Flourishing Story: Flourishing in the Ordinary Seasons
By Captain Jessica Stevens
Family Care Director – College For Officer Training
I am a creature of habit. I take the same route to work and to church every time I drive. My daily walk traverses the same route, I buy multiple pairs of the same jeans or Target t-shirts, and reread the same books over and over again (I see you on the shelf, Where the Crawdads Sing!). An introvert and homebody, when I fold my laundry, sip my mug of French Roast, or read to my son before bed I feel most at peace.
A few weeks ago, I discovered that after five years of nearly daily use my Birkenstocks needed replacing. I hunted through multiple department stores to find the same pair, to no avail. I finally caved in and bought a NEW style. I’m still getting used to them, and frankly, wish I could have found that same trusty pair of black Birks.
As a pragmatic box checker, a calendar keeping gal who also struggles with anxiety, my head does not get stuck in the clouds. My brain and my heart get stuck in the details and the plans and the to do’s. A few years ago, during a season of stress and significant personal and professional upheaval I became fixated on checking enough of the boxes, nailing down the plans, or finishing the to do list.
I was so focused on WHAT MUST GET DONE that my perspective became warped. Slowly but surely, my lens was limited, and spirit became closed off from connection. I was so wrapped up in what was on my plate, or my calendar that I began to miss moments where I was needed.
I began to resent the things that used to bring me joy. Because was my heart was focused only on temporal tasks, I found them feeling like drudgery. As I bogged myself down with duty, my joy swiftly exited stage right. Resentment brewed stronger than my morning cup of joe.
As He has so many times throughout my life, the Spirit lifted my eyes and gave me a new perspective through the very ordinary routine I went through each morning. Coffee? Check. Chair? Check. Scripture? Check.
But this morning in particular, my heart was tender. My head ached from too little sleep, and my thumb was cramped from too much social media scrolling. (Ok, not really or actually. 12) I felt hollowed out, because I’d been distracted by the shiny promise of approval from others.
My Bible fell open to the words of Jesus in Luke 12: “Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.” (Luke 12:24, The Message)
Free. Unfettered. Carefree. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt any of those feelings.
I’d been dragging duty around, depending on myself rather than on my Savior. So, on a weekday morning before work, I paused the productivity train. I felt the presence and peace of the Spirit reminding me “You count far more.” Not because of my achievements or calendar commitments, but because of Jesus. Because of his love, his grace, his peace, his forgiveness: I can be “carefree in the care of God.”
I’m still a box checker, and a sucker for a good planner or calendar. But I’ve been able to refocus. What matters most for me, is the people behind the productivity. When I remember who is behind my tasks, what relationships and people are behind my ordinary obligations they become sacred. Paul reminds me in Romans that all of my life is to be an offering before the Lord, and that when all of it is surrendered to Christ, each boring bit, maturity will result. “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” (Romans 12:1, The Message) I have so far to grow, but I remain thankful that the peace and presence of Christ go with me on each ordinarily beautiful day.