Mark 10:42-45 (GNT): So Jesus called them all together to Him and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. This, however, is not the way it is among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; He came to serve and to give His life to redeem many people.”
In the process of writing this blog (which I believe will be therapeutic, in a sense), I have to talk about some things that I don’t, as a rule, speak much on. It’s probably not a big surprise to most to learn that I am a bit on the private side. As a minister for going on nineteen years, I have learned the value in privacy and in maintaining that privacy. Some of that comes from many years of not having much of it, and admitting things to the wrong people, only to find that they took what you told them and used it to judge you with it. Funny how people like that aren’t people who are ever really helpful, but we’ll leave that alone for the sake of this blog. What I am going to give is a story in two parts on ordinary – and how it is either a blessing or a bitterness – depending on who you are.
My second cousins, Phil and Roslyn, were married for well over fifty years. Neither one of them ever had a breakout hit on Youtube. They weren’t looking to be extras on a movie set. Neither of them were famous, nor was anyone in their family famous. If anything, they paid a great price to be together, as my cousin’s side of the family (the Battaglia side) had no use for Roslyn, and literally made Phil choose between them and her after they got married. Even though they didn’t abandon the family all together, it was obvious that lines were drawn, choices were made, and that over time, they separated from the initial family. There’s no question that, given the truly good relationship the two of them had, that Phil and Roslyn did what was right for them. They raised their children, they took care of each other, and they lived their lives.
For them, they paid the price of being ordinary, but it benefited them. The price of being ordinary means they traded our own concepts of being “someone” in order to be parents, to work together, to keep food on the table and the mortgage paid, and to be successful, in general, at life.
There’s nothing wrong with being ordinary, if that is what you are genuinely called to be. There’s an ease with it, with the simplisticness of life and attention to detail. There’s something powerful about being called to be someone who raises a family, or even remains single, and lives day-to-day life in a powerful and blessed way. It is really fine not to be called or anointed for ministry, or fame or fortune, or international influence. It shows one as a witness, that God cares about every aspect of our lives, and that He is with us, no matter how big or small we may be in the eyes of the world. No matter how extraordinary we may be, we all have to do ordinary things in life, and the ordinary of life, and the ordinary calling, remind us that none of us can escape that which we must do in our day-to-day living.
There is another side to this, however, and it is when people who are called and endowed with the extraordinary and seek to hide that in the ordinary. Yes, it happens. On to my next story.
Some of you know I have relatives who haven’t spoken to me in a number of years, and some of you don’t. The here and there of what happened is not what I am going to get into here. Yes, some of it is my calling; some of it is nothing more than being very different from my relatives and all of them don’t accept those differences in me. I’m not the only one, everyone has been reached out to, and helped, time and time again, until the Lord said that it wasn’t my battle anymore and to stop engaging people who didn’t want to be engaged. Here we have been, as we are, for well over a decade.
One sister of mine was not ordinary. We all knew it. My mom even told me (many years after the fact) that my sister had seen in dreams and visions things that were to come. Yet, everything within my sister rejected this idea, and the idea of God. She desired to be ordinary and ignore the gifts she had, and pursue things in her life that gave “ordinary” a new meaning. She pursued bad relationships, jobs that were far below her capabilities, lifestyles that brought harm into her life, and other things that affected her health and life. Anything to avoid God, avoid dealing with who she was as a person and the flaws she had, and confronting the things in her life that needed addressing.
Not all that long ago, I accidentally found her Facebook page. When I say “accidentally,” it was because I wasn’t looking for it; I literally stumbled on it. When I saw the pictures of her and her life, all I could say to myself is…how ordinary looking. For someone who had so many aspirations, she certainly has chosen an ordinary lifestyle in order to avoid being extraordinary.
It seems like no matter where people are at today, everyone is malcontented. People who have gifts don’t want them. They want to pursue any sort of life they want, any relationships they want, and have it “all,” as people say. They want the ministry, the fame, the fortune, the kids, the spouse, the maid, the big cars, the fancy clothes, and the cozy home life with chicken and dumplings cooking in the kitchen. The problem with this is that you can’t have it all. Everything that we choose to do, even in the Lord, requires choices and has consequences. Not everyone understands the choices that we make, and being extraordinary in many ways sets us apart. It hurts our relationships, it causes misunderstanding with those who are closest to us, and requires people in our lives to just “understand,” when understanding is nearly impossible for them. Then there are those who live the blessing of ordinary lives, who want that ministry, what they pursue as the fortune and fame, the money and the prestige of sitting on the front row or in the pulpit, and don’t consider the price that being extraordinary costs: the loss of privacy and quiet time, the strain on relationships, the judgment that people harbor against someone who makes mistakes publically and decisions openly, and the overall feeling that your life is not your own. The ordinary want to be extraordinary because they think the extraordinary are closer to God, and the extraordinary want to be ordinary because they think life is easier.
It’s a classic case of thinking the grass is greener somewhere else, when it’s not, at all. No matter what you are called to, the grass is exactly the same, and takes the exact amount of effort to care for, because that’s the grass that you are appointed in this life to handle.
Those who are seen as extraordinary aren’t closer to God, and those who are seen as ordinary don’t have easy lives. The moral of this story: it’s so important that we just be whatever we are supposed to be. Too many people are trying to be things they aren’t, whether they are trying to be ordinary when they aren’t, or trying to be extraordinary when they are ordinary. We can use any state of life and state of being to hide behind what God really asks us to do and wants for us in life. It is better to just flow with who He creates us to be than trying to be something else. Everyone is not called to be something seen in the world as “great,” and everyone is not called to have a simple life. We are all, however, called to serve, right where we are, in the way He has gifted and appointed us to do so.
© 2015 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.