3 Ways Living in the Ordinary Can Bring Peace to Our Lives | Know Your Place

Published on
February 28, 2024

This post is an update to one I’ve published before.

I am working on the updates during the week after the Super Bowl. Along with 115 million other people, I watched the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl LVIII spectacle.

During the game, we were bombarded with the Western civilization message that being newer and bigger is always better.

Advertising is built on the premise, “You could have so much more! Go for it! After all, you’re worth it!”

If you settle for last year’s model, stay in the smaller house, take a more uncomplicated vacation, or become rooted in that small community, you’re just not with it.

We cannot find the best of who we are in the extraordinary. We move restlessly from one grand moment to the next:

  • The next place
  • The next job
  • The next house
  • The next degree
  • The next promotion

These will give us what we want. Then we will be satisfied.

In the past, I've written about living well in the ordinary.

This week, I'm updating my previous post.

During the last several months, I've reminded myself, "Where we are right now should be where we thrive and find God."

As I continue my life journey, I become less inclined to chase whatever is next.

I'm slowly learning to believe that where I am is where I am supposed to be.

God calls us to the ordinary in our local place.

The Ordinary

Zack Eswine wrote a memoir of his pastoral work in a small-town church in Missouri a few years back. The book is about seeking to grow in loving God and neighbor in our local place for the global good.

He writes that we cannot find God in the extraordinary. We move restlessly from one grand moment to the next.

The next whatever… will be what we want. Then we will be satisfied.

Where we are right now should be the place where we thrive, where we find God.

As I continue my life journey, I become less inclined to chase whatever is next. I am slowly learning to believe that where I am is where I am supposed to be. God calls us to a local place.

Zach’s words resonate in my soul and bring rest to my spirit. A continual pursuit of the next big thing is exhausting. I’m learning to live in the moment. Let me give you three reasons why everyone should embrace the ordinary.

Roots

Knowing your locality is knowing your present place well — the community, the people, and the plants and trees in your yard. We have roots in an area. To be deeply rooted is to be established.

We live in a small condo. The trees throughout our community are well-established. It has no leaves. The trees show signs of health. The branches have leaves. The bark is healthy. The one directly behind our property is large. The roots are well established and draw in the water and nutrients that the tree needs to remain healthy.

As I noted in the intro above, I’ve been military retired for just over five months. There are many aspects of military life that I enjoyed while serving. One thing I don’t like so much is the transient nature of our lives. We spent two to three years in one place and then moved to a new location. There is never enough time to put down roots.

When people ask where home is, I’d often say it is wherever the Navy sends me and my family. There will come a day when somewhere will be where I live with my wife in retirement. That time is now. I still find establishing roots elusive. God has graciously provided friends and community in where we now live.

I spoke with a Marine a few years ago while we sat at a bonfire during a field exercise. I shared that I find it hard to want to invest too much in a place, knowing I will likely only be there for a short time. I said I don’t like to invest too deeply in relationships because doing so makes leaving all that much harder.

My friend said that he did not struggle with this. Instead, throughout his life, first as a military brat and then during a twenty-year career in the Marine Corps, he had found it was best to “bloom where he was planted.” He said he had learned to invest quickly in relationships, knowing he would only be in a place for a short time.

I’m doing better to bloom where I am planted, but this is still a struggle.

Needs

Human flourishing requires us to love our neighbors. Part of this love is that we are to seek to meet their needs. If we are always pining for the next place, we will overlook the needs around us.

There are gifts you have that someone around you needs. Those gifts are presence and belongingness. People don’t always need our words; they must know we care. They need to understand they can safely connect with us in a mutually supportive way.

There are other needs as well. If we tune into the local environment, we’ll discover many conditions we can address. If everyone committed to meeting the needs of those in their local area, the world would be better.

Last week, I wrote about the myth that purposeful leadership = global impact. As I wrote there, some are wired for global impact. I’m convinced more of us are called to make a local impact. And consider this: when more commit to meeting local needs (alleviating poverty, feeding the hungry, assisting the homeless), the world is profoundly impacted.

Reality

No matter how many exciting things we do, the reality is that most of life is full of the ordinary. We go to school, work, exercise, raise our children, connect with our spouse, spend time with friends, pay the bills, sleep, and get up to do it all over again. We must do the ordinary well. If we don’t do everyday things well, our lives will be unbalanced.

Several years ago, Eugene Peterson wrote a book titled A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Peterson’s book is an antidote to the everything-fast, interconnected society. People who live with significance commit to doing the ordinary extraordinarily well.

God is in the local and at work in the ordinary. When I embrace this, rest comes for my soul.In the Bible, Paul wrote: Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have, and …Godliness with contentment is itself great wealth… So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:6, 8; NLT)

Friend, be rooted, meet needs, and live in the reality of the ordinary. You will find contentment for your soul and peace in your spirit as you do.

Reflect on your life. Do you struggle with the ordinary? Do you lack roots in your life? Are you attuned to meeting the needs of those around you?

__________

I am just over five months military retired.
During these few months, several things have happened:
  • I spent three months not driving due to a medical condition.
  • My wife, son, and I took a long road trip during my final leave period - during my not driving season.
  • I've taken two extended retreats for reflection and writing (thanks, Oasis Rest International).
  • I've leaned into living in the ordinary at a slower pace.
  • I've begun a book project.
Outside of the personal points listed above, I am most passionate aboiut my book project. I’ve tentatively titled the project Your Path to Purposeful Leadership: Rhythms for Becoming a Soul-Driven Leader.
I've put other things on hold as I pursue my dream of publishing a book people will find helpful.
I'd love to have you join me on my writing journey. Many of the ideas I publish here on my blog are things I am thinking about related to my overarching book project.
I’d also love your feedback. Connect with me here, and I'll send you my free Practical Guide to Cultivating Leadership Clarity, Emotional Resilience, and Authentic Relationships.
I always welcome your feedback. I read every email. Please shoot me a note and tell me what you think about living well in the ordinary.
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