Our new column featuring readers' 'small stories'

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
– Phil 4.8

In a world teeming with good stories, so-called ‘small stories’ can sometimes be overlooked. Pushed out by breaking or bad news, the drama of high profile people and global tragedies, small stories often don’t make the media’s publishing cut.

At Eternity, we try really hard to be different. We aim to tell the good news stories of what God is doing around the world, regardless of how well-known the subject is and how many people are being affected.

We work hard to make Eternity a publication where, on any given day, you will find a great mix of content – from the faith story of an everyday Christian, to an interview with a respected figurehead, to a feature about an overseas missionary or aid worker, to a theological reflection by a scholar.

If you have a small story – a story of something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy – we would love to read it.

Today, we are adding another strand to the mix: a new column called ‘Three Small Things’ that will feature the ‘small stories’ of you – our readers.

Every Friday afternoon, we plan to publish three small stories which Eternity readers have submitted.

These small stories might be something lovely a reader has stumbled across on social media. Or, it might share a random act of kindness received that week. It might even recall a moment of spiritual clarity from years ago.

They will be the stories you have already shared with your spouse, your Bible study group and your Facebook friends – but just know they would encourage others.

Some might be written with the flair of an experienced creative writer. Others will be told simply by a plain-spoken contributor. Either is welcome – we seek substance over style on this one.

As an example, I am pleased to share my own favourite, small story – one I’ve had filed away in the old memory for a decade or more now. It is the story of Matty’s grandma.

Years ago, my workmate Matty’s grandmother passed away. He was close to her and felt her loss deeply, so as a staff team, we went to the funeral to show our respect and support.

I can’t remember much about the formal part of the service, to be honest. I don’t know if Matty spoke or what else was said. But what I do remember is that as the service drew to a close, the minister invited anyone who would like to share their own memories of Matty’s grandma to do so.

People who had been touched by Matty’s grandma’s life stood to their feet to pay tribute to her kindness.

It’s always risky for a minister to open up the floor, and I can recall holding my breath for a moment as I waited to see if anyone would take the minister up on his invitation.

I did not have to wait long.

One after another, people stood to their feet to pay tribute to Matty’s grandma’s kindness.

They told small stories of their interactions with her – how she had shown them love and kindness. There were more than a few references to her baking someone a pie. My heart swelled – I love baking pie. I could do pie!

Towards the end, one woman stood to her feet awkwardly. She was clearly not someone who wanted to be in a situation where all eyes were upon her. No doubt she had been internally wrestling with the desire to say something while others had taken their turn. But she had determined to share her experience, too.

The woman introduced herself: she was Matty’s grandma’s neighbour. And then she said a sentence that would somehow become lodged in my brain so firmly that it would remain there as the years passed.

“After my husband died, of an evening, she would bring a meal over to make sure I ate something,” the woman said.

I was a young, working mum whose life was feeling very busy and who desperately wanted to serve God well – if only I could figure out how and when. As is often the case at funerals, the service had challenged me to think about the kind of legacy I wanted to leave. But it all felt a bit overwhelming.

But here, standing before me, this reluctant neighbour provided a simple insight that cut through my internal noise. The goal was not to die with a list of accomplishments and awards but with a neighbour who could say you made sure they ate dinner during their darkest days.

I wanted to serve God as Matty’s grandma did. I have wanted to serve God like Matty’s grandma did since that day.

 

If you have a small story – a story of something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy – we would love to read it. We may not be able to publish all submissions received but will do our best.

Go to our submissions page here and just include a note to say it is a ‘small story’ submission.