Intense love does not measure, it just gives. —Mother Teresa
She swings by in late afternoon and steps right into my chaos. My young kids are at their worst around this time, this witching hour right before dinner when the luster of the day has worn off. I hand one child a sippy cup and hitch another up on my hip, nodding at her words so she knows I’m listening above the thin wail of the baby, fresh from her nap. Over the course of our conversation, a trip is mentioned, and I think, Wow. Yes. That would be amazing. To go somewhere. To make a difference in the lives of people a world away from this small town.
Later that evening—after dinner is made, served, and cleaned up; after floors are swept and children are bathed, and I finally sit for a moment, legs aching and eyes gritty with exhaustion—I glance at the toys scattered across the living room floor. I feel it—deep within me. Why can’t I do something important? Be more? Why does everything I do seem undone at a dizzying pace? My life, my work, my moments here—does any of it matter? That ache inside me, I know it well. A longing to do big things. A desire to be more. But as I look around my little home sprinkled with the evidence of my day, I wonder, Is that mere pride bubbling up in me?
We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. —Mother Teresa
I live in an amazing community for any mom, but especially a mom like me with a larger-than-average family. I have so many women to look up to, to inspire me, to keep me going. I’d tell any one of them what they do matters on a much deeper level than what meets the eye. But when I look at my own life I wonder, Is that true of me?
Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action. — Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa officially becomes a saint in the eyes of the Catholic Church. My Facebook feed is full of quotes from this incredible, wise woman. As I scroll, they hit me, one after another. A woman who’s name is famous the world over, who’s life fascinated and inspired so many—her words and life point to small, everyday moments not unlike the ones I encounter here.
When I look at the life of Mother Teresa and her path following Jesus, I can see what she knew to be true, that small things we do—with love, one at a time, over a lifetime—are valuable to Christ. We are not called to be who we are not, live lives we were not given. We are called to be ourselves, right here, right now. We make the biggest impact doing the next right thing.
There’s humility in embracing the calling of smallness, of invisibility, the small and quiet way we make an impact on a world, fully present in the life we’ve been given, shining like a beacon of love just where we are. This is what Jesus knew, taught, and lived. Impact and importance in his kingdom are never measured by our own standards, focusing on power and prestige. Importance is always and ever about loving him first, and through that, loving others.
For some, that means trips to Uganda and beyond. For others, their presence in the workplace. For me, at this moment in life, it’s the conversations with my children over breakfast. Rocking a baby to sleep. Opening my door wide into my cluttered chaos for the people in my community. Being me, being here. In embracing a calling of smallness, entering into the greater story of being the hands and feet of Christ on earth. This requires a certain sloughing of self, a constant setting aside of ego and entitlement. It could take a lifetime of daily practice to find, and yet I can see that is perhaps the entire point—a fantastic journey that begins and ends exactly where we find ourselves.
The words of Mother Teresa are on my mind the next morning, gratefully cupping my steaming mug of coffee while cuddling my baby on the couch.
Be faithful in the small things, because it is in them that your strength lies. —Mother Teresa
Another day here, doing one small thing after another. Embracing the calling of small in the tapestry of grace God is weaving throughout eternity—one person, one day at a time.