Thursday, July 17, 2014

Unusually ordinary

The Hearts at Home link-up prompt today is "Loving your Ordinary," or something like that. This seems a perfect topic for me given the name of my blog and the number of times I've written about the topic. (Ordinary Times and Purpose in the Ordinary are two past posts from quite some time ago and you may not have seen them.) I actually wondered for a minute if I really had anything different to say after I went back and read those posts. They seem to pretty much cover it.

And then I got to thinking about some of the various comments I've heard over the past several years. Comments that would seem to imply that there is nothing ordinary about my life. There seems to be a tension there. Parts of my life seem terribly, terribly ordinary. I cook and go grocery shopping, do laundry, read stories to children, apply numerous band-aids, pick-up toys, pay bills, just like nearly every other mother around. It's not terribly exciting. Important, yes, but there's nothing spectacularly different about it from anyone else. I will agree the scale in which I do these things is bigger than some, but that's really just a matter of practice and habit. Anyone could learn to routinely triple a recipe or drive a 15-passenger van.

I also know, compared to most people, my life really is unusual. Our choices of being open to more than the normal number of children, our choice of how we educate them, voluntarily choosing to add children with special needs, practicing extreme hospitality... these mark us as different. What soon becomes ordinary to us, remains a rather baffling mystery to those who don't know us.

I can't count the number of times I've heard, "I don't know how you do it!" My standard response is, "What do you think I'm doing? Because I'm pretty sure it's not what you think." Yes, if someone were to be dropped into my life as it is right now, it would be overwhelming if they hadn't had practice running a large family. It would gradually become easier, but it would be a steep learning curve at first. But we didn't just start here, it was a process. One decision led to another and each step a stretch, but not outside the realm of our imagination.

So where am I going with this? (Sometimes I'm not sure myself and I have to stop and think about it.) Most of life is filled with normal, everyday things, no matter your situation. We all need to eat, to have shelter, to care for our young. These are basics and people across the world do these things. They happen everyday over and over and over. We also quickly become accustomed to what we do a lot. Our brains are very good at creating habits; at making things automatic. Something may require work and effort and first, but over time, we stop having to think about it. When we look at someone living an unusual (to us) life, we forget that to them it is normal if they have been doing it for any length of time. What we often lack is imagination.

People entrenched in their own ordinary lack imagination as to what they are really capable of. It is this inability to imagine that something outrageous could ever become normal that, I think, stops many people from choosing a different, less ordinary path. It's what stops them from taking a chance. A chance on a child, on a different job, on a different living situation, on exhibiting outrageous love. What is your ordinary?

I don't know what your goal in life is, but mine is to make the practice of the outrageous love of Jesus my ordinary.

1 comment:

Jennifer Tyree said...

Great post! Stopping by from the blog hop.

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