If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:3
After St. Therese of Lisieux’s Feast Day this year, I challenged myself to intentionally do little things with great love. I knew that following her little way would strengthen my faith and bring me closer to God. I feel bad to say that I struggled with this at first, but only because I didn’t quite understand how to do little things with great love. I would find myself doing menial tasks and I would almost pop a vein telling myself, “Do it with love! Do it with love!” However, I finally figured it out one day at work in the dance department office.
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I had such a repetitive task to do, so I quickly got bored with it. A minute or so into the task, I started praying the rosary. I followed along with the Laudate app on my phone. As I incorporated prayer into my work, I felt myself put more of my heart into my work, and I did it with more joy too! That evening, I opened my prayer journal and wrote down some practical ways that I can do little things with great love. Since then, I began doing my tasks, chores, and work more lovingly.
Naturally, I want to share with you my approaches to doing little things with great love!
1 Think about the people who you’re doing the task for. When I’m doing something for someone else, whether it’s washing the dishes for my mom or making copies for one of my professors, I think about how much I love them and how much I’m helping them. Although I don’t do things for praise or thanks, making someone smile because I helped them brings me so much joy.
2 Find something joyful about the task that you’re doing. When I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua, my team and I helped to build the foundation of a new school. One of the things we had to do was mix cement by hand. Shoveling the mix was exhausting and dirty, but in a way, it was fun. I enjoyed experiencing something that I’ve never done before, and now I can remember it as a good experience when tell people about it.
3 Pray while you work. When my mom cleans the house, she doesn’t listen to music. Sometimes she listens to videos of Catholic speakers on her iPad, but she often enjoys the silence so she can pray. Especially when I’m doing something repetitive, like folding laundry or washing dishes, I like to pray the rosary by holding rosary beads in one hand or by following along on Spotify. Praying while I work actually keeps me on track, and it helps me use what I’m doing to praise God.
4 Sing, hum, or whistle while you work. Music is so ingrained in my life that sometimes I don’t even realize I’m singing or humming. I’ll be working on a little project and I’ll catch myself singing a Church hymn. I really love to sing, and I love to sing songs that lift my heart to God. St. Augustine said “When we sing, we pray twice,” so I love to praise God with music.
5 “Offer it up.” I heard this saying so much growing up, and it sounded like a cop-out every time until I really understood it. Not everything we have to do will be enjoyable. I’m only human, so of course there are days when I’d rather do something else than help someone. I’d rather do something fun instead of cleaning the bathroom sink or running an errand for someone. When I do a task reluctantly, it puts me in a bitter mood as I complete it. However, when I acknowledge that I don’t want to do something but do my best to do it out of love, it becomes redemptive. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion, he asked his father if he really had to die (Matthew 26:36-39). Of course, he did, and he did it out of love. If Jesus could put an infinite amount of love into his Passion, if he could turn the most horrible thing humanity has done into the greatest act of love of all time, then any tiny task that is asked of you, you can do with love. This is what “offering it up” means to me.
How do you do little things with great love? Let me know in the comments below!