“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson
It was a small thing, really. No one stood up and gave a standing ovation. In fact, I’m guessing that no one even noticed.
But for my eleven-year-old (and for me) it was as if he’d leapt to the moon in one step.
It started with a simple question during coffee break at our church’s Sunday morning service. He asked, “Can I sit with them up front during the sermon?”
I saw two dear family friends of ours standing nearby, obviously the “them” in his question. They were engaged in conversation with another couple, clearly not aware of the magnitude of this moment. I, however, knew exactly what it meant, and my heart couldn’t help but skip a beat.
I looked directly into his eyes and said, “Of course, dear. Enjoy.”
He smiled back, lingering for just a second longer, and scampered off.
And that was it.
What… you don’t see it? The sky isn’t splitting open for you? You don’t understand the drama, the incredible awakening that just happened here? OK, maybe you don’t get it. But that’s precisely my point.
You see, my son has social (and sometimes behavioral) issues that give him all kinds of anxiety about new situations and experiences. Literally since birth, my husband and I have done everything imaginable to help him overcome everyday obstacles that most of us don’t have any problem with.
Recently, we’d been encouraging him to make the switch from children’s ministry to “big” church. He’d given much resistance to this idea so we decided to drop the subject and to back way off, knowing that, for this child, more drama and damage came from forcing a situation than from just letting it happen naturally.
But today was the day when he finally made the choice. The fight inside him was over and he was ready to accept this new stage. So to see this moment unfolding before me was like witnessing the opening of the very first flower bud of spring. It was an incredible mark of the (previously unseen) growth and maturity happening inside my son.
Victories like these are commonplace to the outsider, but revolutionary for the parties involved.
But do we notice them?
I’ve been challenged lately by these questions:
Am I too busy running from one activity to the next that I’m missing these gifts?
Am I too caught up in the imperfection still present in the situation (“Well he still didn’t…” ) that I miss the true beauty that is happening?
Am I too focused on receiving a specific kind of “fix” for a given situation that I miss the true one altogether?
I’ve taken a new look at my life—not just looking for the place “over the rainbow” where no problems exist—but instead reveling in the glorious, unsung evidences of goodness amidst the struggles.
I’m seeking to slow down so as to notice, to appreciate and treasure these tiny victories.
And I’m working at accepting them for what they are: evidence of sometimes jerky changes hidden within the paradox of imperfection.
As a result, about a week later, my soul was awakened to another small (but still incredible) change happening in my son.
I saw him ice skating—a new activity that was very much out of his comfort zone.
He skated with confidence, both by himself and with some brand new friends. My heart warmed at this sight.
But my heart completely melted when my firstborn reached out his hand to me and simply said, “Mom! Come on out here! I really just want to skate with you!”
Oh. My. Word.
I stepped out on the ice, and as he took my hand, all the struggles we’d had during the previous week regarding schoolwork and chores (and the emotions attached to those) were forgotten. All I saw was a young man that was teetering on the edge of the teen years but still needed his mom. A young man who demonstrated daily that he was ready for some independence, but who had wanted to spend this moment with me.
As we skated round and round, my eyes welled with tears as I kept thinking about all the paradoxes, and that there wouldn’t be too many more opportunities like these.
Soon he would be thinking about cars and college and all the other things young men think about. Someday he’d be at a skating rink like this holding hands with another girl—giggling and laughing and sharing all the joys of young love. While I hoped he would never be too caught up in his own life to want to share a moment with me, I knew that things would be changing soon for him, and that meant that our relationship would also be changing.
I held on tight to his hand and beamed the whole time.
It’s moments like these that carry me through the tough days when I feel like I’m plowing and plowing through hard, compacted soil in the fields of parenthood. And I’m grateful for the new eyes to see them. These moments have become my parenting fuel on the days that are less bright and sunny.
These tiny victories give me the proper perspective: that yes, progress is being made; and no, I will not have to endure some of these trials forever. They remind me that my kids’ journey will be as imperfect (and sometimes downright flawed) as mine, but that it will all work out.
These hidden miracles are all around us. But we must train our eyes to see them and appreciate them.
Today, I invite you to discover (and treasure) the tiny victories happening in your life.
They may not look like moments of utter perfection. You may have to do a lot of digging to find them. And they may be hidden amongst lots of weeds.
Nonetheless, this is your invitation to find them and hold on to them.
They are gifts of encouragement, sent from heaven above, to get you through.
Don’t miss them.