It’s All About the Little Things Part 3 – How do I Regain Control?

Welcome Back! This is Part 3 of “It’s All About the Little Things”. I am so glad you’re here. I’ve subtitled today’s conversation “How do I Regain Control”. It is important to understand how to exercise power over the little things that come at us because that which we fail to control could end up controlling us.

A little thing, by itself, is manageable. A single stone can be easily tossed aside. But when they accumulate, they get heavy in a hurry. Our little grievances are the same way. Ideally, we process them as they come. If we have already allowed them to pile up, we need some tools for sorting and removing them

If you read Part 1, you know I recently found myself heavy hearted because of the little things I had piled up, unaddressed. I gave a few examples of the many I needed to sort through. Hopefully you were able to identify some little things you may have swept aside and realize how quickly they can amass into something major.

In Part 2, I shared what happens to me, physically and psychologically when I allow my little things to build. Did you pinpoint some symptoms of your own which alert you to the fact that your pile of little things has gotten out of control? When we’re feeling the weight of our little things, it’s a sure sign that we’re carrying too many of them!

How do we regain control of the little things which threaten to control us?

We hear something on the radio, and it irks us. We get cut off in traffic and we’re bothered. We get to work and realize we forgot lunch. Someone looks critically at our outfit. The printer is out of paper. The boss changed the meeting to an earlier time, and we’re not prepared. All of this can happen within a single hour. Most of it is out of our control.

We may choose to focus on the positive things. Take the same hour of time, for instance. We hear something on the radio that makes us laugh. We see a great bumper sticker in traffic. We realize we forgot lunch, so we invite someone to grab a sandwich down the street. Someone compliments our outfit. The printer is easy to reload. The boss changed the meeting to an earlier time and that frees us for another project. We control our perspective.

Even so, stuff slips through. And just because we swept the negative away and put a happy foot forward, doesn’t mean we weren’t affected by it. We just stuffed it in a corner of our psyches where it doesn’t show through. After a while the pile of them grows into something we can no longer hide. They affect our attitudes, our relationships, and our wellbeing. Deal with them, we must. But how?

Rock barrier: It’s All About the Little Things Part 3 - How do I Regain Control?
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash
When we allow our little things to pile up, they get too heavy to control

My process for dealing with little things includes five steps.

I need to take the time to pay attention. If I am going to get rid of my little things for good, I need to deal with them individually. I need to get alone with God in a quiet place. Then I’m able to go through these five steps with each little thing I can recall.

1. Identify

What is the little thing? What is the cause of its irritation? I have to identify it before I can correctly handle it. (i.e., This is the surcharge that was added to my lunch bill for ‘the additional costs of running the restaurant’, which took me by surprise.)

2. Extricate

Where does this little thing start and stop? What are its parameters? I need to extricate it from the other little things so I deal with each of them separately. (i.e., This has nothing to do with lady talking so loudly at the table next to me. That is a different issue. This is about the surcharge.)

3. Feel

How does this little thing make me feel? I sit in the emotion of it for a minute. I want to understand why it makes me feel the way it does. (i.e., I feel robbed by this charge. I think they took advantage of me.)

4. Evaluate

I evaluate the power of the little thing over me. Is there a lesson I can learn from it? Has God allowed me to encounter it for a reason? (i.e., If I am ever tempted to ambush someone into doing my will, I will remember how this feels and be forthcoming instead.)

5. Pray

Lastly, I pray about it. I ask forgiveness if I notice I have dishonored God in my hoarding or handling of this little thing. When I have finished, I give it to God for disposal. (i.e., Is this irritation caused by greed? I don’t think so. I would have gladly paid the extra percentage to help the small business stay open. It might be about my pride, though. This one didn’t just get off-handedly brushed into my pile of little things. I put it there because I wanted to come back and wallow in it. Please forgive me, Jesus. I give it to you, free and clear.)

Stone in hand: It’s All About the Little Things Part 3 - How do I Regain Control?
Photo by petr sidorov on Unsplash
Open handed, I give my little things to God

Once I have emptied my pile of everything I can think of, I ask God to remind me of anything I’ve missed. When every little thing has been dealt with, I can sanitize the area, so to speak, with Scripture. I pray verses, such as the ones below, and any others the Holy Spirit brings to mind.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Psalm 51:10, 12

“I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”

Psalm 119:58-60

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Psalm 143:8

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 10:23

It is a process, but my heart and mind get lighter and freer as I go. When the little things which were controlling me have been discarded, I can give control of my life back to God. I can renew my resolve with Him to deal with my little things before they pile up.

I have worked through the process of regaining control this week and I have gotten right before God. I feel so much better! I can think. I can breathe and sleep. My joy has returned. I pray the same for you.

I’m not saying this is the only way to deal with little things or even the right way. This is just the habit I’ve tried to keep. Do you have any other suggestions?

Of course, there are many positive little things too, and they add up to piles of good things in our lives. I believe it is important to store those in an intentional way. Maybe that is a discussion prompt for another time.

Thank you so much for joining me here on the Back Porch this week. The process of regaining control of my little things has been so much sweeter with your company. How has it been for you? What are you feeling? Have you been surprised at anything you’ve discovered along the way?


It’s All About the Little Things Part 2 – What is this I’m Feeling?

Hello again! Welcome to Part 2 of “It’s All About the Little Things”. I am so glad you’re here. I’ve subtitled today’s conversation “What is this I’m Feeling” because I want to talk about the physical and psychological symptoms which might alert us that it is time to address our little things.

A little thing, by itself, does not pose much of a problem. A single grain of sand can easily be brushed away. But a sandbag is difficult to carry. Our little grievances are the same way. The key is processing them before they pile up.

And Heaven forbid we decide not to deal with a big thing (or several) and simply stuff it away with our little things. It won’t take long for that pile to grow into something unmanageable. If we don’t process things, we give them power over us and none of us want that!

How do we know when we have stuffed away too many pesky little things?

God has given us a built-in alarm system to let us know when we’ve ignored our little things for too long. These physical and psychological symptoms motivate us to take necessary steps toward relief. They may feel uncomfortable, but they are designed for our good.

You and I may have different indicators which alert us that our pile of little things has gotten too heavy and needs to be addressed. Can you identify what some of yours might be? I have three big ones.

1. Difficulty breathing

This is different than a feeling of anxiety or breathlessness. This feels like my chest is too heavy to expand. It makes me pause too long after I exhale. I just stop breathing until I have to gasp for air. Have any of you experienced something similar?

2. Trouble focusing

This happens when many of the little things in my pile have a common theme. I have trouble separating one from another. Before too long, I catch myself staring into space, not able to focus on any of it. My brain freezes like a computer with too much to compute.

3. Negativity spill

Clean up on aisle 11! I caught myself spilling my negativity recently. I was speaking to someone on the phone and she mentioned something related to one of my little things. I found myself getting sucked into my pile and allowing the negativity there to dictate my response.

A pile of many lego faces: Photo by Carson Arias on Unsplash
Photo by Carson Arias on Unsplash

You know the feeling, right? The tiniest thing happens and you react way out of proportion. Why? Because that tiny thing was just one in a giant pile of little things and your reaction was influenced by the heaviness of it all.

Nobody else can see our piles. They don’t know the weight of what we’re feeling. Maybe we don’t even understand the gravity of it. But when we begin to see the fallout, we know we have a problem. Prayerfully we can be more mindful of what others are carrying as well.

My friend, do you have symptoms similar to mine? What are your tell-tale signs when your little things have built up and backed you into a corner? Do you know how to recognize it in those close to you?

Imagine if we could respond with grace and support when we see signs that others are feeling buried by their little things. What could be different in our lives if we learned to exercise power over our own little things before they gained power over us? If we know what it is we’re feeling, we will be able to stop and handle our little things before they grow any heavier.

How amazing is it that Jesus knows and cares what it is we’re feeling? Not only that, but He understands exactly what big and little things we’ve stuffed away and why. He has given us a blanket offer of assistance. He sees our symptoms and wants to give us relief.

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

But what does that look like? Logistically, how do we dig up these things and let go? We have feelings, experiences and memories tied to our little things and some are more complicated than others.

Please join me here on the Back Porch this Friday for more conversation. I want to discuss some ideas for getting rid of of our little things for good! But for now, tell me what physical or psychological symptoms you feel when your little things get out of hand. Do you share any of the examples I’ve listed?

Emotions Reflections

It’s All About the Little Things Part 1 – Why is my Heart so Heavy?

Hello, my precious friends, how are you doing? I feel heavy hearted today. I think I have encountered too many little things without taking the time to process them with the Lord. It occurred to me that I might not be the only one and maybe we can encourage each other to work through our little things before they grow any more burdensome.

When something big happens, most of us know we need to stop and pray and proceed with care. When it is a little thing, it doesn’t seem as necessary. But too many little things can end up weighing more than a big thing and we end up where I am today – with a heavy heart.

What are these little things?

What kind of little things are we talking about? Any small grievance or irritation can hang around if we don’t deal with it. Think about a grain of sand, or a kernel of rice. They are so small that carrying them takes no effort. But when they pile up they are heavy!

Sandbags in a pile: Its the little things, part 1 - why does my heart feel so heavy?
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
Grains of rice or sand are small and insignificant. But they are heavy when they pile up!

I have a few examples from a beach trip my husband and I recently enjoyed. It was wonderful, except for a handful of little things. They would hardly be noticeable, except that they were added to an already heavy pile I had growing in my heart.

Four little things from our beach weekend

1. Strange message

There were many digital message boards along the freeway on our route to the beach. Each one had the same message. It read “Always watch for pedestrians!” We were on the freeway! If there were pedestrians at risk, shouldn’t the boards have read “Don’t walk on the freeway!”? I have seen messages like this near international borders, and they make sense in that context. But we were hundreds of miles from any border. It may have been the littlest thing but after the 25th board with the same message, I was tired of it.

2. Withheld breakfast

The hotel where we reserved our room advertised free breakfast. It was reiterated in written detail on the flap of the keycard folder, which we were handed when we checked in. But when we got up in the morning and went to the dining room, there was nothing. Not even coffee. (Is a lack of coffee a little thing? You decide!) The service was likely halted due to Covid, but the change was not communicated. I was disappointed.

3. Sneaky surcharge

We had a delicious meal in an established restaurant. When our bill arrived, a note at the bottom of it explained that a 4% surcharge had been added to cover costs necessary to run the restaurant. 4% is a small thing, but we felt it could have, and should have, been mentioned before we incurred the cost. It seemed sneaky.

4. Spitted boba

We took a walk through a quaint little seaside town. A car filled with teenaged boys drove by and one of them spit a mouth full of boba pearls at us. My husband, in true gentleman fashion, was on the side of the walk closest to traffic and the boba hit him, sticking to his shirt.

We could hear the boys’ raucous laughter as the car sped away. It was a little thing only because my husband kept his composure. He could have picked up a rock and hurled it through the back windshield of the vehicle. I adored him for his self-control.

These little things are just a few examples of many from a couple of (otherwise glorious) days. It is easy to see how the little things can amass quickly when we ignore them for weeks on end. But that is exactly what we do. Why?

Why do we fail to handle the little things?

Personally, I ignore little things for many reasons. I didn’t process my irritation in relation to the four examples I shared above because they felt petty. I was enjoying a weekend get-away and there were so many wonderful moments on which to focus instead.

Sometimes things are so little that we barely notice them. Or we feel them but don’t have time to deal with them. Maybe we think that admitting heaviness of heart over little things makes us seem week, so we choose to ignore them.

Whatever the reason, they do pile up. Suddenly, we have one little thing too many and the weight is heavy on our hearts and minds. Have you been there? Are you there today? I feel you! Friend, we’re in this together!

And more than that, God is in this with us. He cares about our little things. He knows about all of them.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Luke 2:7

Please join me here on the Back Porch on Wednesday and Friday this week for more conversation. I want to talk about how to recognize the symptoms little things can cause and give you some ideas for getting rid of them for good! In the meantime, is your heart heavy? Tell me about some little things you’ve encountered recently.