I knew it was coming and I nervously wondered how it would play out for our newly churched family. It’s Ordinary Time. Lent and Easter ended. Our daughter’s Baptism is over. Though the gardens are exploding with bright Spring colours, the air nips our noses and bare arms. It’s too cold for Summer fun.We tend to prioritise the extraordinary. We look forward to the next celebration. We focus on the bright splash of colour in the ordinary landscape. We neglect the everyday as if it is just a precursor to something better; a time to plan for the next great thing. We like to frame ourselves in grandeur, wherever we can find it, because we fail to celebrate the greatness of God in our ordinary days.
As a stay-at-home Mom, I know about ordinary. Feeding, clothing, and washing little people is so ordinary. I scold my child for ordinary things hundreds of times in a day. I stand back and watch the ordinary work and moods of my family, smoothing their way when I can. Let’s face it, family life isn’t grand. It’s small. It’s exhausting, exasperating and often gross!
We forget, as we cut the crusts off of the day’s third peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that great things are being done through us in these ordinary days. We are serving God’s little ones. We are conduits of His love. We are teaching our children about faith, perseverance and patience every day that we get out of bed to love, serve, forgive and wait. It’s extraordinarily important and difficult work. All of us experience hopelessness or feel unappreciated, especially on these ordinary days. We need to remember what an honour it is that God entrusted us with our families.
My child is ordinary, too. She’s angry, messy, and stubborn. It isn’t all birthdays and trips to the zoo, either. On top of the normal checkups we ended up visiting the sleep dentist and the psychologist, too. Being Juniper’s mother has been a challenge for me. I’m a private, prideful person. I don’t like being told that I’m wrong. I’m also anxious. I avoid conflict and I was really hoping for a perfectly healthy child, so that my interactions with medical professionals would be minimal. I’ve learned so much since becoming a parent. First, I learned to stand my ground and have faith that things will turn out as God intended. Then, I learned to ask for help when I needed it, but also to take what I needed and leave the rest. I’m sure that I have much more growing to do. My child is perfect in her imperfection, and the perfect teacher for me.
So, ordinary living is a challenging and fruitful vocation and we are honoured that God, in his grace, bestowed this mission upon us. Right?
So…Isn’t it tempting to imagine the rewards? We imagine successful, healthy adults who call often and have big families of their own. We see ourselves gracefully aging, benefiting from our hard learned lessons and surrounded by family. We expect to celebrate. If we don’t get to celebrate these things are we able to see that the real gifts were the ordinary times?