Little Things Mean a Lot

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” — James F. Clarke

Few of us have what it takes to be great by worldly standards. Think smaller. Think family. Think spouse. What can I do to be great in his eyes? Doing little things for people makes them feel important and yet the time invested has a large payoff.

Have you listened to older people reminesce? They rarely have long stories of great events, but remember little things that were done for them. These are the lasting memories!

A great deal of what we do in life is colored by our attitude. When asked to do something by your spouse, do you answer enthusiastically and sweetly, or do you whine and then go on and on about how you will find it difficult to fit into your schedule? You not only communicate your willingness by your words but by your voice inflection, expression, and body language. Be an eager partner and go the extra mile for your spouse.

The scripture says “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10.)

Can you remember the last little thing that your spouse did for you that gave you a warm feeling? Did that feeling carry you through the whole day? It does for me. If my husband says, “Honey, I want to take you out to dinner tonight,” I feel great all day knowing I have that event to look forward to.

I have gotten into the habit of sending my husband short emails while he is at work just to tell him how much I appreciate his love for me. It brightens up his whole day and when he comes home and I ask him if got my email, I can see his face light up as he assures me that he did. To see his expression and hear the warmth in his voice is well worth the 30 seconds it took to send him a thought! Who of us cannot benefit greatly by a little word of encouragement in our day?

We used to live on Air Force bases. At one of them there was a civilian gate guard who stood there day after day and greeted people with a smile and a very enthusiastic hello as he waved us through the gate. That friendly face and attitude meant a lot to us. How often have you met a sourpuss and then went away grumbling, “What’s wrong with her? She doesn’t have to take it out on me!” A smile is so easy to give. It is a form of universal communication. Smiles enrich both the recipient and the giver. How about giving them more freely?

“Life is a great bundle of little things.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

If few of us are destined to greatness, then this truth is crucial. All of the many thousands of little things we do for others can add up to a lifetime well spent. In the garden, we regularly spread little amounts of fertilizer here and there and get beautiful healthy plants. The result of just a little bit of effort can be beautiful. It is the same with others — especially our spouse. A few little encouragements each day can add up to a lifetime of happiness.

In Song of Solomon, chapter 5: 10 -16, the bride is describing her groom. If you read it, you will find that he is strong, sweet, lovely, handsome, and blessed with black hair and beautiful eyes. “This is my beloved,” she says. And then the creme de la creme: “This is my friend!”

I am surprised that after all of this description she says that he is her friend. I am also impressed by it because friendship to me is very important and revered. The friend I want most in my life is my husband. Friendship in marriage goes beyond the physical. It is emotional, safe, dependable, a friend that “sticketh closer than a brother.” What wonderful pictures that word “friend” generates — good times, happy times, sad times full of comfort from friends, memories that can carry us through life! So, make a friend of your mate if he isn’t already. Do for him the things you would do for other friends of yours.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Send him an email or call him at work to encourage him. All you have to say is, “I just wanted to call and say I was thinking fondly of you.”
2. Write a note and hide it somewhere for him to find. If he’s going on a trip, make a little note for each day and tuck them in his luggage.
3. Use lipstick to leave him a note on the bathroom mirror while he’s taking a shower.
4. Make his favorite dessert and tell him you made it because you were thinking of him.
5. Let him pick a sporting event to watch on TV and watch it with him. And that doesn’t mean you should read or knit while it’s on! Ask him to explain things to you and join in his comments.
6. Find a book to read together and discuss. One of you can read aloud. Talk about it afterwards.
7. Try to guess what Sunday comic made him laugh. I’m not very good at this one yet, but it’s fun to keep trying.
8. Give him a coupon for a hug or a kiss redeemable at any time.
9. Have a favorite snack ready for him when he comes home from work.
10. Spend a few minutes every day asking about how his day went. It’s important to look at him and give him your full attention. Make comments or ask questions so he knows you are interested.

For a while, we had a “game” our whole family played that may sound silly, but it was something to look forward to. Our daughter had acquired a small, stuffed armadillo. We took turns putting it in unusual places around the house. When one of us found it, it was time to hide it again. It would turn up in the most interesting places, but always produced a smile when discovered.

When our children were younger, they played with marbles. Dad was always inventing new little games to play with them. All of us joined in and it has become a family memory. If you absolutely can’t come up with things on your own, buy some books on the subject. Every book store has some.

It’s the little things that allow us to leave a pleasant legacy to those we love. Most of us will never be famous or wealthy or influential to a great number of people. But we can be important to a few family members or friends who will remember the little encouragement we were able to give. The Lord Jesus Christ was the greatest servant the world has ever known. If we are truly His disciples, we will follow His commandments and His example. He knew the big picture but He was in all of the little details as well. We should do no less. Now get out there and do some nice little thing for someone.


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