Ordinary

You get to experience several mountaintop days in your life. The day you get married, the days your kids are born, when you move into your first house, when you get that big promotion, finally go on that long-awaited adventure or complete a goal years in the making. Those days are fantastic, and we should celebrate every one.

But you know what most of life is? It’s the hike through the valleys between those mountaintops. Not that all of life is depressing – far from it. But it ain’t always exciting. In fact, most of it is downright ordinary.

The eye doctor appointment for one kid the day after the asthma doctor appointment (that you forgot about) for another kid. The third trip to the grocery store – in one day. The baby who just will. not. go. to. sleep. Sweeping the floor for the 17th time today. Laundry without end. Sweeping the floor again. Getting the oil changed. Calling about that bill. Cooking dinner after you finally figure out what you’re having. Going to church.

We do much of the same thing over and over, and we get tired. So tired. But those moments are what make us. It’s not the mountaintops – it’s the getting there. I don’t want to be the guy who only shows up on the great days. I want to be the guy who’s there every day, even when it’s dark and rainy and all you can think about is burying your head under the covers. Even when the sink is clogged and you know it’s going to be all kinds of nasty in the drainpipe, but you gotta clean it anyway because the water backs up when the kids brush their teeth. Even when you get interrupted every three seconds when you’re trying to talk to your spouse. Even when you’re not sure how the money’s going to stretch as far as it needs to go. Even when you just told your kid for the third time in the last five minutes to change his attitude and he’s not getting it and you’re frustrated, but you know you have to dig deeper. These are the moments when your character shows. 

A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop by the Ritz-Carlton on how to provide excellent and memorable customer service. The company is legendary for how they treat their guests. You know what they tell you their secret is? They consistently do the ordinary, extraordinarily well. The infernal wake-up call is a great example. At most hotels, you get an automated call at the appointed hour. Not at the Ritz. You get a real, live person calling you cheerfully, asking if they can bring you coffee or a paper or whatever you need. They even offer to call back in 15 minutes – a human snooze button!

You know what that is? Doing the ordinary extraordinarily well.

You get a few mountaintop days in your life – it’s not hard to find joy there. Finding joy in the mundane, however, is much harder. But it’s worth it. Do the little things well, and you’ll have a deep, abiding joy. In the midst of the busyness and fatigue and overwhelm, keep your head. Show up. Be there. Do the next right thing. That’s what God calls us to do – and what he gives us grace to do. Take your ordinary day, and be consistently extraordinary.

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