In the email from my friend Mary that I posted yesterday, she expressed concern about sharing her doubts and struggles -- because they were embarrassing. What I've found is that often it turns out not to be embarrassing at all because the person we're sharing with turns out to be going through the same sorts of things. Externally different, maybe, but internally the same. It's really encouraging to be able to compare notes, make application, bounce ideas off each other when we're both struggling with the same things. But you'll never know it if you don't open up.
When Mary said she feared that if she complained or expressed what she was going through, it would seem insignificant, I could relate. I have the same fears, the same thoughts. Here is this huge battle going on in my soul, that I can't seem to win, and I think of people on the outside looking in thinking it is nothing. And it probably is.
But I'm coming to believe that the things we tend to dismiss as nothing are often the most damaging areas of battle. Because the battle IS primarily one of thoughts. And personally I've always thought that it's the small struggles that are the ones that matter. The place where the battle is won. The big things, what are you going to do? The house is lost, the health is gone, the child is dead. You have little choice but to accept it...It's big and obvious Suffering. People understand and offer sympathy. But the little things are hidden, constant, not regarded as "anything" and can take us down so fast, so efficiently half the time we don't even know what's happened.
I think it's significant that we're warned in 2 Ti 2:4 not to get entangled in the everyday affairs or details of life. In Luke 16:10 we're told that the one who is faithful in the little things, will be faithful in the big things.
Little things, little thoughts, the stupid, petty things that get us out of fellowship. Someone's remark, you drop the box of eggs on the floor and they break, someone tracks mud in, the neighbor throws junk metal over the fence, you said something stupid to someone and now you feel guilty, there's dust on the piano, you're not getting everything done you "need" to... stupid, petty, little details. Yet that's where the battles are fought and won. Or lost. Though of course all it takes is rebound and now you've won.
I've found for myself that sometimes some of the little things, little thoughts, inconsequential matters really, are so little and inconsequential I don't even consider the fact that they might have gotten me out of fellowship. I'm not on guard against them. It doesn't even dawn on me to beware. They're small like a mosquito, yet like a malaria carrying mosquito they can make you very sick and cause a lot of problems.
Lately I've become more aware of when I start getting tense, and instead of going on to the various elaborations of tension, I stop and try to figure out what's happened, what small thing has just intruded to steal my peace. It's been a fruitful practice I think, because then I can confess it and put the correct thinking in its place.