God of the Ordinary

I wrote a piece for a newsletter back in 2002 entitled “God of the Ordinary” wherein I stated that I believe our God is a God of the ordinary. A modified version is below.

God sent his son Jesus to earth to redeem us, and Jesus lived a rather ordinary life for 30 years before he began his public ministry. He was born into an ordinary family. Jesus was surrounded by ordinary shepherds at his birth and, up until the time when he began his public ministry, led a rather ordinary life as a carpenter himself. He knew what it was to be an apprentice, to be self-employed.

If you’re tempted to think that Jesus doesn’t understand our human condition, think again. He worked, slept, ate and drank, worshipped, and obeyed his earthly parents, Joseph and Mary. Jesus knew what it was like to be taken advantage of by those who only sought him for what he could do for them rather than for who he was as a person. How often have we felt that way about others? He was a teacher, a preacher, a friend. People questioned his motives. Jesus was misunderstood. He experienced sorrow, rejection, humiliation, was imprisoned, falsely accused, and his friends abandoned him. Jesus suffered, died, and was buried. He was like us in all things but sin.

Truly, our God is a God of the ordinary, but that’s not to diminish his extraordinary qualities. He was extraordinary in his ordinary life, and he’s part of our ordinary lives. We shouldn’t think we can’t bother him with our ‘ordinary’ requests, that somehow those things are too mundane for us to ask Jesus to help us with. That would be treating God like a busy corporate executive who has no time to deal with the daily challenges of our lives. We must not do that. Any good father wants to give his children good things, but we have to ask! God wants to be part of these moments. Remember the practical matter of feeding thousands of people? He got it handled in an extraordinary way. He provided water for the thirsty Israelites in the desert, parted the seas when they couldn’t get across, fed them with manna and quail. Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast. All, on the surface, are very ordinary things, but he used extraordinary means to accomplish those ordinary needs.

As children of God, we can boldly go to the heavenly throne and ask Jesus for what we want and need.  We can ask him to help us with problems, even those things like getting a stubborn lawn mower started, help with writing a homily, getting a spider to stop hanging off the mirror and crawling towards us as we are driving a car, you name it. No, I’m not kidding about the spider. Need a job? Ask for wisdom in your job search. Frustrated? Ask for patience. We shouldn’t love Jesus just for what he does for us rather than who he is of course. It’s not so much about the gift as it is about the thoughtfulness of the giver. We can and should invite Jesus into the ordinary aspects of our lives that he so much wants to be part of. I wonder how much we struggle unnecessarily because we simply didn’t ask our Lord to help us. Nothing is too small for him, and we should thank him for all the little things in our life that he provides daily, not just the bigger more obvious things. If we don’t ask, we won’t receive! Thank him when your stubborn lawn mower starts, your car is repaired for less than you thought it would be, you write an inspiring homily, or when the spider stops crawling towards you in the car. He is a mighty God, but a God who very much wants to be involved in our ordinary lives. Oh, and thank you Lord for handling the spider on the way home!

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

The Entombment of Rejection

This type of entombment can take many forms, some of which are:

Rejection by others:
Abuse, bullying, deliberate ignoring, unacceptance, and unkind teasing.

Rejection of yourself:
Self-destructive behavior (such as alcohol or drug addiction and self-mutilation), self-loathing, and poor self-esteem.

For now, I will talk about self-esteem.

Poor self-esteem makes so many things in life difficult, particularly our relationships with others. It makes sense that if we have a poor opinion of ourselves and don’t love ourselves (appropriately), it doesn’t help our opinion of others or our ability to love them as they are. We have to start by working on ourselves. After all, we can’t give to others what we don’t have (for) ourselves, i.e. love, respect, and kindness.

How do we know we have an inferiority complex, poor self-esteem or are insecure?
– By listening to our words to others about ourselves:
– Do we put ourselves down, i.e. say we’re stupid or an idiot… a lot?
– Do we unduly criticize ourselves over and above what is normal?
– Have we forgiven ourselves for mistakes committed in the past OR do we ‘should’ on ourselves? In other words, do we say ‘I should have done this’ or ‘I should have done that,’ but didn’t?
– Do we allow others to get away with things they shouldn’t, i.e. hurt us physically without doing anything about it? (We can discuss ‘enabling’ behavior later.)
– Do we feel the need to brag or boast about something in order to ‘prove’ to others we are a great lover, a good worker, a good parent, etc.?
– Do we do this because we need to convince ourselves of this, because deep down we doubt we are what we are boasting about? Because—think about it—if we are convinced, why do we need to convince others?
– We think whenever people are talking it’s about us.
– We are supersensitive and take things (said to us) personally, i.e. we respond (defensively). i.e. ‘What did you mean by that?’

In my next post, I will spend a little time talking about what to do if poor self-image is holding you back.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams