In 1997 a little book hit the popular reading market titled, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. Another way of saying it might be, "Don't make mountains out of molehills.” That sounds like using a bulldozer in reverse.
I read the book when it was first published, and it has keeps nudging me from my bookshelf whenever I glance in that direction. I'm reminded simply by reading the title on its spine, since the subject is one of my problems. Recently I relented and took it off the shelf to thumb through it again. Time has moved on and each of us changes over time. Whenever we pick up a book we've read, its message applies to us in a new way because we now have different issues.
However, I have to disagree with part of its title “...and it's all small stuff.” No, it's not ALL small stuff to be brushed aside. There is BIG stuff out there in all of our lives, in mine, in my family's relationships, in the issues my circle of friends are going through, and certainly out there in the crises our nation and the world are grappling with. Events or words of great importance, national and international disasters, tragedies, or catastrophes require serious thought, and fervent prayer and trust in the Lord—yes, and perhaps sweat too.
Perhaps we should use that bulldozer to take down the seemingly massive mountains to molehill size.
But not to sweat the passing trivia of daily life and happenings that seem to morph before our eyes into something monstrous and menacing. I shouldn't waste time and energy and anxiety and worry about things which are temporal, of this earth, of this flesh, of the strictly now kinds of situations. Why should I argue about the inconsequential or insist I'm right about unimportant matters? Truly, What difference does it make who wins a debate over lilliputian issues? By next week or next month or next year will I care about those worries over which I lost sleep last night? Other people are imperfect—so am I. If we don't agree on some matter—so what? Life isn't fair—who said it is? Not every urgency is an emergency—I should get a perspective. So what if there is a glitch in my well-laid plans? Is it worth losing my peace over? Couldn't I give everyone the benefit of the doubt rather than fret uselessly about something that isn't the way I like it?
We're told to choose our battles wisely. That's also only half true. Perhaps I shouldn't do battle at all, if I've concluded that something is really small stuff. There will be times when I'll want or need to argue, confront, or even stand up and fight for something I believe in. So many things in life are really not a big deal. Why should I be frustrated and unhappy by fussing over the inconsequential?
A part of not sweating the small stuff, is my tendency to be melodramatic. Okay, so I blow things out of proportion. I can get too worked up about something that should be minor and petty. I know I should lighten up. Moreover, why do I too often feel compelled to deal with other people's issues? I need to butt out of things that are not my business. I trespass into places where I have no control and in which I can't be of any help. My efforts prove fruitless and almost always unappreciated or even resented.
It boils down to discernment as to what is really important not only in my limited finite sight but from God's eternal perspective. Where is my focus? I must recognize genuine priorities. My earth-time is not endless. My choices may affect eternity. I know I shouldn't invest/waste my efforts in the niggling quibble about the small stuff.
The Scriptures lay out plainly the important first things I should seek for—the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, also what things I should lay aside or avoid. The small stuff is in the latter category. If it's my words I should be careful about, I will pray, “Set a watch, O Lord, o'er my lips.” If my thoughts or actions tempt me to sweat the small stuff, I should pray for perceptiveness to understand what is really important and then get busy to be about my Father's business.
Another excerpt from SAGE BRUSHINGS, my June “Discount Book of the Month” at only $12 plus postage. Don’t miss out on ordering your copie(s) for yourself and friends.
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