I am sitting.
I am sitting on the floor in the hallway.
I am sitting on the floor in the hallway outside my toddler’s bedroom.
I am sitting on the floor in the hallway outside my toddler’s bedroom because he’s tired. He’s exhausted really. He’s eaten the food. He’s played with the toys. He’s thrown the tantrums. He’s crawled on the backs, under the tables, over the blocks and on top of the trains. He’s knocked over someone’s water and block tower and lunch plate. He’s done. I’m done. It is nap time.
But he won’t go to sleep.
Yesterday, three times I laid him down for nap and three times he climbed out his crib and found me downstairs- wide smile on his face. Two times I frowned and carried him back to his crib with a stern, “Stay in your bed” warning. The third time I sighed and laughed and accepted the new change/challenge this would bring to my life. By child number 4 I’m a lot better at accepting new changes and challenges.
I remember, early on in my motherhood, how something like this could undo me, could wreck my whole day. I like plans and schedules and routines and don’t like it when they are messed with. There’s nothing like being a mom to teach you to thrive when your plans are dashed, routines wrecked and schedules slaughtered.
So here I am, sitting on the floor in the hallway outside my toddler’s bedroom because every time he cracks open his door and smiles wide at me, I lift him up, place him back in his bed and tell him “night night”. As I’m typing this I’ve already stopped to do that 5 times. This is my important work today. Monotonous repetition of the same action again and again until I get the desired result. It will likely be my important work at bedtime tonight and then tomorrow again, and, knowing this stubborn child, for a few more days after that. It is truly important work. He needs his rest (we ALL need his rest) and I need to ensure he gets it. So I will sit on the floor in the hallway outside his bedroom, day after day to see this job get done.
We struggle sometimes with monotonous, repetitive work, don’t we? We want quick fixes and quick gratification for our efforts. Too soon I think we abandon the quiet, simple, sometimes boring but important work because we don’t see it make big enough or fast enough ripples in our waters. Sometime, yes, we need to throw a large rock in the ocean, and sometimes, yes we need to skip a few flat stones and see how far they’ll travel. I’m skipping stones outside my toddlers bedroom today. Training him in obedience. Training myself in patience.
These are good stones to skip. They make long and deep ripples.
I think our nation could use a few more skipping stones. I want to assure you that the stones you were skipping before our nation felt even more flipped upside down than it has in the past are still making ripples. The smiles at the strangers in the grocery stores, the respectful disagreements in your spheres of influence, the faithful prayers you offered for those like and not like you? Those are still important stones. The gentle answer to your spouses anger, the patient endurance of your child’s poor behaviors, the long suffering in hope while enduring that medical condition? They still go far. They are good stones to skip. They also make long and deep ripples.
I hope we haven’t abandoned these stones in fear. I hope we haven’t given up on the basic and sometimes boring work of kindness and hope spreading and Jesus teaching for fear that they aren’t effective anymore. I hope we still know the value of quiet, non-publicized, small circle, down on our knees, not for our glory, WORK. ‘Cause sitting on this floor isn’t glamorous, but it’s necessary.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but so much of the world’s inhabitants feel a little desperate to me lately. They feel a little lost and more than a little afraid. There’s a tide turning and I get the feeling we’ll need large stones more and more- but a lot of important work will be done, too, with those small skipping stones that make those deep lasting ripples.
I went through a drive through two months ago and the man working the cash register sang my total and then handed me my change with some free coupons “just because” with a huge smile on his face. I smiled all day when I thought about him. Such a small stone to skip- repetitive work, serving customer after customer- but he had a song on his lips and a smile on his face and it meant something significant to me. Those small things really do matter.
So, while I have some time, while I’m sitting on the floor in the hallway outside my toddler’s bedroom, I just wanted to remind you not to give up that good work. Don’t trade all those small stones for the big ones just because the big ones make bigger waves. We need that small, seemingly insignificant work to change the tide around here. Keep skipping.