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Perseverance: In the Mundane

Legos are one of my all-time favorite toys.  From the age a child stops trying to eat them, until adulthood, they are a creative and stimulating activity.  If people ask me what they can buy one of my kids for a birthday present, Legos are always on the list! 

My kids love getting a new Lego set to put together!  They tear open the box and the little plastic baggies of bricks, open the instruction booklet, and begin!  However, inevitably, after a few pages of instructions they begin to lose steam.  They take a break and put the Lego people together and accessorize them.  Maybe there’s an accessory vehicle or small platform to build—so they do that too.  These are quick and easy, therefore quickly rewarding, tasks that break the monotony of the small gray brick on top of another small gray brick on top of another small gray brick on top of another small gray brick… 

Eventually they run out of the extra things to build in their new set, so they come to a cross-road of sorts.  Maybe they look up at me with their cutest puppy dog eyes and say “Mom, can you help me pretty please…?” (translated to: “you do it, lady”).  Maybe they look over at their brother’s new set and try to take over that project or watch their progress.  Or maybe they head to the back of the Lego instruction manual, the part where Lego strategically has placed other related sets for sale, and they begin to daydream about these other sets they wish they could have…  Meanwhile, they make little to no progress on the super cool Millennium Falcon they were so excited about just moments before.

Their Lego project has stalled and putting it together has become mundane.  If they get back on track, push through the monotonous parts, then towards the end they begin to get excited again—they can finally see the shape of what they are creating.

The beginning and ending of a situation is often so much easier to focus on than the middle.  Even in our most difficult seasons, we find we can rise to the occasion when that bad news first hits—or when we see the end of it on the horizon.  We can pray harder, focus longer, work more tirelessly, and be more faithful.  But when this new situation has become our norm and is no longer an occasion we must rise to—it is tempting to slip into a discouraging rut and lose motivation to do our best.

Eating a piece of our favorite cake is delicious at the end of a good day’s work.  But having that same piece of cake every. single. day. cheapens the experience and makes it almost boring and tasteless.  So even the privileges in our lives lose their luster over time.  There is comfort in the routine of it, but not motivation.  Mundane or not mundane—so much of it comes down to context.  Much of the daily life we lead, which feels mundane right now, has the potential to be more exciting or motivating, given the proper context.

  • Emptying the dishwasher for the 300th time feels a lot different than emptying it for the first time in a new home, or for the last time in a home you are moving from.
  • Doing the daily laundry of a loved one feels much different if it’s for a new baby about to arrive, or for a person who is no longer in the home.
  • Going to that first ultrasound is much more exciting than suddenly having to get an ultrasound weekly as a result of potential complications. 
  • Helping your child with a math worksheet at the beginning of the school year feels much different than when you are 20 weeks in.
  • Getting dressed for the first and last days of a job is approached with much more intention than the years in between.

These things that we do quickly become mundane when the context of them is suddenly routine and expected.  They feel like obstacles, getting in the way of us doing more important or exciting things.  Being in a season, or even just a day, of mundane drudgery can make me feel stuck and unproductive—even though I’m technically getting things done.  If only I didn’t have to do X, Y, and Z, then I could accomplish big things for you, God!  Being in the mundane is discouraging because it feels like my talents are being wasted, or my potential is being squandered. 

Lego sets have instruction manuals and pretty photos of the completed project.  My life…not so much.  I don’t know how many small gray bricks I’ll have to stack before I can put on a fancy clear blue one.  But I do know that the gray bricks are important to the final story of my life.  Without those, I have nothing to press the more life-changing bricks onto. 

So how do I break out of this rut of the mundane?  I have struggled with this off and on over the years of my adulthood, but I am slowly learning that how I perceive my days will influence my approach to my days.  If I shift my view of the things I face—mundane and not—and see them ALL as opportunities instead of obstacles, then perhaps I will find more success in persevering.  There will always be mundane aspects of anything we do, but those are opportunities to prove our faithfulness to a faithful God.

So I’ve decided that I’m at a turning point in my mundane rut of an existence: I’m embracing it.  I’m going to make the most of these little bitty opportunities and build them into something worthwhile.  This determination still requires daily motivation, however.  

While we may not have a specific instruction manual on how to build our life, complete with pictures of each step, we do have Biblical instructions and promises of what those steps lead to.  We can incorporate these into how we find motivation to press on in all of these mundane middle moments. 

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33 

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”–1 Corinthians 10:31

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” –Galatians 6:9

Or my personal favorite for breaking out of a mundane attitude:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

    and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

    and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe them,

    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

    and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness[a] will go before you,

    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,

    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

    and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always;

    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

    and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

    like a spring whose waters never fail.”

–Isaiah 58:6-11

I mean, how inspiring is that passage?!  If nothing else works to motivate me to do a good job in my mundane—recognizing the impact I can have on the needs of others works every time!  Sometimes that split-second distraction from focusing on myself is all I need to wake up and remember that there is purpose even in my mundane middle because it bridges the gap between what God has used me for, and what He is going to use me for next.  Persevering through, and doing my best regardless of what task is in front of me refines me into an even more effective tool that He can use for His glory.  Because ultimately, whether I’m eating or drinking, whether I’m folding laundry or paying bills, whether I’m driving children to school or laying around on bedrest, whether I’m sitting in a cubicle or applying for a job, whatever I do—it’s all for the glory of God.  He uses each moment—beginning, middle, and end—for an intricate plan that shows off His redemptive power and love.  So how could I possibly remain unmotivated for long?

It is way easier said than done, I know.  However, even if I have to preach this same thing to myself every single day, I would rather try to thrive in the mundane than not try at all.

How do you push through the mundane moments/days/seasons?  Any other motivating scriptures that would help me?  I need all the help, patience, and grace I can get!

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