Enjoying the Ordinary
Everybody’s working for the weekend... Or everybody’s working for a vacation or the next big something. I was never aware of how much time I spent looking forward to the next big event or Friday night out on the town until I met someone whose life seemed to be all about the next big thing. She was a very unhappy person, despite leading a great life surrounded by people who loved her. Her focus was always on the upcoming thing to make her happy which, of course, never lived up to her expectations. Knowing such a miserable person caused me to stop and take a good look at my own life. When I found myself also putting too much stock on the next big event, I stopped and started to learn how to cherish the everyday. As a result, I started to enjoy the small, ordinary things more profoundly. Around this time, I had the opportunity to hear Luci Swindoll speak, and she shared about her adventure to Antarctica. She is a photographer, and one day during her trip, she had asked God to send a whale her way so she could photograph it, and she just knew she was going see one. Her expectations for the big event were high, but toward the end of her trip, she was left wondering why she hadn't seen a whale. In the midst of being sad because she wanted to see that beautiful, epic creation of God, she noticed a couple penguins, nearby, on a glacier. Then she noticed more and more penguins. There were actually hundreds of them, playing and performing as if they had been waiting for her to come! In that moment, she felt God speak to her heart: she had been so busy looking for the whale, she almost missed the penguins... Hearing this reminded me even more deeply that it is in the beautifully small details of life that God can so often blow us away. As I continued to learn to appreciate the small details of everyday life, another interesting thing happened: I stopped enjoying the big events like I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for them, but I also have a blast dressing up as Snow White and taking the girls I nanny out to get cupcakes. And even though I’m so excited I soon get to head to the beach for a few days of reading and napping in the sun, I’m also excited to have a laid-back dinner with some girlfriends next weekend. There is a beautiful peace that comes when we start to enjoy the ordinary things in life.
Laughing with your friends on a Tuesday night... Enjoying a spring breeze while sitting on your porch swing watching The Blacklist on your phone... A hug... I often share the impact the work of Brene Brown, vulnerability and shame research professor, has had on my life. In her book Daring Greatly she speaks of the “shame-based fear of being ordinary.” She describes “the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.” This made me think of my friend from many years ago and how the everyday was never good enough for her. I pray she has learned to enjoy the daily things in life (we didn’t stay friends because it’s hard to have miserable people in your life for too long), and I am so thankful that she got me thinking about, and ultimately embracing, the ordinary things in life. It’s in thankfulness for the daily things that I have found so much contentment. When we don’t focus on what’s missing in our lives but instead express gratitude and live in the beautiful moments of the ordinary, it is easier to live life wholeheartedly. Practicing gratitude helps us prepare to deal with the storms that come our way by keeping our mindset focused on what we have rather than what we think we’re missing. Thinking of the possible enjoyment just waiting to be found in the ordinary, have you fallen for the lie that it waits only in the weekends or the big events? What’s the ordinary in your life that has the potential to for you to find contentment in enjoying?