The Daily Grind (doing small things)
As much as I wish recovery was all sunshine and rainbows and girls frolicking through fields to montages of happy pop music, somedays it’s not. Recovery is real, and if it’s real, it means it's real life.
I think that I had this idea about getting sober, eating right, and not living in unhealthy relationships. It’s only uphill from here! Every day is a miracle compared to the hell I used to live in, but it doesn’t always look like a miracle. I certainly don’t hear cherubs singing as a drudge through my daily to-do list.
Somedays it looks like getting 4 hours of sleep and messing up at work. Somedays it looks like being really impatient and rude to the people I love. Somedays it looks like loneliness, or fear, or boredom, or frustration. Today it looks like getting up at 5 AM while my siblings get to hang out beside the pool all day on their summer break.
Somedays it’s just about getting up and showing up for life. Real life.
Recovery from anything is amazing because it puts a lot of things into perspective. Today I am alive and healthy and free, and that’s more than a lot of people can say. So long as I’m doing those things, I’m not as bad off as I could be. In fact, I’m doing okay, BETTER than just okay. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve been given a permission slip to skip class in the school of life. (I think I used all of mine up in high school).
And if I have to show up, I don’t want to just be a dead body mindlessly doing a task. I’m a Recover Girl. I am alive, and I want to embrace life. But when life demands that I do the boring, the mundane, the anxiety inducing and the routine, how do I do that?
I’m asking myself this as much as I’m asking you.
In times of frustration, it helps me to turn to examples of women that I’d like to be like and see what they did. Today, Mother Theresa is coming to mind. If you’ve heard of her, great. But if you haven’t: Mother Theresa was a nun who lived in the streets of Calcutta among the poorest of the poor. She practically did the same thing every day. She spent at least 3 hours in prayer every day, and the rest of her time serving. That meant giving people baths, changing diapers, feeding the crippled, washing the dishes, and cooking the meals.
I can imagine there were some mornings that she woke up and said, “Nope. I don’t want to. I’m tired. There are still more starving people. We’re not making a difference. I feel alone. I can’t go on.”
In fact, Mother Theresa did feel like this, as evidenced by her diary entries. She felt discouraged and lonely, but she is recalled as one of the most joyful human beings that have ever walked this earth. Why?
Well, take her word for it not mine: “We can do small things with great love.”
I can wash this man’s back with great love. I can make this rice with great love. I can kneel up for another five minutes with great love. I can resist the temptation to escape my discomfort when I’m talking with this person with great love. I can get up early this morning AGAIN with GREAT LOVE.
There can be a purpose behind everything that I do when I am doing it out of love.
I can call this woman that I don’t want to with great love. I can clean my room with great love. I can wake up at 5 AM with great love. I can write this essay with great love. I can work this step with great love. You can fill in the blank here.
When I am putting meaning behind everything that I do, my tasks are no longer meaningless. When I am putting love behind the small things that I am doing, there are no small things anymore.
Choosing to embrace my recovery today means choosing to embrace the reality of life. Stupid stressful crazy uncertain beautiful joy-filled wonderful life.
When I can do this with love, love for you, love for myself, love for my God, love for the people I know that my recovery will help, love for the world, it’s a lot easier. Well, maybe easier isn’t the right word. I guess, that when I’m doing things out of love for something bigger than me, it just makes sense.
Today, when you look at your list of “to-dos”, instead of only thinking about what you need to get done, take a moment to reflect of HOW it’s going to get done. If there’s a bunch of “small things” put a dose of LOVE into the picture. Maybe that’s calling someone to mind that needs you to show up to life today, maybe that’s calling on your inner Recover Girl and imagining the kind of woman you want to be and accepting the woman you are, maybe you can think about Mother Theresa when you are being a reflection of love in the day-to-day tasks that we all have to do.
Today, and just for today, there are no small things, not when they are done with GREAT LOVE.