God in the Ordinary by Georgie Tennant

Launch at the new year! Find your best self! Renew your writing vigour! Write a best seller! And while you’re at it, lose weight, get fit and start a new hobby to keep your brain alive (oh and try to kick the exclamation mark habit while you’re at it).

If just reading this opening paragraph makes you feel exhausted, you’re among like-minded company.

For me, the Christmas period contains some tough dates – the anniversary of the loss of my stillborn baby; the would-have-been birthday of my late sister. Immediately after these, I am catapulted into the new year at school, dealing with the exuberance of teenagers who have forgotten how to sit still and listen in a classroom for a few weeks. So, starting the new year for me, is more a recovery and reset than an enthusiastic, energetic reaching for the stars.
   
How we think we should
feel in the new year...

                        
The reality!

My heaviness of heart has been relieved somewhat as I have begun to research a topic for future sermon-writing – God in the Ordinary. It has long been a concern of mine that, even as Christians, we are encouraged to buy into a “theology of permanent excitement and quick results,” whipping ourselves up into a permanent frenzy, rather than developing skills of resilience, patience and “long obedience,” (Nietzsche) that would stand us in better stead for the realities of ordinary, day to day life.

Andrew Wilson in a very-much-worth-listening-to-sermon echoed much of what I had been pondering. Do have a listen to the whole thing if you have an opportunity. One point that struck me was that we all become addicted to the “next big thing,” so easily. We start something with such enthusiasm, expecting immediate, visible results – he calls this the microwave model, when we should be at peace with the mustard seed model. (Matthew 13v31-2 NLT: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches”).

                                                    

It is so easy to read this parable of miniscule proportions and assume this all happens within a couple of days. We need to rethink and reimagine. I blame the Sunday school cress experiment for the origins of our lack of patience and abundance of discontent. Every Sunday school teacher in history uses cress-growing as an illustration of what happens when God sows seed in our lives. Days later, excitement peaks as the cress shoots become visible. Perhaps it would be better to grow parsnips or turnips. At least this way, our younger selves might have learnt that it takes a lot of boring, ordinary days, of watering and seeing no results, of having to keep trusting that that which we planted deep in the soil is still there, before expecting any remotely visible results.

The same can be true of our writing. We see the resounding success of other writers and want the same. We embark on a new project, a fresh idea with gusto, only to leave it languishing on the laptop, when the enthusiasm we started out with fizzles. We so easily forget that those whose books have made it into the world have had myriad ordinary, dull, un-Facebook (Twitter/Instagram)-worthy moments in their paths to publication too. No-one would want to read a daily diet of Twitter posts about how much hoovering, cleaning, chocolate-eating happens in a writer’s life, how often family or church life means no writing is even attempted and how much more often they press the delete button, rather than tap with divine inspiration on the keyboard.

If we think of our lives as a graph (if I was vaguely mathematical I would have worked out how to draw one for you as an illustration. Sorry. I’m not), we will have highs at the top of the curves when things are going brilliantly and we are soaring in the heights, and lows, when life crushes us and the valleys feel unending. But much of life, in truth – daily life and our writing lives – are lived along the line in the middle; the mundane, the ordinary.

If we can dwell there, faithfully, not rushing our own work or the work of God in our lives, we can be sure that many mustard seeds will be planted – and the fruit, from those, is unquantifiable for us, but counted and seen by our Father who nurtures them.

                                

Let’s be people who find God in the Ordinary and point others to Him, through our lives and our writing.

I finish with a haiku I wrote in lockdown last year:


Devastating lows,

Hope-fuelled highs. The mundane

Middle: God in all.

Georgie Tennant is a secondary school English teacher in a Norfolk Comprehensive.  She is married, with two sons, aged 13 and 10 who keep her exceptionally busy. She writes for the ACW ‘Christian Writer’ magazine occasionally, and is a contributor to the ACW-Published ‘New Life: Reflections for Lent,’ and ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone,’ and, more recently, has written 8 books in a phonics series, published by BookLife. She writes the ‘Thought for the Week’ for the local newspaper from time to time and also muses about life and loss on her blog: www.somepoemsbygeorgie.blogspot.co.uk



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