Through God our lives can be extraordinary

By  Lisa Petsche
  • January 29, 2009
This time of year is a low point for some people. The festivities of the Christmas season are over, the lovely decorations have been packed away (ours not too long ago) and we’re back into the rhythm of everyday life. Resuming routines is a relief to some of us, but for others the predictability is monotonous.

All of us go through periods where life seems rather tedious. We may feel like we’re in a holding pattern, biding our time until something exciting happens. Perhaps we’re awaiting specific occurrences: the weekend, a vacation, the next season, our next raise, a new job, a birth or a milestone anniversary. But life goes on in the meantime, and we need to make the most of it.

Thankfully, in God our lives have meaning no matter what our roles and obligations. It’s a matter of perspective and intent.

I’m reminded of a passage in Clarence Enzler’s Everyone’s Way of the Cross, reflecting on the fifth Station (Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus): “Lord, make me realize that every time I wipe a dish, pick up an object from the floor, assist a child in some small task or give another preference in traffic or the store; each time I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, teach the ignorant or lend my hand in any way — it matters not to whom — my name is Simon. And the kindness I extend to them I really give to you.”

Underlying our discontent about the ordinariness of our days may be worry — fuelled by our achievement-oriented and celebrity-obsessed culture — that our lives are insignificant. It doesn’t help that parenting (especially full time), housework and many types of paid labour are undervalued in today’s society.

The truth is, though, we are all extraordinary, no two people alike. God created us in His image and has given us each special talents. But His kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36) and so we must resist the influence of the popular culture, which measures worth by appearance, assets and accomplishments.

Attempts to find fulfilment through worldly achievement result in spiritual poverty and are therefore doomed to fail. So rather than pray for success we should ask for faithfulness, to paraphrase Blessed Mother Teresa.

Human nature being what it is, though, it can be hard not to compare ourselves with peers, especially when all of us know some Supermoms or Superdads who run circles around us from a productivity standpoint. They organize family reunions and neighbourhood yard sales and workplace potlucks. They cook from scratch and walk the dog twice a day and bathe their kids every night and sit on school council and coach sports and chauffeur their kids to myriad activities and run a home-based business on the side.

But we may not see the full picture — that is, the shortcuts they’re taking (such as hiring a cleaning service) or compromises they’re making (perhaps skimping on sleep or spiritual nourishment) in order to accomplish so much.

In any case, we all have our own distinct combination of strengths, limitations and life circumstances that influence what we are able to do. For example, some of us are good at multi-tasking while others aren’t; some are challenged with physical or mental health problems (which may not be obvious); and some have flexible jobs or considerable extended family support while others do not.

It’s important to realize and respect that everyone’s situation is unique and not always what it appears to be.

We also must not forget, as we strive to be God’s faithful servants, that “love begins by taking care of the closest ones — the ones at home” (Mother Teresa). Meaning we shouldn’t be out in the world doing wonderful things at the expense of quality time with our spouse and children. Balance is key, and some service goals, however noble, may have to wait.

Finally, as we go about our often outwardly unremarkable but nonetheless vital daily tasks, especially those involving care of our home and family, let us keep in mind that, in the words of Mother Teresa, “It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”

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