The Power of Simple Moments You Overlook Every Day

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Photo credit: Nick Casale - https://unsplash.com/@casalegraphicdesign

I walked down the stairs into the depths of the science building. Flourescent lights and the scientific method filled the air. I was on my way to class. Science class? No. Space was limited at my small, Midwestern college campus. Sometimes you’d find your class being held in a peculiar spot.

I was on my way to Evangelism & Discipleship, a Bible class I had taken as an elective because I thought it sounded interesting. For some reason, we were meeting in the bowels of the science building.

It was the fall of my junior year. Little did I know, I was about to take a huge leap forward. Something would happen that morning that would change the course of my life.

Flowers and Hobbits

My fascination with simple things can be traced back to elementary school. My mom would let me help her in the garden. We would go to the store and buy flowers together. Then we’d plant them and care for them and watch them grow. I began to notice that seemingly small and unimportant things can hold great beauty.

Around that same time, I first became introduced to the writing of J.R.R Tolkien. I was fascinated by The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It is no secret that the importance of small objects and seemingly unimportant characters is foundational to those stories. Maybe I’ll just let Bilbo Baggins explain it himself.

“...it is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.” - Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

As I’ve grown older, I’ve continued to be fascinated by the importance of objects or experiences we intitially deem insignificant. Being married now, I see this all the time. The seemingly mundane task of doing laundry can hold great significance. An everyday conversation at the dinner table can be incredibly profound.

It seems that simple moments are yearning for us to notice them for the power they truly hold.

It seems that simple moments are yearning for us to notice them for the power they truly hold.

A Nice Helping of Humble Pie

I sat down in the middle row of seats in the stark classroom. The walls were completely white and the flourescent lights accentuated the sterile nature of the room.

In walked Dr. Dendiu - a professor roundly beloved by the campus community. He began each class with a Calvin & Hobbs comic. He was always friendly, and his classes were well-known for their dialogue.

I had done my required reading for the class and I was excited for what the day would bring. I felt prepared. That day, we were covering the story of Blind Bartimaeus from Mark 10.

I wasn’t always one to speak up in class, but this day I felt ready. I had done my homework. At the beginning of class, Dr. Dendiu asked us for our impressions of the story. After a few people shared their thoughts, I raised my hand.

“Mr. Charles?” Dr. Dendiu said.

“Yes, uh, I was struck by the question Jesus asks of Bartimaeus,” I responded. “He asks, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’”

I went on to explain how that seemed like such an amazing question. Especially when it was posed to a blind beggar - one of the lowest members of society. But it was the beggar’s answer that really struck me.

“Bartimaeus asked Jesus to remove his blindness,” I continued. “That seems like such a big question to me. I guess it highlights the fact that we shouldn’t be afraid to dream big and ask God big questions.”

I thought it was a good observation. But I was about to be put in my place.

“Well, thank you for that, Aaron,” Dr. Dendiu responded. “But I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with your statement there. It’s actually the small things in life that we need to focus on before we get to the big things. If we can be faithful in the small things, then we will be given bigger opportunities.”

Mic. Drop.

I felt so embarassed. I vowed I’d never raise my hand for the rest of the semester. That feeling wore off, but thankfully the signifance of that moment still hasn’t.

It wasn’t that Dr. Dendiu was saying it was wrong to dream big and set high goals. But before we achieve our dreams, we have to be faithful in the simplicity of day-to-day life.

It wasn’t that Dr. Dendiu was saying it was wrong to dream big and set high goals. But before we achieve our dreams, we have to be faithful in the simplicity of day-to-day life.

We need to focus on the simple before the big.

Keep Your Water Jug Full

The golf cart lurched to a stop as I pressed down the brake. I heard it click into place as I reached down to turn the key. I had hurried back to the kitchen from the tent so I could refill the water jugs...again.

One week every summer, I work at a youth camp. We have a big tent out in a northern Indiana field where we hold our morning and evening sessions. Since camp is always in July, the Indiana weather is at its hottest. And air seems to be completely impervious to movement in that tent. Factor in 130 people and you have a sweaty situation.

At the back of the tent sit two yellow water jugs. One of the main tasks for staff members is to keep them refilled. I was on one such water run.

I carried the water jugs into the camp kitchen and set one on a table. The other I carried over to the ice machine. After putting a few scoops of ice in, I took it over to the sink to fill it up with water. This sink was the one place at camp where the water didn’t have an extra dose of iron. But the water jugs wouldn’t fit in the sink. Thankfully, a green hose hung above the paper towel dispenser for this very reason. I screwed it onto the faucet and began to fill up the water.

While one was filling up with water, I took the other to fill up with ice. In no time, they were both full and ready to go back to the tent. I made sure they were secure on the back and off we went!

As I set the water jugs on the table in the back of the tent, I didn’t feel like I had done anything special. It was a small task. But that simple job meant that everyone had water to drink - a pretty major impact!

If the water jugs are empty, we all feel dehydrated. We’d be so focused on our thirst that we’d miss the music and the tent session - the very thing we came for in the first place!

In the same way, you’ll miss the importance of simple moments if you’re not giving yourself time to “refill.” Even the most outgoing extrovert needs some time alone with no technology to recharge the batteries.

Slow Down and Listen

Our world is so fast. There’s always something happening. Sometimes we forget to slow down.

As I reflect on my 24 years of life, I see how the power of simplicity has been a common theme throughout. From planting flowers to Dr. Dendiu’s class to filling the water jug at camp, I see that simple things hold great power. We can learn so much if we just slow down and listen to them.

If you’re reading this, I encourage you - set aside some time to slow down. Put the phone away. Listen and watch. Focus on the simple things around you. Take in a sunset. Read a book. Ask your spouse about their day and truly listen. Take time for the simple things in life.

It might just be the most important thing you do.

Photo credit: Jake Givens - https://unsplash.com/@jakegivens

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