Highlighting the Small Wins Helps Balance the Chaos

plumbing is fixable
Erika (left) and Sinclair wear N95 masks and give thumbs up and smiles to celebrate the successful clearing of the main sewer line that was obstructed due to root intrusions.

In the overwhelming chaos of all that swirls around us, sometimes focusing on the small victories can get us through the week.


What a week it has been! War. Wild weather. Politics. Add in what’s happening in our personal lives – health concerns, finances, grief, etc. – and life might just feel overwhelming. This is when it’s time to focus on the small wins.

Earlier this week I went down to the basement to do laundry only to discover water on the floor. It turns out that it was more than water; the sewer main was obstructed. Erika and I tried to fix it and quickly realized it would take tools we didn’t have. We called the professionals. And until they could come out, we would be camping in our house with no indoor plumbing.

The next day Sinclair showed up with his camera and pro-grade auger and had the roots cleared from the main sewer line in no time. Water could flow freely in our house once more. And we are grateful.

This small win does not change situations around the globe or counterbalance climate change. It does nothing to offset our health challenges or lighten grief at all. However, it is a positive. It sparked gratitude and happiness, if not full on joy.

When the chaos of the world around us and the events in our personal lives threaten to overwhelm us, sometimes the best we can do is celebrate the small wins. Of course the small wins won’t change the big picture. Yet, it truly is the little things that can lift our spirits.

The war in Ukraine continues and it is horrific. The war in Israel is also horrific and it is confusing to most of us who are not Middle East scholars. The constant threat of super storms is unnerving to say the least. Our own personal medical struggles or losses weigh on us. Not much will change these things.

Let’s shift our focus to the lesser wins for grounding. What did you “win at” this week? What small victory raised your spirits at least for a few minutes? For me, it was Sinclair and a cleared sewer main. What about you?

Share your small wins so we can celebrate them together. Small blessings are often missed. Let’s not miss them this week. Let’s raise them up and give thanks.

As the smaller wins ground us and fill us with gratitude and hope, we can then turn our attention back to the big things. The little victories can renew us so that we can engage with and cope with the big, hard, on-going situations in the world around us. A little renewal enables us to face the world and increases the likelihood that we will respond out of faith rather than fear, anger, or apathy.


About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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15 thoughts on “Highlighting the Small Wins Helps Balance the Chaos”

  1. Small in comparison to these huge and horrifying world situations, but: due to hail damage sustained last August, insurance covered the cost of a new roof, and an amazing team of workers came this past Tuesday and did the job–perfectly–in one day. At the same time, as coincidence would have it, our long-imagined project of replacing our old, single-car, 1929 garage got under way. And by Tuesday morning (yes, this same week), the old structure was down and the plot cleared away. The guy who did the demolition and clearing–Gary–was a wizard with a backhoe.

    The things one ends up being grateful for! But thanks be to God for community, and gifted workers who do hard labor I should no longer do.

  2. My life has been out of balance for quite some time and in an effort to improve this, I told myself I would read books that have been on the list in my head. Last Saturday I read “stranger in the lifeboat” by Mitch Albom and was not disappointed. “God starts things; man stops them”; I always find something in his material that I can “go to” to encourage and motivate me and remind me we are all connected.

  3. My legs can barely walk a block but with my trusty recumbent trike I can go four sometimes five miles.
    Black dog road bike trail is my place to go. This is a small win for me which often feels like a BIG win.
    The Minnesota River borders the trail on one side while Black Dog Lake with its observation deck is on the other side. Yesterday I heard and saw about 50 Canadian Geese heading toward its landing strip and overnight stay.

  4. I love the small simple wins…more tomatoes, parsley, and basil from my garden producing 2 quarts of spaghetti sauce. Planting 5 bouquets of daffodil for more simple joys in the spring. Laughter and prancing feet of 3 grandchildren all together. All of these, plus more makes my soul smile.

  5. I’m working on my Dad’s estate, and I realize it may be a year-long project. I reached a milestone on Tuesday. It’s a moment of celebration (got something done!) but also of sadness.

    • Holly, I find that the small wins are tinged with other emotions, especially when grief is involved. Take care of yourself and try to be gentle as you move through the coming days and months.


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