Finding meaning when life seems mundane

I've got to admit. My daily schedule is not the stuff of adventure, excitement or accomplishment. In fact, if I was to detail to you what last week looked like for us, you'd probably fall asleep! It's easy to feel drowned in the mundaness of everything. Some mornings I wake up and wonder what my life is really accomplishing in the seemingly never ending round of dirty diapers, dirty laundry and dirty, well, with little children almost everything seems to get dirty on a regular basis.

Back when I was in my early 20s, I had big dreams of what life would hold. The mission field, ministry to refugees, film production, inner city outreach - I had so many ideas, so many plans to change the world, to make a difference. And then the first baby came. And the next. And the next. Rather unwillingly, all those dreams and plans were slowly shelved, making room instead for a realm of ministry that involves a high level of routine, chores and baby babble. Not exactly what I'd imagined.

I've been struggling with the disparity between my past dreams and my current reality. While I'm confident that God has placed me exactly where I should be, I have had trouble finding meaning that's bigger than the daily grind. All the books I've read about the high calling of motherhood ring true to me, and yet their noble words somehow get lost under a pile of toys. Fighting discouragement, I've begun to pray, to ask God to give me a new vision and a new heart for service.

You want to hear the answer He gave me? "...set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things..." (Col. 3:2) As I've been meditating on that reply, God has directed my heart into three ways to make each day, each moment meaningful:
  1. Set His glory as my sole aim - all my dreams of great and life-changing ministry sounded noble and were backed by good intentions. But I've come to realize that unless God ordains them, these worthy pursuits are worthless. Now when the nagging feeling of dissatisfaction or the disquieting worries of another "wasted" day arise, I refocus. I lay my life once again on the altar of His glory and cast my cares upon the One who has a much bigger plan than I can ever imagine.
  2. Invest in worldwide outreach...through prayer - It's easy to forget that God is ultimately the One who brings the fruit, who causes the increase out of ministry labors. It's also easy to forget that He works through the agency of our prayers. I'm trying to keep these truths closer to my heart by making intercessory prayer a larger part of my day.

    I may not be able to serve in a Haitian orphanage, but I can pray for each of those precious children. I may not be able to take missions trips to far flung destinations, but I can pray for the inhabitants. I may not be able to smuggle Bibles into closed countries, but I can pray for those who do. As I've focused more on prayer, I have a sense of purpose and of partnership in ministry that provides a deep sense of fulfillment.
  3. View every hour of the day as a training opportunity - My little angels wear me out. It's quite common to reach a point where I just want them to stop! Stop the noise, stop the fighting, stop the bad attitudes, stop the mess making. Instead of using whatever the crisis du jour is as a platform for teaching, I just try to squelch the problem. Great example of what purposeful parenting is NOT! So I'm trying to change. Trying to view those irritating situations as opportunities to train and disciple my children and point them to the Savior. After all, the point of embracing the mundane life is with the end goal of training them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord! Don't want to miss the forest for the trees!
So what about you? How do you rise above the challenges of motherhood? Or of tedious work? Or of whatever wearing situation through which God is allowing you to pass? I'd love to hear what the Lord is doing in your life!


Beth said...

Julia, How did I not realize that you had a blog??? You are now in my Google reader - hooray!

A couple of thoughts...when my kids were little I used to look for islands of calm and remind myself that even in the midst of the routine craziness of diapers, dirt, disorganization, and all the rest, God's desire was to work in and through me to bless and teach my children. So, in those rare moments of quiet when I could think straight : ) I would thank Him for putting me where I was and ask Him if since I couldn't go to all the exciting places anymore, then could he please bring the people to me. And he did. Over and over and over again. The witness of a loving, happy, messy, imperfect Christian family is powerful.

I'm so glad you're reading. That's something else that brought perspective plus the opportunity to travel in my imagination, which I enjoyed so much. Keep it up.

Hey, we still need our coffee visit. Is there a time in the next week or so we could get together?

Julia said...

I didn't even see this comment until today! Thanks for the encouragement. I forget the power of a family so easily. My mom is in town this week, but maybe when Daniel is back we can get together?

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