What does it take to go from ordinary to extraordinary? How does a life go from boring to beautiful? What does it require to live a life in passionate pursuit of God, His plan, His purpose?
I've been pondering these questions for quite some time now, and I think the answers might surprise you.
There seems to be a push among Christians to "do something big" for the Kingdom of God. Rightfully so—with children starving, women being raped, babies being forcefully aborted, and families drinking sludge instead of clean water.
Clearly, there is much work—good work—to be done, and I'm not against any of it. My family is passionate about supporting our local Crisis Pregnancy Center, the MOB Society is gearing up to support a missionary through Wycliffe Bible Translators, and I give my time and words as often as I can to those without the Bible in their own heart language as a support to the Seed Company. I love the work of Freeset Global, and I kind of help run this online ministry for mothers of boys.
All of these are good, necessary, worthwhile things.
They're real. The people they serve are real. The needs are real. Some of the situations are desperate—life and death—and require deep personal sacrifice to make even the smallest of changes.
I admit, as I've read the stories of the people whose very lives are changed through these ministries—some coming to know Christ for the first time—I've been moved to action. I've watched as women I admire travel abroad, bringing attention to those who need our care and love and money so very much, and thought, "that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!" Traveling, seeing, spreading the word so that others can get involved.
I've listened as Christian writers and speakers passionately share the Word of God in front of thousands, changing the lives of countless people for the better, and thought, "that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!" Studying, training, offering pure hearts so that others can know the truth.
I've watched from afar as millions of women gathered together because "what if?" What if they could change the world and make all those bad things go away in Jesus' Name? And I've thought to myself, "that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!" Thinking, brainstorming, creating ways to help others get involved and think outside of the boxes of our individual expressions of faith.
I've read stories about women whose words light up the screen with passion for freeing women to serve in the church, lead, grow, and be everything Jesus died for them to be and thought, "that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!"
A life that really matters. A life that's truly beautiful. A life spent for God's glory. Those things...they must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life.
And yet as a mom—just a simple, stay-at-home mama—who works from her office that doubles as a homeschool room, and who has to move that plastic globe (the one she uses most weeks to teach her boys that the world is much bigger than what they can see) hanging from the window out of the way so you can't see it on a home grown video—I sometimes look at these world changers and am tempted to think my own efforts fall sadly short of the extraordinary.
The mom who says, "love others more than you love yourself" for the 100th time in one day...
Who does the dishwasher for the second time in 24 hours...
Who struggles just to find a second to wash her hair...
Who puts the work that means the world to her on hold because that little one needs to hear he's loved one more time...
Who prays and prays and begs God to move in something so very small, and notices He seems to be interested in bigger things...
Who asks God daily to give her joy in the mundane, to keep her from losing her mind as siblings fight over nothing AGAIN...
Her life can feel a little like that plastic globe hanging from the window—with a glimpse of the most extraordinary things so far away—the things yet to be seen, yet to be fixed—and the ordinary staring her in the face, leaving her feeling like her contribution to the world isn't all that important.
And I wonder when motherhood lost its extraordinary.
Not that the people in foreign lands, or even right down the street, don't need someone to come to them in Jesus' Name, but that the people right under our noses, and all the sacrifice required to love them well, need us just as much.
When did encouraging women to "love their husbands and children, be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands..." become passe'? When did we stop believing that a call to motherhood, loving one man, service in our homes, and sacrifice for the sake of raising godly children was truly extraordinary? When did we start believing that there had to be something more, something bigger, something more important to qualify us for the extraordinary?
Motherhood IS extraordinary...
But it's often unseen. Unnoticed. And the change it evokes in the lives of generations upon generations—while having the potential to impact the Kingdom in untold deep and profound ways—is slow, tedious, and requires diligence and patience and sacrifice...day, after day, after day.
There aren't blog posts written about the reality of life in the motherhood intended to raise money for those feeling helpless in its trenches. And there's no glory in the calling to bring forth life until that child rises up and calls us blessed...IF that child rises up and calls us blessed.
But I say it requires an even greater degree of faith to stare down deep into the eyes of the ordinary and call it extraordinary.
Not that our command to "go therefore, and preach the Gospel to all nations" shouldn't cause some of us to physically go. It should, and it will, and there will be big sacrifices required of some to obey the call. Not that we shouldn't go if we get the call, just that those of us not called to go there should be deemed extraordinary here, and that going to the nations should include the little heathens at home.
Here, in the throes of dirty diapers, runny noses, selfish hearts, bratty brothers, and sinful, slothful, needy, sometimes unloving children. Here, in the throes of sometimes thankless marriages. Here, in the throes of important callings that play second fiddle to that which is even more important—loving our families well. Extraordinary here, regardless of what's happening there.
Mama, your life—with all it's ups and downs, starts and stops, victories and defeats, praises and heartbreaks—is extraordinary. You don't need to add anything else to your to-do list to be beautiful. You can passionately pursue God, His plan, and His purpose right where you are with the people group who need to hear the Gospel from you most.
All the little ways you serve, sacrifice, believe, pray, share, and love...all added up together make you extraordinary. You are nothing short of extraordinary, and God says that's enough.
*Note: Please don't think this blog post is intended to make fun of or downplay foreign missions, or the important work of ministries seeking to help those in great need. It's not. It's simply meant to remind moms that their work is just as important, albeit overlooked—and that most of the time, loving their families well is the biggest thing of all.