“We’re too young to realize certain things are impossible – so we will do them anyway.” –William Pitt, Amazing Grace
When I was a teenager, I wanted to change the world. A lot of teenagers feel that way, I think. So when I first watched the movie Amazing Grace and heard this quote, I loved it. And I loved watching William Wilberforce go on to do just what his friend, Pitt, suggested – change the world.
The thing is, Wilberforces are few and far between. Not many succeed in changing the entire world in a lasting way. So are we reaching for an impossible goal?
Maybe. Maybe not.
The thing is, I think we’re missing an important part of the picture. Our lives don’t consist of world-changing events. They consist of ordinary days.
What’s a world-changer wannabe to do in a world of daily spelling tests and soccer games, 9-to-5 jobs and phone bills, sore throats and runny noses, dirty dishes and disagreements with friends?
We’ve forgotten the importance of those daily challenges – and the beauty of daily pleasures.
This past week, I finished reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. A few chapters in, a young man suggests to Grandpa that he use fake turf to eliminate the need to mow his front yard.
“That’s the trouble with your generation,” said Grandpa. “Bill, I’m ashamed of you, you a newspaperman. All the things in life that were put here to savor, you eliminate. Save time, save work, you say.” He nudged the grass trays disrespectfully. “Bill, when you’re my age, you’ll find out it’s the little things that count more than big ones. A walk on a spring morning is better than an eighty-mile ride in a hopped-up car, you know why? Because it’s full of flavors, full of lots of things growing. You’ve time to seek and find. I know—you’re after the broad effect now, and I suppose that’s fit and proper. But for a young man working on a newspaper, you got to look for grapes as well as watermelons. You greatly admire skeletons and I like fingerprints; well and good. Right now such things are bothersome to you, and I wonder if it isn’t because you’ve never learned to use them. If you had your way you’d pass a law to abolish all the little jobs, the little things. But then you’d leave yourselves nothing to do between the big jobs and you’d have a devil of a time thinking up things to do so you wouldn’t go crazy. Instead of that, why not let nature show you a few things? Cutting grass and pulling weeds can be a way of life, son.”
I read that, and I wondered…how often have I become discontent, frustrated, worried, or depressed because I don’t know what the next “big job” I’m supposed to do is? But maybe finding my life’s purpose is less about my mission to change the world and more about the little jobs that make up the everyday.
Maybe it’s less about writing a New York Times best seller and more about writing a single blog post twice a week or writing a note to a friend.
Maybe it’s less about changing kids’ lives in the far off future and more about driving my sister to youth group or listening to the after-school kid’s story of his bad day at school.
Maybe it’s less about finding my dream job and more about working hard in the job I already have.
Maybe it’s less about evangelizing my city/country/world and more about loving the people in my life the way Jesus loves them.
Maybe it’s about not getting so caught up in my fears and dreams for the future and taking time to notice the golden hay, purple wildflowers, and green grass growing in my own backyard.
Cutting grass and pulling weeds can be a way of life.
Maybe it’s time for me to stop trying to build the Hanging Gardens and start with pulling a few weeds.