Small Success Thursday, Shoveling Away At Living a Life of Grace


Small Success ThursdaySeventeen inches of white stuff meant we had multiple school closed snow days. It took three teams of three five hours of rotating shoveling to clear our way to the street, only to have to redo it the next day when just a little bit more fell. Despite the next day’s achiness, I loved having the slow mornings, the whole family eating dinner together every night, and the luxury of what felt like five Sundays in a row. But just as the snow eventually melted, reality returned with schedules, homework and petty annoyances.

Now I listen to Catholic radio in the morning, it is part of my routine. While charging everyone to get out the door, I caught the tail end of a conversation about redemptive suffering before snapping off the machine to let everyone know, “Time to go.” With everyone loaded, backpacks, band instruments, lunch bags and donuts for a belated Valentine party, I got to the car and the car would not go.

Fortunately my husband had returned and quickly loaded his car with the school bound kids while I dealt with calling our mechanic. Up until that moment when the van did not cooperate, it had been a great morning but in that fit of temper, I told the man over the phone how bad the day was. I immediately regretted my words, for they weren’t really true, it was a bad moment. “You’re struggling, not suffering.” I told myself and wondered if there were such a thing as redemptive struggling for venial sins.

The rest of the day, little things went wrong. Nothing major, nothing to really complain about. Splinters, momentary messes, spilt milk, the door not quite shutting but it affected my mood. My slow road to sainthood is marred by my visceral intolerance of the inconvenient.

Put out, I shouted to the universe, (to God really), “This better be redemptive struggling!” and like the very real relief I felt when I got the splinter out of my foot, I felt the burden of petty annoyances lifted. White martyrdom sanctification one splinter, one nuisance at a time. Sort of like shoveling a really long driveway covered with snow. You just keep at it until the whole thing is clear.

Small successes are those moments when the yoke is lifted, when we recognize a gift, when we submit to those moments we can’t but endure and hopefully endure graciously and with some grace as well.

This week’s small successes include:

1) My son scored 4 times in a playoff basketball game, and they were clutch scores that tied or retied or resulted in taking the lead. They won that game, only to lose the next day. But his game ranks in our family as one of the greatest athletic moments we’ve witnessed as parents.

2) Two of my daughters asked me to play Mario Go Cart with them. I had the remote upside down and drove in the mall track backwards and came in 12th, but they loved playing and having me play. I’m glad they asked, I’m also really glad I didn’t refuse.

3) Adoration keeps bringing fruit, private fruit I can see, fruit I can’t share, but I know, it is because of visiting more. I made it this week myself. I’m thinking of making this a Lenten commitment, because I want this to be more.

Now it’s your turn.


About Author

Sherry Antonetti is a mother of ten children, published author of The Book of Helen and a freelance writer of humor and family life columns. You can read additional pieces from her blog,


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  2. Sherry, I really like how you pondered aloud, “Is there such thing as redemptive suffering/struggling for venial sins?” I think there is, but that is a very novel perspective of how we can offer up ALL to God, whether they are minor irritations or major crosses!

  3. Oh girl. I wish I didn’t know those moments. They are such small moments and we make such a big deal of them. WHY!!!
    I, too, love how you put it and I think that the answer is yes – there is redemptive suffering. It’s LIFE! And, from where I sit, you do a great job at yours.

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