Cathy Madavan encourages us to celebrate each day, and to savour the small moments as well as the big
I love this time of year as longer days and warmer weather are now on their way. There is much to look forward to but, as we set our expectations for the months ahead, let’s not lose our grip on reality.
Marketeers with their advertisements showing deliriously happy families on expensive holidays deliberately set up an ideal ‘over there’ or ‘out there’ to aspire to, which can somehow diminish what is ‘over here’ every day. You may or may not have 100 extraordinary experiences booked in the diary, but there is beauty in the ordinary all around us if we pause to ponder.
1 Ordinary can be extraordinary
In my latest book Why Less Means More (SPCK), I explored this idea of embracing and celebrating the ordinary, and people have responded strongly back to me with a “Yes and Amen!” It seems many of us are a little tired of being told that everything needs to be
so ‘extra’ – be that our homes, our cooking, our holidays, our decorative tablescapes (yes, really) or our careers. When did everything become so exhausting? No wonder many of us are rediscovering ideas like simplicity and gratitude, where we pause to cherish what we already have and quit striving quite so much.
We won’t get this time back… today is still a gift
2 Avoid the horizon
Some of us (i.e. me) spend our lives spinning way too many plates while saying things like: “I’ll slow down after this project” or “It’s only for a season” as we frantically plan ahead, cope with the chaos and kid ourselves that a slower day is coming. Anyone else resonate? What if we take our eyes off the horizon for a moment and realise the present is worth our best attention? We won’t get this time back and, while there are always pressure points and busy seasons, today is still a gift. Now is the time to invest in your spiritual, emotional and physical heath, and tomorrow is, in part at least, created by the choices you make today.
3 Notice the small things
There really is a lot of pressure to aim high, to dream big and even to super-size our prayers. That’s not all bad of course – goals are good, and I wouldn’t advocate living in your comfort zone. However, the pressure to perform
and to live at the edge of our limits can create real stress. And so, for me, the antidote has been to regularly and deliberately ‘go small’. In other words, I might: water the plants more slowly,
create a breakfast picnic on the patio, pause and pray while the kettle boils or
stop to listen to a child properly. In Zechariah 4:10 the Bible tells us not “despise the day of small things”, and it is still timely advice.
4 Notice the big things
It might sound like a contradiction but embracing the ordinary, small things doesn’t mean dumbing down our life. Indeed, I am increasingly challenged to make time and space to really enjoy milestone moments or special celebrations. If we can attend a summer festival with amazing worship and speakers, or if we can book a special holiday, then what a blessing that is! The key is to remember that these are supposed to be ‘extra-ordinary’ events.
So, our church isn’t necessarily disappointing if it doesn’t resemble New Wine, and our usual life is not less special at home. The big and the small are different and both are to be gratefully embraced and enjoyed for what they are.
5 Choose your focus
I know how easy it is to look at and be impressed by the lives of others, be that travel bloggers, entrepreneurs, exercise ninjas or whatever. But what are our metrics for success or significance in life? I’d say the more we come back to the life of Jesus, inform ourselves about amazing charities and churches making a difference and transforming lives in Jesus’ name and get involved where we can, the more likely we are to find real and lasting satisfaction. Only Jesus offers us living water and only he is the way, the truth and the life. Let’s fix our eyes on him, because nothing, no matter how extraordinary, can possibly compare!