Spirituality in the Mundane

I love Donald Miller. In fact, Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What were pivotal books for me in shaping the way I think about God and the Bible. He has a great way of telling stories, both the story of God and salvation and also the stories of individuals.

Recently, he has been focusing on the stories of individuals, teaching people how to live their lives in a way that is meaningful and impactful. If you aren't familiar with his book Million Miles, an example of this can be found in his blog post here.

However, I feel there is a flaw in this sort of thinking. It's great to strive for those memorable scenes in life when we do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes in the Christian life we are called to do that. Sometimes we're called to change vocations or to pick up and move our families to somewhere unknown until God says, "OK, you're here now." But I don't think that's always the case. It's easy to glamorize these great out-of-the-ordinary moments, but there is also something to be said about the mundane.

What about the middle-aged man taking care of his aging parents at the expense of his career? Or the young woman struggling with daily, chronic pain? Or what about all the people with depression, cutting, and/or addictions- people for whom waking up in the morning and looking at themselves in the mirror is a challenge in and of itself?

We want stories where people perform great feats, whether it be biking across a continent or surprising strangers with one's spontaneity. We want to see success stories and be inspired. But not every good decision leads to a grand story. Some stories are simple. Some stories are one-liners: "I put others before myself." "I chose joy instead of despair." "I will believe in the goodness of God and the identity He has given me, even though circumstances obstruct my view of Him." Stories like these are not based on a one-time decision but are instead a daily crucifixion of the Self. They are messy and hard decisions that are made over and over again, and sometimes (a lot of times?) don't have a forseeable "happily ever after." These are the types of stories that are sometimes not resolved until eternity.

While there is a place for spontaneity and challenging oneself to go beyond the routine, there is also a place for "radical spirituality" in the mundane. Sometimes the most mundane road is the most radical, meaningful, and impactful, and the people who choose it should be hailed as heroes just as much if not more than fountain-runners.