Every action creates some type of effect. A kind word, an act of service, a choice to forgive - each movement is like dropping a small pebble into a still pond, causing small ripples of change to slowly drift out in all directions. Life spreads, hope touches new places, and people experience a small taste of grace. But this can also work in a different way - a nasty stare, a sharp comment, a harbored bitterness - these acts, however small, create their own ripple effect as well. LIfe is drained, hope fades, and people experience yet another taste of what is deeply wrong with our world.
When we talk about change - in ourselves, our families, our relationships - we often think that it's the big things that really matter. We assume good and lasting change happens in huge paradigm shifts, where we pledge to walk in a new way, to be radically different. While there's nothing necessarily wrong with this, we tend to overlook the place where the action really is - the ordinary. Small words and subtle acts are loaded with significance. Every day we carelessly toss a vast array of pebbles into the pond, not realizing that every one of those has great power - for good or bad, to bring life or take it away. But they do matter, and it does add up.
When I sit with couples in marriage counseling, few see the power these small acts have in their life. But these seemingly insignificant moments have begun to tear at the marriage, slowly unraveling it from the inside. But what is at stake is even more than just this relationship - their marriage is yet another stone, thrown into the lake, creating waves for others. Children, family, friends, community, work - the waves are felt. And the waves continue on and on and on, not only here and now, but for generations to come.
I recently finished reading The Eyes of the Heart by Fredrick Beuchner, and he shares about his parent's troubled marriage, his father's suicide when Fredrick was just a boy, and what it was like to live in the wake of such heartbreaking realities. Here I am, over 50 years later, and the small choices of his parents are touching me in some way. The ripples created by the small pebbles thrown into the waters have reached me across an incredible distance to make a small difference in my life.
The ordinary matters, and the small is never insignificant. Grace is founds in the most unlikely of places - a kind hello, a simple 'how are you?', a note of thanks, a harsh word held back, forgiveness extended. In these small acts we see Jesus in a shadowy way, experiencing a taste of new life that is blooming in the strangest of places. As you walk through your day, remember, there are no insignificant moments - the ordinary matters. Create ripples of grace.