I try to live my life (easier said than done) like the title of a series of books by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. (1961-2006). He wrote a twenty-book series entitled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, but the title that most impresses me is the first one: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all Small Stuff (1997).
You see, I’m of the belief that life on this physical realm is but a blink of an eye in comparison to eternity, and we, as creatures confined to this linear, “blink-of-an-eye” existence can’t even begin to comprehend the big picture that God sees. If we could, any circumstances we hold high on the scale of significance would fall abruptly to trivial status. Pffft! Nothing.
Highest on my scale of significance as far as physical pain is concerned is childbirth (but then, I’ve never had a kidney stone).While in the throes of intense pain during the birth of my first child, I shot frequent condemning looks at my then-husband for putting me in this position and for having the audacity to not be in as much physical pain as I was in. I may have even suggested a few possible solutions for this unfair allocation of extreme pain. All I knew in that moment was that I was beyond “hurting” and that I’d never do it again.
But I did. And when I got pregnant with child number three and child number four (yes, at the same time), I accepted my extremely uncomfortable state and didn’t even fret (much) over the inevitable pain of labor. I knew from experience that 1) the pain would be over within a few hours, 2) my world would soon be blessed with two more lives to love, and 3) I would no longer feel like a bloated walrus with arthritis and constipation whenever I attempted to walk, bend, or sit (forget “like a lady”). From this perspective, the pain and discomfort became small stuff to me. Pffft! Nothing.
If we obsess over individual experiences, pleasant or unpleasant, as isolated events … if we give our circumstances unwarranted importance, we stand the risk of dwelling in the experience for longer than is healthy, stuck in a place where it is impossible to hear from God.
On the other hand, anything can be small if our focus is on the big picture. Look at it this way … if you know how a movie ends (or the football game) – that the hero is reunited with the love of his life, and they live happily ever after (or that your team wins) – how devastated will you be when they break up in the middle of the movie (or when your team is waaaay behind at halftime)? You already know the outcome, so any “pain” along the journey becomes inconsequential.
Ladies and gentlemen, we know how the movie ends, and we know how the game ends. We know we will live happily ever after – we win. Our King has won, and the victory is ours. The enemy has already been defeated! We know this … and so does the enemy! So why would we take anything he throws at us seriously? We may not be able to comprehend the big picture, but we know it exists … and any dart he throws at us, in perspective, is pffft! Nothing.
Nobody can live on this linear plain sans trauma and pain, but a person’s perspective can change any experience from end-of-the-world drama to pffft! Nothing. I have had my share of crises, and will have a few more (wait … I’m pretty sure I’m having one now!), but the more I live through, the more they all become small stuff because all of it (good and bad) will be over in the blink of an eye, and then what?
First, I will fall to my knees and cry at the feet of my beloved King as I hear the words I yearn to hear: “Well done, thy good and faithful servant,” and then I will proceed with my new life in eternity … eternity! Think of it … that’s forever! Infinity! (and beyond)!
Compared to that, everything here is pffft! Nothing.