“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23
Excitement. Meaningful, heart-touching conversations. Beautiful, deep relationships. Financial success. Ministry that reaches hearts and changes lives. Vibrant health. Relaxing, rewarding, purposeful, carefully-curated, stress and worry-free lives.
That’s what we all crave, isn’t it?
Instead, we discover that day-to-day reality is not exciting (at least not in a desirable way). We often find ourselves embroiled in difficult conversations, messy relationships, too-much-month-at-the-end-of-the-money. We are either searching to find meaningful ministry or horrified by the results (or lack thereof). We have health struggles, water leaks, unpaid bills, toilets that need scrubbing, dishes that need washing, cars that break down, people who need to be fed repeatedly (every. single. day.) Date nights that go sadly awry, vacations that fall far short of our lofty family bonding goals…what were we thinking? And the laundry…what is that stain? And what about these clothes: did someone actually wear them, or simply gather them and toss into the laundry basket? You spent how much money on groceries? Have you finished your chores yet?
Life is Lived in the Mundane.
People require clothing, shelter, food, medicine. Intentional, sacrificial, unconditional, sometimes tough love. The house will get messy and demand attention. Clothing gets dirty. Over and over and over again. The bills must be paid, the food purchased, put away, prepared, served. Children–and adults–will squabble over differences of opinion and intentional or perceived slights. Someone must wash the dishes.
People are going to get sick. That means someone will have to disrupt their life to insure that doctor visits and pharmacy runs happen. It means that all sorts of extra mundane tasks will be added to your life: someone has to stay home with sick children, someone will need to step in and pick up dropped tasks the afflicted person is unable to undertake.
How Can We Find Joy in the Middle of this Mundane Mess? When our tasks are unfulfilling and feel meaningless?
I’ve recently given this topic a great deal of thought as I’ve struggled with some discouragement. If you’ve been following my blog, you know January started with sizzle and fun, which quickly turned to a whimper. Week One left me playing catch up while wandering in a jet lag fog. Week Two started with a vicious stomach bug that felled me for two days and left me weak and coughing. Week Three began with mounting fever, debilitating body aches and a Flu diagnosis…which led into more and more coughing and started Week Four once again at the doctor, diagnosed with possible bronchitis and a severe asthma flare. My daily routine still includes steroids, antibiotics, cough medicines, and four breathing treatments per day. Welcome to 2018!
I’ve had time to do quite a lot of thinking. This has been almost a month of feeling useless. Not only have I been unable to take care of my people and my home, but I’ve spent days being incapable of caring for myself: people bringing meals and treats, my husband or son heating my soup and bringing it to me on the couch, people serving water and hot tea and reminding me to rest and drink and take my meds.
This inability to serve or work reminded me of something important.
The Mundane Mess? This is Where Life Happens.
When we’re earning a living, paying those pesky bills, clipping coupons, economizing and budgeting? That’s not mundane. That’s providing financial security for those we love.
When I scrub toilets, wash endless loads of laundry, vacuum, tidy up our living areas? That’s not drudgery. That’s creating a warm oasis for my family and friends, a place where we can connect and get on with the important business of feeling loved, welcome, safe, and a valued part of community.
All that meal planning? The inventory, list making, shopping, toting and unloading, cooking, serving, cleaning the kitchen up so I can do it all over again? Meaningless busy work? No! That’s nurturing my loved ones’ health and providing an anchor for their days and their memories. It’s providing a table where we build a lifetime of relationships, learn to have real discussions, begin to understand that there is another perspective than just mine. It’s encouraging a family identity, an appreciation for food and laughter relationships.
Mundane? Suddenly this seems like the most important work of life, doesn’t it?
One of my 2018 Goals is to have family dinner at the table, sharing a pot of tea, every night possible. This is where life happens. This is where relationships are built.
I’m consciously looking to bring more splashes of beauty into our home. Because home should be full of love, and joy and beauty.
Those messy relationships? The tumultuous vacations, the family dinners that erupt into arguments, the angry board game loser who slams the game pieces and bolts from the table? Do these mean we’ve failed? Or are they opportunities to model love, to show others how to disagree, or to lose with grace, or to build a relationship even when it isn’t all cupcakes and roses? Are they opportunities to peek into the heart of our loved ones and see their true needs, their weaknesses, their fears, their idols of the heart. Are they windows into our own wrong motives and desires?
Wow. That just got real, didn’t it?
This, then, is the secret of finding joy in the mundane. This is the Truth that I need to imprint into my heart:
The Messy. Disagreeable. Uncomfortable. Unending. The MUNDANE?
I find joy in the mundane when I realize that it Matters. It’s Important. This is where Real Life is lived. This is where Truth is imparted.
Oh, I have some lofty writing and blogging goals. I would love to have a ministry of encouragement, to feel I’m making a difference. I aspire to build a “successful” blog, one that is a blessing to my family financially. I dream of being a published author one day, maybe doing a bit of speaking.
But I’ll never do anything more important than nurturing these most precious relationships the Lord has given me. My family, my close friends. Being a faithful loving wife, mom, Grammy, daughter, sister, friend: that “mundane” day-to-day life…that’s what really matters.
Let’s go forth realizing that our work is important. Relevant. Meaningful. Purposeful. Noble.
And our faithfulness brings honor to God. It matters.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31
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The Life Giving Table by Sally Clarkson
A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot
Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George
Becoming a Woman of Influence by Carol Kent
Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp