Do any of the following lies creep into your mind?
You are literally the only person in the world who deals with this struggle.
This is such an insignificant thing. There is no reason to share it with anyone, let alone a room full of people.
You are alone.
I recently attended a retreat for women through our church community and I was asked to give a personal sharing at the end of the retreat.
I was asked to share how Jesus, as our hope, has transformed my daily, ordinary life.
I considered what I should share and heard all of the lies I listed above, telling me I am alone and I need to keep my story to myself.
My story is ordinary. But I have experienced the Lord in a powerful way in my ordinary life (and my husband is very encouraging) so I stood up in front of a couple hundred women last weekend and told them my ordinary story.
And you know what? I had so many women tell me afterwards how refreshing it was to hear about someone's regular, old life. Several said they could relate and that they thought they were the only ones with these struggles.
Our stories matter. Motherhood is such a solitary endeavor in many ways but as we allow each other to enter into our lives by being real (while embracing the ordinary), we don't feel so alone.
So, here's part of my story... (as shared at the retreat)
Jesus has transformed my ordinary, daily life because he is transforming me.
In the past, I was stuck in procrastination and slothfulness. I avoided things I was supposed to be doing until the last minute which was extremely stressful and didn't allow for much margin in my life.
However, I would mostly get things done and I appeared to be on top of things.
When our first son was born and I started staying home with him full-time, I realized how debilitating procrastination was to our home and family life. I felt paralyzed. By the time our third son was born, the wheels were totally coming off the bus.
I was burned out and felt disappointed that I had so little virtue in my daily life.
Around this time, I began to experience a desire to do something great for God. I hoped this would solve the burnout I was experiencing.
I took this desire to prayer and felt very courageous when I told the Lord, I want to do something great for you!
I prayed this prayer multiple times because I kept getting the same, unexpected response.
Every time I prayed for greatness, I heard the Lord respond by saying, if you want to do something great for me, be present right where I have you.
I resisted this for a while because this was not what I had in mind. But I wanted to find joy in my days again and I figured things couldn't get worse so I should give it a shot.
Honestly, before I could get started, I told the Lord that I didn't know how to be present where he had me due to years of distraction and procrastination. I started really small.
I decided that if Jesus gave me this particular family, home and life and he wants me to be fully present in it, I would try to do whatever or care for whoever was right in front of me.
This jumpstarted a slow journey toward being present in my daily life.
All. day. long. I would remind myself to tackle the task at hand without grumbling, wishing it away, resisting it or counting the cost.
Some days were better than others but despite my many failings, the Lord blessed my efforts. I grew in confidence and diligence and I started to find joy in my family and home again. More surprisingly, I experienced joy in the order and routine that was slowly emerging during our days. Order and routine had never brought me joy in my entire life so I knew this had to be the Lord working in me.
I have been overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord for this growth because this has all come from him. I am so weak without him.
As I expressed this gratitude to the Lord, I felt him reminding me of my prayer for greatness. He showed me that when I prayed for greatness, I was actually desiring freedom.
Freedom. That is what I wanted.
I began to hope for freedom. Freedom from the vices I was stuck in and freedom for the Lord - to love him and those he placed in my life.
Freedom is not synonymous with a life as a stay at home mom to three little boys. However, the Lord showed me that he has freedom for me now - in the midst of ordinary life. I don't have to wait until things calm down or until the boys get older.
The Lord has freedom for me today.
Living in this freedom seems easier said than done but I am trying to begin by offering my days to the Lord. I ask him for interior peace and the ability to respond with love and generosity (instead of grumbling) despite the chaos going on outside of me.
On the days when I am able to actually live this out, I still go through my ordinary day and experience the good, the frustrations and the disappointments but I have a sense of peace and a steadiness about me that I didn't have before.
I know that each of our lives look different but the Lord has this hope and freedom for each of us now - in the midst of our lives today.
I am praying that you are encouraged to consider what leaning into this freedom looks like for you today, in the midst of your ordinary life.