Sometimes love is in the big things—gem-studded jewelry, exotic trips, big promises, grandiose gestures. But more often, as I was reminded the other day, it’s the little, everyday actions that string together to make up this thing we call love.
It was a Friday, and I’d just met a big deadline at work, so when I got home, Daniel suggested we go out to dinner to celebrate. We decided to try a new Thai place to replace “our” Thai restaurant that bit the economic dust (you can read the sad story here). When our food arrived, Daniel surprised me by pulling something out of his bag.
“A plate?” I asked.
When I looked more closely, things started to make more sense. The “Your Special Day” plate!
When I was a kid, Mom had a special red plate she pulled out on significant occasions—not just on birthdays, but also on days we accomplished something worth celebrating. A piano recital. A satisfactory report card. A basketball win. Shortly after I moved out on my own, my sister made me a plate like it, and now Daniel has been swept along in the tradition too.
But I certainly wasn’t expecting to have the plate show up in the middle of Tusk Thai restaurant. It was a little thing, perhaps, but it meant something big to me.
The next day I got a card in the mail—an expected burst of yellow amid the junk mail and bills. What’s this? I wondered. Christmas is over, it’s not my birthday…
I tore open the envelope to find a card from my friend Sarah that said, “Thanks for being you. I’m looking forward to another year of being your friend.” A card for no reason at all, just to tell me I meant something to her. It was a series of little things, really…she picked out just the right card, she wrote words with real pen and ink, she put a stamp in the corner so it would make its way to my mailbox. Little things; big love.
How often am I looking to God for grand gestures to prove his love—the impossible miracle, the big answer to prayer, the parting of a proverbial sea? And to be certain, God does offer those large-scale proofs of love at times. But he also gives us undeniable bread-crumb trails of his love through the smaller things too. A ray of sunshine bursting through the cloudy sky. The provision of daily bread. The innocent laughter of a child. An unlikely burst of joy that surges despite all evidence to the contrary.
May my eyes ever be open to those little acts of love. Because who knows—maybe those little things are big things after all.
Epilogue: Daniel and I noticed throughout dinner that we seemed to be getting more attention than the other customers. The waiter was extra friendly, and the owner kept walking by our table—not saying anything, but obviously observing us. When we’d finished our meals and were waiting for the check, we were surprised to see the waiter coming out with a plate of sumptuous coconut custard. I looked over my shoulder, wondering if this sweet treat was missing its intended mark. But no, the waiter’s eyes landed straight on me, eagerly awaiting my reaction.
I fumbled out something appreciative, but I was baffled.
“It’s not my birthday!” I whispered to Daniel after the waiter left. And then it hit me. Of course! The plate. He must have assumed “Your Special Day” meant birthday. Hence the free dessert.
I certainly wasn’t going to complain. As I looked at the last bite of custard, which Daniel had saved for me, as usual, it felt for all the world like another little piece of love, right there on my plate.