Exceptional in the Ordinary

I often wake up in the morning, staring at another 24 hours of my day-in, day-out life, and think, “I am not qualified for this. I’m not good enough. Someone else would do a much better job.” I always have good intentions in the early mornings—I want to be the good wife, mother, and friend I need to be—but it seems like something always happens to throw off even my best intentions. I end up getting frustrated with the kids or I bark out an unkind word to my husband or I pretend not to see a need because it’s not convenient for me to meet it. The weight of all I don’t do—all the things I leave undone—weighs heavily on my shoulders. I wonder why I can’t be more like other people who seem to be able to walk through the difficult parts of life without raising their voices or getting flustered. Here I am, flailing and gnashing my teeth and it’s only 9 am!

My initial reaction to feeling like I’m lacking is to gird myself up: I will try harder, I will be better, I will hold my tongue, I will be good! But guess what? That only leaves me feeling empty, dried out, used up. It’s exhausting, really. Priorities get messed up, lines get crossed, and I realize instead of becoming more like the person I want to be, I’m going in the opposite direction.

Then I read an entry in Oswald Chambers’ My Upmost for His Highest: “[It requires] the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.” Then he says this: “It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people.”

Those words freed me from my own tight hands around my life. Trying to be better on my own might was never going to get me very far, but it’s an easy trap to fall into—thinking we can just make ourselves be better. I know God’s grace is sufficient—I know all the right verses—but the thought that not only is God’s grace enough, but it is required to get through the hours in a day was like the proverbial lightbulb going off in my mind. I have to have this grace to wade through both the drudgery and beauty of this life—and lucky for me, God gives me as much as I need. I can depend on him—cast my needs and cares on him and expect him to give me exactly what he knows I need to not just get through the day, but to live every hour of my day. Even to be exceptional—but without the pressure of being exceptional as the world sees it. Instead, being exceptional in the ordinary. Holy in the drudgery. Expecting beautiful things in ordinary, routine days.

-Lauren Denton

We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises—human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people.- Oswald Chambers