Since most of my life is marked by the mundane, it has been my quest for some time now to find purpose, joy and even glory in it. Though I fail miserably more often than I would like to admit, I feel that it is vital to pick myself up, refocus my life and try again while leaning continually on God’s forgiving and empowering grace. There is a tendency for people, myself included, to see the ordinary as something to be tolerated at best while they wait in anxious expectation for something better and more fulfilling to come along. I, for one, find this to be a most miserable experience. Even when something exciting and wonderful comes along, it will eventually pass or its newness will grow old and the accompanying excitement will fade.
Take vacation for example: You plan most of the year for it and anticipation arises at it approaches. During travel to the long awaited destination your imagination is busy with the upcoming blissfulness of it all. It comes, it goes and you return home. How do you feel? Pretty down, huh?
Or maybe you’re building your dream home or expecting a new baby. These things bring great and wonderful highs to our lives, but they are also unavoidably followed by lows. Some of the youth at our church are planning for an exciting camp experience and our children just returned from one. The youth are experiencing an increasing emotional high, which has yet to climax, and our children are probably experiencing some level of post camp blues. This is a normal thing. We are not created to live at constant elevated levels of adrenaline and excitement. The lowering process is necessary and can be a good thing as long as it is expected.
The problem arises when, like an addict, you rely on outside sources to feel alive. When we live for the next weekend, relationship, or promotion, for our kids to grow up or for retirement or any other event, then we rob ourselves of the joy of the ordinary. If we say to ourselves, “I will be happy when…” we have a poor existence depending on outward circumstances for satisfaction. Why not break free from such tiring methods?
I am greatly disturbed when I think that most of the precious few moments of my life could be spent waiting for the next in dismal discontent. That is why it is my quest to embrace the mundane as very beautiful and each day as God-given. Every day is given for a great purpose and how shallow it would be for me to waste it away looking beyond it for something more sparkling and inviting. I, like anyone, enjoy the peaks of life and we were meant to, but we should equally enjoy the hidden treasures of the predictable. God is in the mundane as much as he is in the spectacular and he desires for us to acknowledge his existence there.
There was a seventeenth-century monk named Brother Lawrence whose chief desire was to practice God’s presence in everyday life. Gary Thomas, in his devotional, “Sacred Parenting”, gives a little insight into Brother Lawrence’s life:
Over time “[Brother Lawrence] was more united to God in ordinary activities than when he devoted himself to religious activities. Indeed, he found that “the best way of reaching God was by doing ordinary tasks…entirely for the love of God.” In Brother Lawrence’s mind, prayer was not quantifiably different than peeling potatoes.
Such an attitude infuses the mundane with the profound: “We should not weary of doing little things for the love of God who looks not at the grandeur of these actions but rather at the love with which they are performed.”
In this light, changing diapers and trying to keep up with a 3 year old are transformed into highly important tasks. In this light, I do not have to dread day-to-day tasks. Instead I can wake tomorrow to a gloriously normal day if I choose to make the moments contained within it opportunities to love God. Loving God in ordinary ways can make every predictable day profound and precious.
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