By Captain Jessica Stevens
Family Care Director – College For Officer Training
It’s back-to-school season, and like many moms and caregivers, I feel like my life is being overrun by to-do lists. With two kids in two different schools, a dog, and two cats my days are filled with mundane and ordinary moments. School supply lists, first day of school outfits, extracurricular activity registration, and annual medical and dental appointments all fall (mom pun intended) into the month of September.
These are the days, and this is the SEASON OF THE VERY ORDINARY.
Now, as a kid, I dreamt of being an adult. I pictured being a Grown Up Lady that stayed up as late as I wanted, wore fancy shoes, and, delight of delights: ate at the restaurant of my choosing for dinner. Actual adulthood looks very different than my childhood imaginings. Sometimes I feel a little like Bill Murphy in Groundhog Day: every day looks very similar to the one before.
- Alarm: 6 am
- Take dog out, pour cup of coffee, complete Wordle
- Devotions/breakfast prep/make school lunches
- Morning routine/put in a load of laundry/remind kids to wear deodorant
- Pack backpacks, computer bags, purse, lunches, water bottles, to go coffee into the van
- 8:00 am depart
- Work, make dinner, do dishes, coral kids for chores, check homework
- Sweep floors, listen to 67 stories about Roblux, remind kids to shower, argue about reading, take out the dog
- Start bedtime routine, program coffeemaker, fold laundry, read to kiddos
Repeat ad nauseum.
I know I’m not alone in this. Friends and sisters and aunties share similar stories of fatigue and emotional labor. Meme after meme tells the story of frazzled women hanging on by their threadbare leggings.
As a girl, I read Bible stories about David fighting Goliath, Esther saving her people, Paul preaching to the crowds, and Miriam singing songs of freedom. I dreamt of lofty things, and now I’m folding socks and jeans.
A few years ago I realized I was sorting my prayer concerns the way I sort laundry. I had a mental basket of “big” things I was consistently bringing to the feet of Jesus: school issues, family rifts, medical diagnoses, etc. But smaller, more ordinary concerns were being left out. While in my head I knew that God in His goodness cared about all my cares; in practice, I was filtering my prayers. I was weeding out the ordinary concerns of my life: math homework, sibling disagreements, my own weaknesses and fatigue.
But Scripture is full of the ordinary. Of course, as a child, I loved the adventure stories. Deborah, Esther, Ruth – what girl wouldn’t love these tails? These biblical heroines provide examples of strength, courage, faith and grit and are dear to me still. But in this Very Ordinary season, I see the Spirit just as much in other, less glamorous verses.
The oft-quoted Romans 12:1, paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in the Message reminds us “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.” In this season, 90% of my life is sleeping, eating, going to work/school, and walking around; of course the God of my heart is present in these moments and in this season.
From Genesis to Revelation, from ancient times to today, if we look closely we can see a God who cares deeply for us and our small, human concerns. The God Who Came Near shows us this in Scripture: look close – you’ll see it, too. Don’t believe me? Read Leviticus. God cared so deeply for his people Israel he was very specific about their safety, worship, planting, livestock, meals and so much more.
We have only to spend a little time in the Gospels to see this in the character of Jesus himself: his stories are full of human concerns, lost coins, lost children, seeds and shallow soil. We frequently see him eating communal meals and going to people’s homes. Do we think he lived a human life and didn’t have human concerns or ordinary days?
We don’t sort have to sort our prayer concerns like laundry. If it’s on our minds or hearts, silly or serious, we can bring it to the Gentle Father. We can look through the whole of Scripture and see the love of our God in the ordinary and in the adventure. We can be like Deborah; speaking frank truth. We can be like Esther, listening to the Spirit and knocking on doors that aren’t open to us. We can be like Ruth, providing for our families and loving loyally. And in every single moment, we can lay our ordinary, sleeping, walking, going to work lives before the feet of Jesus.