Restoration is a long-term journey. And honestly sometimes it is so exhausting.
I know that might seem ungrateful of me. The gifts God’s given me (my loved ones, health, Himself in the Holy Eucharist, etc.) are more than I, a sinner, deserve. But I have to be honest. Sometimes thinking about all the healing I have left to do to be fully restored weighs on me. And I know I’m not alone, I know that God is always with me. But I’m still intimidated at how huge becoming holy can sometimes feel. Even more so during times of desolation when unity with God feels like grasping at smoke.
While I haven’t read St. Thérèse’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul yet, I’ve become familiar with the essence of her “little way” since joining Little With Great Love. St. Thérèse’s simple spirituality is an encouraging reminder during these times of overwhelm.
Like any long-term goal or project, restoration isn’t so daunting when I focus on the little acts it’s made up of.
For example, I’m not the best at keeping to a home cleaning routine. I make weekly schedules only to fall off the saddle after a while, letting papers go unsorted in a big pile and letting dust gather, among other things. By the time the mess is too much for me to ignore, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning I have to do.
I start wishing I’d been more responsible beforehand. But I can’t change the past. The only thing I can do is get started. I choose one simple, obvious task in one space to focus on, like tidying up the desk. The easier to complete, the less I have to think, the better. The more of those little tasks I finish, the more confident and motivated I am to continue with the bigger tasks.
I know I can’t clean all the spaces I need to in one day. And if I only have time or energy to do one thing, that’s fine. That small amount is better than doing nothing at all.
I think our restoration is similar. When the thought of healing our brokenness feels like too big of a journey, the best place to start is with the easiest, most obvious step in the moment.
Want to start a morning prayer routine? Pray the Our Father, a Hail Mary, or just thank God for a new day when you wake.
Struggling to trust God? Pray the litany of trust, the surrender novena, or write down one thing you’re grateful for every night before going to bed to learn to see God as a loving Father who protects and provides for His beloved children.
Struggle with a vice like gluttony? Do one virtuous act like abstaining from your favorite snack one day a week.
We may not feel like we’re making progress through these little steps or sacrifices in the moment, but I can guarantee they add up.
For example, I pray a lot more today than I did when I began my restoration journey. In the morning I have a few short prayers that I’ve picked up here and there and incorporated into my routine. Then I read the daily readings, journal about them a bit, and most days I pray the morning prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. I pray one set of mysteries from the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet daily, and most weeks I visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament for two hours.
This routine did not happen overnight. I knew I had to pray more, so I started small. I added each element one at a time and waited a while, months or years, between making each new addition. I know I should still pray more, and I will. But I never would’ve gotten even here if I hadn’t taken the first easiest step, even when I thought it wasn’t much.
“Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.”St. Thérèse of Lisieux
This is the quote on our new St. Thérèse mug, which I received as a gift from our founder, Lisa. I loved the quote so much I didn’t want to keep it stored away in a cupboard, so I keep it at my desk (to store candy and chocolate!) instead. It’s a nice reminder when I’m exhausted and still have a lot of work left, many unchecked to-dos, or when complete healing feels so far away.
God uses all that we give Him. He despises nothing we offer when we do so with love. And our love doesn’t even have to be perfect. The love behind our little acts can also be little, broken, weak, and God will still accept it with all His Heart as if it were the greatest gift in the world. He meets us where we are, without judgement or impatience.
“When he looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, ‘I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.’”Luke 21:1-4
He loves when we give our best, and sometimes our best amounts to a small act of faith, hope, or charity. That is enough. Jesus already did all the heavy lifting for us on the Cross. And thanks to His sacrifice, our little acts won’t stay little forever.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.”Matthew 13:31-32
I have to plant that littlest seed first, in order to grow into the whole and unique person God wants me to be. With each step of our restoration journey we’ll grow stronger, and our little acts will give fruit to bigger acts and greater healing.