When Ada was born, we gave her a middle name that is a bit unusual. She is only recently enjoying it.
We named her after Henri Nouwen, a man who, through his writings, has deeply influenced Jake and I’s spiritual journey. The first book we read by Nouwen was Compassion, which is about our call as Christ-followers to be compassionate (suffering with), instead of seeking to gain more power and more control over both our own lives as well as others.
Of course, it’s not enough to just talk the talk, but to also live it out in real life. In another of his books, In the Name of Jesus, he shared a little bit about how he lived out compassion when he moved from working in Ivy League schools to serving those in the L’Arche community, a community for people with intellectual disabilities. He spent the last 10 or so years of his life living and serving in this community.
It seems weird, doesn’t it? A brilliant man decides the next best thing was to live and serve those whom our society pretends doesn’t exist. How’s that for a smart career move?
Smallness is not something our current world values. Who wants a small house? A small job? A small sphere of influence? Who desires a small paycheck? A small compliment?
Probably not too many of us.
To be honest, while I love writing and I love blogging, I don’t love the smallness that I feel when I check my analytics page and realize that what I thought was a particularly great post was only read by 8 people. It makes me question myself, my writing abilities, and the time I spend click-clacking away on this keyboard late into the night.
Is it worth it?
Is there something different I should be doing with my time?
But then I find myself back at the keyboard a few nights later because I just have to write. It feels good for my soul. Smallness or not, here I am :).
In her soon-to-be released book, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World, Emily Freeman shares about her journey with smallness- the good, the bad, and the ugly, and helps readers to see that perhaps feeling small isn’t such a bad thing at all. Perhaps it’s a portal into the Kingdom of God.
In some ways it surprises me that Emily would even write a book like this. Emily has written three other really fantastic books (two of which I’ve reviewed here and here), she blogs at (in)courage as well as her own blog, Chatting at the Sky. She travels to conferences to speak. And she has a podcast. She feels small?
I think Emily discovered something incredibly significant. Perhaps no matter what stage we stand on, blog we write at, or organization we serve in- we all feel small in one way or another. Maybe we wish we had more influence or fame or followers. Or we wish we could help more people. Make a bigger difference in the world. Have a greater impact on our area of research or in our classrooms or in our homes.
Emily invites us to take a second look at those feelings, to dig deeper into the whos and whats and whys and hows. Emily helps us to create a little soul space, to ask ourselves some very particular and very important questions while the whole time making an incredibly convincing case that perhaps it’s not bigness that our souls are really after. Perhaps it’s something much deeper than that.