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I hope the small things matter

The world is full of injustice: race relations, refugees, healthcare, gun violence, civil rights, poverty, and the death penalty (just to name a few most recently in the news). Our church offers several ways to actively get involved in pursuing justice on many of these issues. In theory, I care about all of them. But in practice, the limits of my caring are very narrow.

I wish I were the person leading book discussions, participating in demonstrations, writing my congressmen, or volunteering my time. Instead, I find that I am the person who is exhausted trying to tame two semi-feral small humans, along with maintaining a healthy marriage and finding career success.

When I look to the Bible for inspiration, it is often discouraging. Work/life balance didn’t seem to play a big role in the lives of Jesus and the disciples, though evidently at least some of them were married. It is hard to believe that a disciple would have been much help to Jesus as he fed loaves and fishes to 5000 people if they had a two-year-old in tow who was having a meltdown because she had to hold hands in the big crowd and her fish pieces were cut up without her permission. I once took my two small children to help at our church’s food pantry, but spent the entire time just managing their behavior and keeping them out of the way. I left exhausted and frustrated.

I feel a bit guilty looking at the list of social justice issues to get involved with at church, knowing that I will do none of them, at least at this stage in my life. I’m not sure where or how to get involved when small children demand so much (though I’m open to ideas!) For now, I hope it is enough that I teach my son to be generous to his little sister, that I offer a second chance to a failing student, or that I buy an extra pan at Target to donate to refugees. I hope the small things matter.

Sarah Emery

About Sarah Emery

Sarah Emery is a biology professor at the University of Louisville and has been a member of St. Matthew’s for over 8 years. She and her husband, Brad, have two young children, Eddie and Alice. At St. Matthew’s, Sarah teaches Middle School Sunday School, is a member of the Adult Handbell Choir, and serves as an usher.
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  1. Sarah, what a wonderful post! Your “small things” aren’t small things at all! You are doing the big things right now. Raising small children, keeping a healthy marriage, working full time and all that goes with each are actually huge things! Writing this blog, I hope, will be a gift to all parents! And, yes, I often thought of Jesus and his disciples…..no children….no wives…..and miracles!!! Thank you, Sarah!!! In the end, the small things are the big things!

  2. The small things do matter more than you know, Sarah! And you already do double duty- raising your own children and teaching others’ to be kind, generous , giving people! In my humble opinion that is the most important job there is- you are paving the way for the next generation! Thanks for all that you do!

    • Sarah, I love your words. Thank you. It is the small, ordinary things that matter the most. I only have one small child and I struggle with this too. I’m reminded that Jesus spent so much of his life doing the ordinary things, and continued to bless these ordinary things and people in his ministry. This gives me hope, especially when my miracle for the day often involves walking out the door with everyone in the family wearing shoes.

      • thanks Emily! I wish we had more examples of Jesus doing ordinary things, but I guess that doesn’t make for very interesting reading

  3. The cause of justice involves matters great and small. Intentional kindness, more traditionally called Christian charity, contributes as greatly to the cause of justice as political involvement. At other times in your life you may be called to greater community activities than are currently possible. Cheers and keep up the good works on all the daily stuff; it matters greatly.

    • Thanks Jim! It is a good reminder that political involvement isn’t the only way to make a difference.

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