We are told so often, "Don't sweat the small stuff," and "It's so small, no one will notice, no one will care." But when it comes to our spiritual lives, it is precisely the small stuff that really matters!
Christians are presently involved in the season of Lent, a time to take spiritual inventory, a time to turn our lives around and live them in the way that God would intend us to live them. For many, abstaining from food or drink, giving something up, is a common practice for Lent, others will increase their time set aside for prayer, and still others will be more generous towards those less fortunate. Like the Scribes and Pharisees in the Scriptures, some will pride themselves on not murdering anyone, not stealing another person's wife or husband, not stealing anything big. For most of us, our Lent looks pretty successful if we only measure our lives by the Big Ten commandments. But Lent, or any process of spiritual renewal, will only be successful, to the extent that we put our lives under a spiritual microscope and look at all the small things that keep us from being a People of God.
It is under that microscope that we see small acts of arrogance and pride: the desire to always place myself first, the decision to park wherever I want, regardless of signs, the thoughts that I am the center of the universe. How often on the roads or in the grocery store do we run into people who are completely unaware that there are other people driving, other people shopping? It is under the microscope that we see ourselves as being less than generous with our time and talents, moments when we could have helped, should have helped, or could have reached out to someone in need. It is under the microscope that our lack of charity truly shows up, moments when we utter words we should not have said, careless talk that reflects badly on others, or common everyday gossip. A lack of charity is not only found in a full campaign of slander, for it is also present in our refusal to say something kind about another, in our lack of sensitivity when being critical, in moments when our humor tramples on the dignity of the other person.
If the truth be told, some of the biggest challenges to our spiritual lives are found in the smallest and most ordinary parts of our lives -- in those entrenched habits which we refuse to work on, in the part of our lives that we are "too old to change," in the most ordinary and simple everyday activities. Lent should give us a chance to look closely at our lives, and root out all those small things that are keeping us from being the people God wants us to be.