Saturday, July 30, 2016

Joy and Gratitude in the Ordinary

I used to have grand ideas about how to save the world.  I had the following beliefs:
  • if I could become a politician who saved the U.S. then that would be extraordinary.
  • if I could write a book that would change people, then that would be extraordinary.
  • if I could start an orphanage, adopt some crack babies, or start an inner-city ministry, then that would be extraordinary.
But, then I ran into my wife.

My wife and I find ourselves in some of the most extraordinary moments as we sit down to eat a meal.  A sense of gratitude and joy often comes over us as we simply thank one another for cooking dinner or washing the dishes following dinner.  A sense of gratitude and joy comes over us as we realize the other person has listened to our vulnerability in sharing some of the fears or failures we experienced during the day.  "Thank you" becomes more than just a polite expression.  It becomes a deep sense of connection to the other person.

As another example, we also experience a sense of gratitude and joy as we share each others accomplishments and successes during the day, along with words of affirmation, a way to endorse the other person's value, worth, and recognition.  "Thank you for affirming me."  It is powerful.

As a final example, we experience a sense of gratitude and joy when we share with each other how we have been blamed, harmed, or hurt, be it a large infraction or a seemingly smaller one.  When our spouse says, "I'm so sorry that happened to you.  That wasn't fair and that person shouldn't have done that to you."  When we say these sorts of things to each other, without trying to fix the other, we validate their feelings and woundedness.

I used to think that I could experience the joy of doing something extraordinary if I saved the world.  Now, I realize that I experience the most gratitude and joy in the simple moments that my wife and I have as we often meet for moments of quiet connectedness to listen, share, validate, and support one another.  It is possible that one day, God might use me to save the world; however, I can't experience the type of gratitude and joy found in such a venture without it sprouting from the deeper sense of gratitude and joy that I experience with my wife at the dinner table for quiet moments of reflection.

This is where God takes us at our core relationship and allows us to move with that core relationship out into the realm of the many.  Saving the world really means husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers who experience deep senses of gratitude and joy in the seemingly ordinary moments of the day and then carry their heart into the world and then those around them are infected by their ordinary joys which infuse into their own spousal and parental relationships.  The extraordinary is truly about others being infected by our seemingly ordinary gratitudes and joys.

"Joy comes to us in moments - ordinary moments.  We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary." - Brene Brown