People are having a more difficult time these days making day-to-day decisions, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal (I think). Over 30% of our general population – and well over 40% of families with children at home – are finding that “routine” decisions are no longer routine. They thus often find themselves stymied on a day-to-day basis.
“What should we eat for dinner tonight?” “This is Friday – what are we going to do tonight?” “It’s Sunday already? Should we go to church?” When we are stymied, we end up staying home all weekend, and eating either junk food or fast food (not much difference, health wise) for dinner way too often.
When I hear a report like this, the first thing I do is thank God for giving me Monica, for, without her, the previous paragraph would be a description of me. However, this precious gift of God to me, every weekend, asks, “So, what shall our menu this coming week be?” We then – I should say “she” (for my contributions are VERY limited) – plan our meals for the week as we review our schedules (including the plans for the next weekend). The conversation ends by reviewing what we have on hand, and then making a grocery shopping list. The finishing touch is scheduling a shopping trip – and actually doing it (occasionally with me tagging along).
Of course, these are some of the last things I want to do … discuss menus on a Friday night or Saturday … go shopping after a football game! But my or my, how much easier and smoother life goes because of these ordinary (common place, normal course-of-life) things! By separating them from day-to-day decisions and making them planned activities, life goes from roller-coaster to Amtrak. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule – weeks that are not ordinary.
What do you call something that is outside of the ordinary? Answer: extraordinary (remarkable … exceptional … amazing … astonishing … marvelous … wonderful … sensational … stunning … incredible … phenomenal … bizarre)! Of course, to be truly extraordinary something has to be unusual. In other words, there needs to be a “usual” … a (preferably healthy) “ordinary”.
There are many other “ordinary” Monica-guided routines in our home. Monday is cleaning day (it used to be Saturday, then Friday, then Thursday, then … – but that is another story). Then there is laundry time … and the towel routine. Now, before you start to think, “Sounds stifling” I will tell you it is the exact opposite. It frees us to live an “extraordinary” life … filled with peace … joy … opportunities … and much more.
Are we 100% successful? Of course not! Have things been easy from day one – 45 years ago? Don’t let me kid you. Are they always easy now? I think you know the answer. But in the middle – serving as both a uniting force and a buffer – is the one who each and every day says to us, “I love you. I forgive you. You are mine.” And his words to us keep us saying those same words to each other.
I am sure you have heard the words read at a wedding. I am here to say they are true. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For, if they fall, one will lift his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4.9-12)
That third strand – Jesus – makes all the difference in the world. It helps us figure out our “ordinary” (which may be very different from yours), and smile through the extraordinary – even when it is extremely bizarre. Keeping Christ – his Word, prayer, his body, the church – as an ordinary part of our day-to-day lives, makes it much easier for us to see the extraordinary blessings he is granting us on a regular basis.
And that makes it both ordinary and extraordinary to say every day, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103.1-2) You will have to read the rest of that psalm to see what else is “ordinary” in the life of one with faith in Jesus.