Today I watched “The Last Jedi” with my boys. I love watching hero movies. It is fun and exciting to watch people, even fictional people, overcome great obstacles and achieve amazing things. I cheer for them to be heroic.
But we don’t praise the boring, mundane, and ordinary.
We don’t typically write New York Times best sellers or Blockbuster movies about the mundane. I get why. We want excitement in our entertainment. We don’t usually make heroes of the ordinary. Who wants to hear a story about a person getting up grabbing some breakfast, doing his/her work, coming home and spending some time with family and friends, then going to bed to rest up to do the same thing the next day Not many people want to hear that story over and over. We praise and glorify the extraordinary.
But such moments are called extraordinary because they aren’t ordinary.
The ordinary is what most of us do 99.99% of the time and therefore it is who we are 99.99% of the time. We fix a meal that we have had many times before. We say “hi” to our friends and families as we have done many times before. We cut our grass, shovel the snow off our driveways, walk down the stairs of our apartment buildings, buy our groceries, walk our dogs, feed our cats, pay our electric bills, and do all sorts of ordinary things during the majority of our lives. Acting like such mundane tasks aren’t very important, even though they make up the majority of our lives. So we praise and glorify the extraordinary.
We don’t lionize the ordinary because it doesn’t make for an exciting story, and I believe more importantly, because if we praised the ordinary, then we would suddenly have to hold ourselves accountable for whether or not our ordinary lives are praiseworthy. Not many of us have a chance to live a heroic moment, but all of us have the chance to choose whether to live our regularly daily lives in a heroic manner or not. Sometimes it seems that the person who actually faces a heroic moment and responds well to that moment has a difficult time living out a good and decent life in their ordinary choices. Kind of a heroic milkshake duck, a hero for a moment but a jerk for most of their lives. All of us can choose to live our mundane and boring in a manner that extends loves to those around us by living in a sacrificial manner that puts others first. So we must ask ourselves “What if I live the ordinary in a pretty crappy manner?” Does that mean that we are living 99.99% of our lives in a crappy manner?
So we praise and glorify the extraordinary … in hopes that praising and glorifying the extraordinary will turn the attention away from our mundane and boring. But the mundane and boring are really who we are.
I believe that is part of the significance of the Incarnation of which Advent reminds us. That in the Incarnation God claims the mundane and boring. Yes, Jesus did the most significant things ever, and He was, and is, extraordinary, but He was also mundane and boring. Think about it, we have years of His life that were never recorded. God incarnate walking on earth in such a manner that next to nothing is recorded concerning the age of 2 and 30. We don’t have stories of Jesus doing His chores, or walking His dog (I am sure that Jesus is a dog person), or dealing with His crazy cousins The Incarnation brings the mundane and boring into the nature of God, and I am convinced that Jesus lived out His boring and mundane in a praiseworthy manner. Jesus didn’t just live sacrificially during the passion week of Easter, or during the three years of His ministry, but during his entire boring and mundane life before the time described by most of the gospels. His boring and mundane were praiseworthy because He was living out the will of His Father 100% of the time.
I think many people would describe my life thus far as an accomplished life. I have accomplished a few things in my 50 years of life that I am pretty proud of and there are still others things that I want to do. Yet I believe the most significant things that I have done are the boring and mundane things. The boring and the mundane show who I really am.
Our extraordinary moments are just that, moments. But the boring and the mundane, that is who we really are. May we (may I) live the boring and mundane in a praiseworthy manner