, as a single college student who feels called to the Sacrament of Marriage, I clearly cannot jump into married life tomorrow. But instead, I can work on my heart to be ready for that time to come. In this littleness it is about lessening ourselves so that when the time comes we can have more. No matter what the state it is, we will have opportunities to face this.
3. Being little is not bad.
There’s a distinction that needs to be made when we talk about being little. You don’t want to mistake being little for complacency. Because whatever it is that God is calling you to right now, it needs to be done with excellence. When you do that well, it brings a lot of joy even when it is a task as simple as sending a card to someone who recently lost a loved one. Even though you may not find yourself in the spotlight in front of hundreds of people, in that moment you are in the spotlight of just that one person. And God finds so much delight in that similar to the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7).
4. Prayer, prayer, prayer.
Whether or not you want to be in this season of littleness, prayer will always help you through it. It helps move your heart, as discussed above. But it also reminds you that you are not alone. Pray to St. Therese to help you with this. Ask for prayers from those around you to help lift you up.
The important thing is that you are not alone. Due to our humanness, we have a tendency to be bigger than we are. But it is through prayer that our hearts will be able to see the beauty behind being little.
Littleness in Every Stage
In all actuality, this littleness is going to look different depending on your stage of life. If you are at home for the weekend or for the summer from college, find a way to help out around the house. Do something special for your spouse, your children, or even a neighbor. It is whatever will work for you. It may even go unnoticed by those around you. But the impact it will have in Heaven will be so rewarding.
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Becca Fattes is a Chicago suburbanite turned Iowa child. She’s an engineering student who recently found her gift of writing. When she isn’t freaking out about her college classes, you will probably find her talking about something Disney related, singing Hamilton lyrics, or hoping for a Cubs win. You can find out more about her here.