The July sun was turning the sky orange when my 2-year-old son and I headed out to the chicken coop. As we shuffled along in our rubber boots, I smiled at him while mentally making a list of all the things I needed to do that evening: do the dishes, wash my husband’s work clothes, finish that online research, pull weeds in the garden. I also thought about my friend who is hurting, a family member with a health problem, and how hard my husband works.
I sighed quietly, feeling the familiar feeling of disappointment in myself that I can’t stay on top of it all or do more about all the problems. Wielding my yellow shovel, I cleared out the chicken coop carefully and cleaned the roosting boards.
“Okay, bubs,” I said to my son. “Can you help me gather up some hay to line the coop with?” He nodded and straightened his shoulders like he always did when he felt important. We gathered hay for a few minutes and then turned to head back to the coop. I could feel my son looking at the big pile of hay in my hands.
“Mine is small!” My son looked at his handful of hay, just a few strands grasped in his tiny little hand, “and I’m small!” He happily held up the hay to show me. Then, he looked at me with my arms overflowing with hay. I could tell he was comparing the little he was carrying to the large amount I was.
“Yours is big,” he pointed out, “and you big.” He smiled happily, clutching his few strands of hay even tighter, and then proudly tossed it into the coop with a self-satisfied wave of his arms.
As I piled my contribution into the coop, I smiled to myself. And then suddenly, the profoundness of my son’s observation hit me all at once. So much of the time, I think God expects big, perfect things from me.
A perfectly clean house and perfectly run home. The ability to always know how to perfectly discipline my son. An endless supply of energy and motivation to support my husband and never need anything for myself. And on top of being a mom and housewife, I think God expects big things from my smattering of freelance work I do during naptime.
In other words, if God asked me to get some hay for the chicken coop, I’d load my arms with the biggest amount of hay possible, then apologize to God that it wasn’t enough. But that’s not how God sees me at all.
My son was wise enough to know that because he’s small, I only expected a small amount of hay from him. He knew I delighted in his contribution even though it was only a few strands I could have picked up myself.
And when he looked at me and saw the magnitude of what I was carrying, he didn’t shame himself for not carrying the same amount. He just happily acknowledged that since I’m bigger than him, I obviously also could carry more hay.
As we closed up the coop and shuffled back to the house, I glanced up at the orange sunset again and took a deep breath. Maybe I can only contribute small things to God’s kingdom: A dish washed. A (semi) healthy dinner for my family. A moment when I chose to spend time with God instead of scrolling. A short text to a friend who is hurting. A little bit of patience for my husband when he comes home from an incredibly hard shift.
But as I’m holding those small things, I can look at God and smile at him while he carries the big things: Healing my hurting friend’s soul. Giving my husband strength. Ultimately taking care of our family.
I smiled and lifted my eyes to the glowing orange sky. “God, thank you that I’m small, and you’re big.”