I cleaned the bathroom of the entrance building at Dayton Correctional for three years. And it was a position of honor. At that time I was a ward of the state after a tragic drinking and driving fatality that landed me incarcerated for six years and brought worlds of sorrow. It was an honor to have access and proximity to the outside world. To be entrusted with a freedom beyond the tight restrictions of the control center. Four steel doors that only open one at a time and only at the command of an officer behind a glass enclosure reinforced with bars.
I did it joyfully and like it was the most important job on the compound because I knew it was entrusted to me and that entrustment was deeply healing to my shame. I also knew that it was only a temporary stop on my journey. I knew that my scrubbing those toilets well was as important to God as the position of the Warden and all his officials. I knew that as I watched people being released to the embrace of their children and families that my current reality was not the way it would always be. I would watch with a lump in my throat and a prayer in my heart for their safety and for their lives to be rebuilt beyond those gates. And those prayers went out with each of them, rippling far beyond what I will ever know on this side of things.
If you follow my spouse and me on social media, then you know that this past week, we released a video about a dream birthed in our hearts. Soon, we will open a Coffee Shop in our community to employ those that others deem unemployable because of their past. That vision has been cast wide and broad, with dreams already stirring of what the shop can look like beyond serving coffee and the possibility of eventually opening Coffee Shops in multiple locations. The video has been viewed more times than we ever imagined, shared more than we could have hoped for, and the outpouring of support and encouragement has been more than we can honestly keep up with. We are saturated with gratitude.
Isn't this logo THE best?!
This past Tuesday we showed the video to the men and women in the two local prisons where we do a weekly Music Therapy program. At the end of our time there, I watched my husband push a cart loaded with sound gear in the bitter cold up a long maze to exit the prison. The same maze I shoveled more times than I care to remember in the middle of the night when I was summoned to do so. It also was part of my job while there.
When he got to the top, he looked at me and said “this is why that video has so many views. It has nothing to do with the video footage or what we said. It’s because of this.”
He didn’t have to explain. I knew what he meant. It’s fifteen years of doing the work with little support or recognition. It’s fifteen years of driving hours in the car. It’s going even when you really didn’t have the gas or the money to refill. No matter the weather. No matter what is going on in your personal life. No matter if you feel like going or if you don’t. Even when others didn’t see the value the way you did. It’s the fact that even if others never saw the value, you would still continue to show up.
God cares immensely about the little things because God cares most about the heart. And we are only able to do the little things consistently when our heart is in the right posture. He cares about the things no one else sees you doing. He cares when you return your cart instead of letting it hit another car. He cares about that piece of trash you pick up, so someone else doesn’t have to, and so it doesn’t harm the environment we have been entrusted to care for. He cares about being kind to people who can do nothing for you in return. He cares about how you treat your waitress and how you treat the girl ringing up your groceries who appears to have no social skills.
The big things don't matter at all if we don't regard the little ones as mattering greatly. Know that God sees you.
He sees you in the middle of your moments that feel unseen. He sees you wiping snotty noses with tenderness. He sees the heaps of laundry you fold as you pray breath prayers. He sees you when you can barely pay your bills and still give where you can. In all of those little things you do that feel insignificant and as though they have no glory, but they are done in love.
They aren't little things at all. Everything is important.