my everyday, ordinary life + seeking out the divine
“Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.” [Romans 12:1, The Message]
I’ve been connecting during Lent with Saint Laurence Reading, the church my friend Jettie and I visited recently in England; they send out daily thoughts and heavens, have they been welcome. For me, this Lent has been less about giving up something solid and more about shining a bright light into some of my dark places. It’s been confronting my own selfishness, my own weakness, my own stubbornness to maintain I’m right and they’re the ones who should be asking for my forgiveness. In reality, there is forgiveness that needs to be asked but I am most certainly not the only one who should be on the receiving end.
That verse from Romans was included in today’s thought on sacrifice and it encouraged me greatly. When I think about laying down sacrifices in front of God, it often feels like I have nothing worthy to offer. I love my life and cannot expressible how valuable I find my days; yet I’m grateful to Him in such a deep and overwhelming way that my own life seems but a poor shadow to offer my God that loves me more fully and provides more willingly than I could ever possibly imagine or ask for.
Yet it is just that poor shadow He wants; just that ordinary existence, those everyday tasks, those familiar conversations and moments. There is a deep and profound sacredness, a powerful scent of the divine, in offering up those seemingly plain and simple things: the unexpected March sunshine, an afternoon of working with a really good cup of coffee, the impromptu dinner with a dear friend, the making of another birthday cake.
Thinking of this past Sunday, I am still wobbling around from my encounter with this everyday divine. One of my more recent favorite writers, Rachel Held Evans, came to speak at Mars Hill and I was beyond excited (like honestly, embarrassingly, groupie-excited). After her wonderful talk on redefining Biblical womanhood in our series on Ruth, I went up to introduce myself (and bring her cookies I had baked that morning; I told you, groupie-excited). We had a nice chat and much to my surprise, she invited me to lunch with a group of other readers. While waiting for everyone to gather and head out, I unexpectedly ran into a dear friend, who had just moved back to California, but was home very briefly for a family wedding. We’ve known each other since we were nine years old and even our briefest conversations are always an inexpressible balm to me. A recent and tender wound of mine was brought to light during our conversation and he spoke simply and sincerely:
“I’m so sorry you had to go through that. That’s so hurtful.”
That small offering, those plain words, affirmed and healed me in a way I didn’t even realize I needed; I felt its warmth with me for hours afterward.
He left and I headed out with Rachel and the rest of the group to a favorite local spot, Bartertown, and lo and behold, I ended up sitting next to another recent favorite, feminist Christian blogger Dianna. Our table was full of interesting and smart people, and the conversations and food we shared were so uplifting and challenging and wonderful. Dianna did a great job of describing this, so I’ll leave my comments on this brief.
From there, I went to meet my House Church for coffee and was greatly encouraged as we open our arms to new people and are looking to grow together in a sincere and real community. My day kept spinning as I headed to another family birthday dinner and spent some blessed time around the table with my crazy and wonderful family. From there, I arrived at my last stop; a quiet game night in with my beloved friend Cassie, who was returning to Spain the next day, and her friends, Kate and Jason. What began as a few rounds of games and a glass of sangria turned into a real and affirming conversation on the chaos and difficulty of real community and what it is to redefine what relationships look like.
I cannot even begin to express how fully soaked that day felt in divine energy. When offered in front of God, it became something more wholly sacred in its everyday-ness than I could have asked for. In those days, when I am truly in awe of how present His divinity is in my small, simple life, the words of Wendell Berry roll around in my head over and over. He originally wrote these about marriage, but I find that they find a home in so many areas of my life:
“More blessed in you than I know…”