Generally Speaking: Nothing is trivial

By MARILYN TINNIN COLUMNIST,

Minutiae (mi-noo´she) n., pl. the small, precise, or trivial details of something.

I was sitting in a board meeting a few months ago, and I really did not want to be there. My mind was racing in a million directions. I was trying to take minutes, pay attention, and banish from my mind the million things on my “to do” list. The Executive Director was giving a report. In the context of his explaining one particular point, he used the word, “minutiae.”  My thoughts immediately hop-scotched in a whole different direction from his as I realized how that one word summarized so much of my life.

If Webster’s Dictionary defines minutiae as “trivial,” I began to think about how much of the 24-hour grind I seem to spend in exactly that realm. I don’t think I am by myself in letting the minutiae often get the upper hand.

That word has been large on my mind this week. I have been doing something that I am completely unqualified to do.

I am learning a new software program (new, only to me, of course).

I did not get the technology gene, and I am told I need to create and maintain a blog as I promote my about-to- be-published book.

I would rather skip that part as whole blocks of time are eaten up while I try to follow instructions that are advertised as “simple.” Simple for engineers, maybe.

Although I find the whole subject completely tedious and dull, I know it is of supreme importance here in 2019 that I reinvent myself yet again and live in the modern age.

And so Wix and I have spent a lot of hours with each other in the recent past. I will let you know when it goes live—hopefully soon.

On that day in the board meeting, I whispered to a friend sitting next to me my total understanding of the word, “Minutiae.”

I told him “Minutiae is stressing me out at the moment.”

I was looking for a way to step around it all and hoped  he would offer the solution. He knows me well and he remarked, “As long as I have known you, you have been stressed about minutiae. I actually think that particular stress helps your creativity. Minutiae can be a good thing.”

I took to heart his words and began to count the minutiae that have shaped my life. I seemed to have a sudden epiphany that the ordinary mundane confrontation with everyday minutiae is one of the most compelling reasons to call on God’s grace to get us through the day!

The minor minutiae can be a major blessing if we are willing to stop focusing on the minutiae itself and acknowledge God’s plan in every detail of life. If He really is the God of EVERYTHING, then minutiae is probably not trivial at all.

I discovered two unrelated truths. There are two categories of minutiae for most of us. One results from our frenzied hurry.

How often do I spend hours re-doing that which would not need re-doing had I taken the time to do it right the first time?

The hurry habit is among my most serious flaws. Hurry is like an avalanche as little things that I put off till later result in a tangled net of “stuff” that eventually becomes about as impossible to unravel as Christmas tree lights packed up last year!

And so, in the minutiae of software instructions, I might take a deep breath, read slowly and realize I won’t accomplish my goal in five minutes’ time.

The second category of minutiae are the details that seem so very maddening and tedious and time wasting in the short run—but turn out to be hugely important in retrospect. God can ordain the most nondescript places as tremendously important fields of mission and influence.

The years I spent changing diapers, driving carpools, putting dinner on the table—none of those chores had even one moment of instant gratification, but over time built relationships with my children and their friends—relationships that are rich with memories, affection, and meaning as I watch them all soar today.

I read somewhere recently that it is so important not to let our enthusiasm for life get lost under the dust of living. I just loved that thought because I have lived long enough now to see how very true it is.

To keep the enthusiasm in the midst of the minutiae requires some “double vision.” I mean we need to see more than horizontally—we need to have eyes that never cease to look up—to stay vertically connected to the God who planned every one of our days before a one of them came to be. As Christians, there is nothing in our lives that is one-dimensional.

In the midst of what seems trivial and minutiae-like to us, He just might be looking for a way to allow His glory to be revealed even in the middle of our personal minutiae.

The Scottish theologian Oswald Chambers once said we all live dual lives because we are first and foremost spiritual beings having a human experience.

If that is true, then it would be a good idea to remember that almost always there are two things happening in every event and every action of every “minutiae-like” moment.

There is the “what we see” and the “what-God-sees” as we navigate the deep sea called “life.”

Nothing is ever trivial.

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