I hate how fast June goes. It seems like summer is just getting started, and then you start thinking about 4th of July plans, and BOOM! Summer is one third over.
Perhaps I especially feel it as a working adult. When your job is year-round, work goes on despite the nicer weather. I see teacher friends on well-deserved summer breaks, and I count down the days until I finally get to use my vacation days.
We yearn to escape the ordinary. See, taste, feel, experience something new.
I am beyond excited to be going to Europe this summer.
This need for change can be good. Moving is necessary for life. We move our bodies to keep them healthy, and we move our minds to learn and grow, in order to then teach others and keep the wheel going. When we stop learning about each other, discovering new things, sharing what matters, society collapses. So I believe moving our location is naturally a wonderful way to progress.
Getting out of our ordinary comfort zones is scary, but so good for us. We realize what more is out there. How other people live. What they think and believe. How to get through daily life in another place.
Learning about someone else’s ordinary life is one of my favorite things about traveling. I want to know how they get around, go to work and school, what they eat, what is of importance to them. The things they do every day shows what they value. And this doesn’t just have to be for big travel abroad.
If I came to stay with you, what would I find out that you value? Family? TV? Money? Bible study? Stuff? Learning? Exercise? Food?
Where you spend your time and money shows what you care about.
Are you using it in the right place this summer? Does your ordinary reflect what you want it to?
Five years ago, I came back from an amazing semester studying abroad in England, and I was suddenly lost. The world had been opened to me, and I was afraid of going back to my ordinary American box. I didn’t know what there was to value about my situation, living back with my parents, leaving new friends thousands of miles away.
I had to rebuild my life. I knew I couldn’t stay away forever (though I definitely considered just about every option from grad school to working holiday visas). I dramatically entered what I proclaimed my “Commit to America” phase.
What did I value in my daily life?
I lived at home with my parents. I was grateful for family that cared for me enough to let me go and to return. They waited patiently for my adjustment to get easier and my attitude towards the ordinary to soften.
I cherished going back to my church where people believed what I did. I was glad to have learned what’s out in the world but was thankful I had solid ground to come back to. I loved singing with the worship band again and bonding with new friends in a small bible study group.
I eventually got a job and an apartment and made my own home. Now I am in love with this ordinary. I know what matters to me. Faith. Family. A little exploration now and then.
But no matter how much I arrange my earthly home and become content in my ordinary life, there is yet a bigger picture.
This life is not about what we did to make us happy or accepting of our little lives.
Many of those little everyday life things are in preparation for that life to come. Prayers with the kids. Going to church. Singing Jesus songs. Family meals. A million little things go into raising a family who loves their Savior, and for parents, that’s the best thing they can do with their time.
For those of us without children, we can still share our lives with others and show them with our lives and words what truly matters. Passing on our faith is the one thing that so desperately needs to become ordinary in our lives, no matter where we go.
This last weekend, my extended family all got together to celebrate my grandma’s 80th birthday. We stayed at her house and didn’t really do anything that out of the ordinary. We ate, drank, talked, played yard games outside, watched little kids, and just soaked in being together.
But the moments that meant the most were praying together before meals and going to church on Sunday. How special to see four generations taking up two pews and following each other in a long line up to communion.
This is the ordinary that has lasted decades in our blessed family, and it’s what we pray will continue.
Free time, trips, and TV are fun, but won’t matter in eternity. What matters is who gets to join you there. And I enjoy getting just a slice of that here and now with my Christian family and friends.
Heaven will be better than your most relaxing day, be more worthwhile than your most productive day, last longer than the vacation you never wanted to end, be prettier than the most awe-inspiring view on the planet, and be filled with people you love finally in their perfect forms praising a perfect God.
I think God’s family will take up more than two pews.