If I could choose one phrase to perfectly sum up my stage of life, it would be “in the trenches.” I’m in the trenches of motherhood, playing carpool taxi, housemaid clean up, chief organizational officer, head referee, and principal disciplinarian every day. I’m in the trenches in my marriage, fighting for even a simple date night, fighting for connection in the busy, fighting to stay together through the hard stuff of parenting. I’m in the trenches in my life too, my own personal time of trying to grow my dream project from the ground up, putting in hours of blood, sweat, and tears often to little or no applause or grandeur.
Yes, the trenches are where I dwell.
I don’t mind the trenches. I’ve made peace with this season, and yes, I recognize it for what it is—a season. I live comfortably in the days of laundry and soccer practice, working solo at home, pinching pennies to make the dream of our ordinary life squeak by. I don’t often envy; if I’m being honest, I’m usually too tired. And I actually love this space I’m in. It feels right and comfortable and even blissful at times.
If I could choose one phrase to perfectly sum up my stage of life, it would be “in the trenches.” Yes, the trenches are where I dwell.
But then, there are those moments…
Moments when I take a quick break between cleaning bathrooms and picking up roughly 37 single socks from the floor. Moments when I need a brain break. Moments when I start “the scroll.”
Now, I want to say first that there is nothing wrong with taking a break. There is nothing wrong with “the scroll.” And I don’t always let it affect me. But sometimes when I’m at just the right space, hovering somewhere between disgust (have you seen a boy’s bathroom?) and disillusionment (I worked so hard on that project for no likes!), it hits hard.
It hits hard when I am staring at the feed of someone with a glamorous life. When I am confronted with the snapshots from a friend or a blogger living a bigger life in a perfect house, taking a glamorous trip, or raising a beautiful, perfect family. I don’t want to feel envy or jealousy or, even worse, a dreadful blow to my self-esteem, but in those weak moments, I do.
You see, Instagram life is so perfect. It’s rarely messy. It’s mostly carefully cultivated. And yes there are people living lives much more glamorous than my ordinary “in the trenches” day-to-day. Knowing that it’s a highlight reel doesn’t make the sting go away. Knowing everyone struggles with something and that nothing is ever perfect doesn’t lessen the stress of one more day of carpool and kids bickering and plain old ordinary date night at Chili’s.
It still feels, well, ordinary.
It’s hard to make peace with the ordinary life when the world throws slogans and pictures and advertising at me every day telling me to strive for the extraordinary. It’s hard for me to reconcile my big dreams with the trench I’m in trying to accomplish them. I struggle with envy when I’m walking this line of the scroll. I know on one hand I am blessed to even have an ordinary at all, but on the other, I struggle through wondering why my ordinary doesn’t have a private jet whisking me and my beautifully dressed, without a character t-shirt in sight, family off to Greece.
Why is my ordinary so ordinary?
I have come to believe that the ordinary is where life happens. Anything extra, the things we show to the world, that is make-believe. Yes, I do know that there are people who live glamorous lives with jet-setting families and perfection. I know people vacation in Aspen and travel to Saint Tropez every summer. I know this, but it’s not ordinary.
You see, Instagram life is so perfect. Knowing that it’s a highlight reel doesn’t make the sting go away. I struggle with envy when I’m walking this line of the scroll.
I may live in the trenches of ordinary with my family, but when I think about the love between us and the love of God that unites us, I realize there is nothing ordinary about that at all. Cuddling my children in quiet moments and being the one to kiss away the tears seems extraordinary when I think about the love pulsing behind it. Spending just a few quiet minutes really connecting with my husband in the fleeting moments after the kids go to bed, those moments are miracles if they’re bathed in the love we have for each other and the commitment to stick together through thick and thin. The family vacation that could only be a road trip because it’s all we could afford but created memories upon memories upon memories, it is extraordinary because the memories are what matters, not the destination.
The love we have been given, each and every one of us, is extraordinary. There was another person who walked this earth, and His life appeared ordinary, but the legacy He left was anything but… Jesus did not live a glamorous life. He did not hang out with glamorous people or do glamorous things. But He was extraordinary in every sense of the word. Because He lived love in the flesh. And He gives us that same love today, freely, for us to give to each other.
And that is extraordinary enough for me, any day.
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