I think we can all agree that atoms are very, very tiny. But they illustrate the power of an extremely small change. Chlorine is a deadly poison gas. But add an atom of sodium and it becomes table salt, a vital nutrient. Science is filled with examples of miniscule atoms making all the difference.
It’s like that in our lives, too. Sometimes just doing one very small thing can have a huge impact.
A friend of mine, Nan Slaughter, in the Sammamish Valley Washington Stake, told me their senior Seminary kids meet one evening every week and love it. They even bring their friends. “Last year the seniors had 3 baptisms and this new group of seniors has 12 members and 6 non-members who come weekly. Last week we had 20 kids and one of them asked for a blessing and to learn more.” She makes phenomenal desserts for them to enjoy, which starts the ball rolling. When I commended her on this she said, “There is magic going on here for sure and I have nothing to do with it, I just bake and take!” It’s a small thing, but makes a gigantic difference to the youth.
For years I attended Institute classes and our teacher, now Elder Paul H. Watkins of the Seventy, would ask us after each General Conference if we noticed any themes that stood out. Even after adult Institute classes were no longer taught, I would look for common threads in the talks. And this last October I noticed small things.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke of people getting lost, and how “small acts can lead us back.” Elder Gary E. Stephenson said small things bring to pass great things, and told four stories to illustrate. Elder Christoffel Golden, Jr. of the Seventy, quoted Alma 37:6-7 (“…by small and simple things are great things brought to pass”) and spoke of the joy we can experience with every small step we take.
Elder Michael A. Dunn of the Seventy talked about a British bicycle team that had huge success, just by tackling one thing and getting 1 percent better each day. If we do this, he said that at the end of a year you’ll be 37% better. “Micro betterments work,” he said.
General Conference speakers are inspired and prepare for months to give us messages they’ve received personal revelation about. Maybe God wants us to realize that our tasks and goals need not be huge and intimidating. When we break them into small increments, we can accomplish amazing things. Think of your struggles in the areas of self-improvement and family harmony. Think of the spiritual progress you’d like to make, the scripture reading and temple attendance you’d like to improve. You may even have a particular sin you’re struggling with—one tiny bit of effort could be the turning point.
Are you one of the millions of people worldwide who’d like to eat a healthier diet? Why not make a tiny resolve today? Too many people fail because they try to attempt nearly impossible changes. What if you just began with something small—eating on a saucer instead of a dinner plate. Putting your fork down between bites. Drinking more water. It doesn’t have to be an overnight miracle; you just have to take one tiny step at a time, in the right direction.
Are you concerned about society, politics, escalating hostility? Write one letter to your representative. Attend just one city council meeting, a school PTA meeting, a rally, or a grass-roots gathering in a friend’s home. Maybe you’ll be the one to host it. Your one voice could make a difference.
In less than a month we’ll be hearing it’s time to set New Year’s Resolutions. What if we got a jump on things and started now? By January we’ll have built some momentum and made surprising strides. This isn’t something that has to be dictated by the calendar; we can choose to improve at any time.
Above all, involve your Savior. He wants to help us with every righteous desire and can give us encouragement and inspiration, even open our minds to ideas we haven’t considered. Pray about your plans and draw upon His strength.
Elder David A. Bednar once said, “Ordinary people who consistently do small and simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.”
And let’s never forget that one small scripture (James 1:5), read by a 14-year-old farm boy, led to the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! Small things truly can bring about great things. Put it to the test.
Hilton’s book, A Little Christmas Prayer, is the perfect Christmas gift. Sometimes it takes a child to raise a village, and this tale teaches anyone, of any faith, the magic of gratitude. All her books and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website.