This past Monday morning (and maybe other mornings as well…) I laid in the bed a few minutes longer than usual, my mind and body unwilling to get up and face the day. I mentally rehearsed to myself the day’s tasks and as I did so I was filled with reluctant dread. I do not want to pack lunch boxes. I do not want to do laundry. I do not feel like dealing with a restless dog caught inside on a rainy day. Grocery shopping, cleaning out the refrigerator, putting the house back together after my recent furniture rearranging attempt–I dread these as well.
It’s my usual Monday fare and sometimes, like that morning, I am so overcome with the monotony of it all that I feel as if I could scream. Or, at the very least, forget it all and stay in the bed.
It’s pitiful. I am pitiful. I know that these, my petty, silly complaints, are the sorts of first world problems ridiculed on Twitter, the kinds of struggles that are only struggles because of my relative affluence and comfort.
Sometimes I attempt to talk myself out of my funk by telling myself, rather sternly too, that there are women all over the world who not only do not own a closet full of clothes but cannot even conceive of such wealth, women who lack even the most basic of necessities, like running water for instance, much less a grocery store with its vast array of food options. I remind myself of the shacks I saw in Nicaragua, “shack” being a loose term, one I’m not certain is applicable to the sort of structures we saw constructed of sticks and black plastic.
Not only that but there are people I love and care about undergoing very real, very heavy stresses. I worry for them, I pray for them, I beg the Lord on their behalf for His intervention and His provision, and even as I do so I feel guilty for my own petty, superficial worries. I am ashamed of my silliness and I tell myself so. Though my compassion and my intercession for my loved ones are heartfelt and earnest, my tendency to miserable self focus too often returns, now compounded by guilt.
These sorts of lectures correct my mindset for a time but the problem is I can just as easily reflect on women whose circumstances appear to me much more attractive than my own as I can those in lesser. Comparison does not help me, not really, because in my attempt to talk myself out of my bad attitude I only exacerbate it. And I lay in the bed on a Monday morning and dread the day ahead.
My boredom with the monotonous routine that comprises my daily life (such as I see it so, that is), my restless discontent, the dull funk, these are not helped by comparison nor would it serve my family for me to chuck it all in favor of what would seem more exciting, more elegant, more whatever-it-is-I-think-is-better. Nor can I lay in the bed all day. So where do I find relief? What will grant me perseverance to not merely slough through the day but to greet each day’s opportunities and responsibilities with joy and energy? After all, the bathrooms must be cleaned. The suppers must be cooked and the laundry must be washed and folded. I cannot escape these tasks; they are occupations granted to me in this stage of my life.
I need perspective. I need to look beyond myself, beyond the dailiness to the eternal. I need to love and love well and in loving well forget myself and honor others. I need eyes to see that the laundry is both responsibility and privilege and that by the seemingly endless, perpetual sorting, washing and folding I fulfilling the high and holy call of serving my family as well as serving my Lord. All things can be done in His name and for His glory, even the most mundane and monotonous. I need a fresh glimpse of grace and the fresh wave of delight that marks those who know themselves forgiven and redeemed. Maybe I need to make some changes but not the sorts of changes born of restless dissatisfaction but those prompted by a desire to please the Lord and to walk in obedience to Him.
I need the gospel.
The good news that Jesus saves sinners isn’t only for the exultant, jubilant, victorious moments of life. Nor, for that matter, only for the most desperate and tragic. It is also for the boring dailiness. Perhaps it is especially for the boring dailiness because it is there, in our ordinary-clay-pot lives that the glorious Treasure shines most brightly. In my fight for joy beyond my circumstances I learn that there is no true joy apart from Jesus. He is Life and only He is sufficient to provide what I so desperately lack: perspective, joy, delight, energy. All these–and more–are found in Him as I repent of my funk and seek Him in faith.
When I see Him–really see Him–in the midst of my circumstances, whether those circumstances are boring, exciting, tragic or stressful, I discover the life that is truly life: Christ alone exalted, glorified, sought, found.