Yesterday morning, I got up and out the door for my usual run-turned-more-walk-lately (because HOT). It was 5:30 am on the dot as I opened the front door, patting myself on the back for leaving right on time. An arbitrary time set by me that gives me enough time to get in 5 miles or so before the sunrises and the Texas heat attempts to fry us all.
I got a little less than half a mile from home when the thought crossed my mind that I should probably turn on my flashlight since it was really, really dark.
But I dismissed it. The street lamp was coming up.
And almost immediately, I tripped on an uneven spot of the sidewalk.
For a split second, I thought I’d caught myself but I was wrong. Instead, I landed chin first on the sidewalk. Knee was scratched. Hands. Thumb that had been holding my dumb phone with the flashlight I neglected to turn on.
I rolled over and thought about getting up only to feel the blood drain from my head while my ears started ringing. So I laid down on the sidewalk until the ringing stopped.
Then. I slowly got up, turned around, and walked the almost half a mile home.
After I cleaned myself up, I saw the gigantic swollen knot growing under my chin. Although, now I had multiple chins. I fixed myself some breakfast so I could take the maximum ibuprofen allowed. Then I started googling to make sure I wasn’t about to die from a broken chin (I mean, that might be a thing so better to check it out). What I found were articles like “3 Things I Learned from Falling on My Face” or “Ten Things My Bicycle Accident Taught Me.”
As I laid there, a bag of frozen peas propped up under my chin with a living room pillow, I started thinking about those blog posts. How people will dig and dig for meaning in even the weirdest circumstances.
Then I thought about how much we do that during the hardest of circumstances, too. My friend came to mind. In January, with her husband in the hospital fighting for his life, she had someone sitting with her in the waiting room trying to encourage her with platitudes like God has a reason for this. She said to me, “I don’t want to try and find the reason for this right now. I just want to make it to the next surgery.”
But in our hunt for the deeper, life-altering meaning in the weird and tragic and even in something as stupid tripping over uneven sidewalks, we miss the moments in front of us.
We search for the strings of meaning in our suffering because we believe suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint. So we hunt down the strings and pull with all our might trying to yank some point to this whole weirdness.
And sometimes we look for the bigger meaning while we’re still smack in the middle of a huge mess when really, we should focus on praying for our daily bread instead of worrying over our next holiday meal of revelation.
We’ve traded the ministry of our ordinary for the meaning of the out of the ordinary.
All while our every day, walking around, eating, sleeping, going to work lives are screaming at us for attention.
See me! Pay attention to this moment! Notice the person next to you!
Ordinary, everyday moments like feeling the cool breeze, the smell of fresh watermelon washed little boys, the taste of sour lemonade purchased at the neighbor’s adorable roadside stand, the faces wrapped in goggles and sticky with sunscreen at the local pool, the warmth of your love’s hand wrapped around yours, the honor of listening to a friend share her latest accomplishment.
We have more ordinary than out of the ordinary and those moments, the ones we don’t mine for meaning, they are the moments that build a life, a home, a nest one sweet everyday minute at a time.
What if we all changed that?
Stopped grasping at the strings of purpose in the out of the ordinary and started holding firmly to the cords of ministry in the everyday ordinary.
What if we asked God for His eyes to see in the right now? Asked Him who He wanted us to love in this very day? Decided to see who Jesus sends us to serve where we are at that moment?
And we chose to leave all our grasping and mining and striving on the sidewalk with our dignity.
Tripping over the uneven sidewalk and falling hard on my face taught me that next time I should listen to the Spirit when He tells me to turn on my flashlight.
And it reminded me to pay more attention to the ordinary instead of focusing too much on the out of ordinary.