The celebration of the ordinary was first introduced to me by content from John Smeltzer. I loved the conversation then and it continues to be meaningful to me now. As Becky and I have continued on the Heart Living journey with Sarah Bingaman, the topic of on being ordinary has resurfaced in helpful [yet challenging] ways.

To cope with shame or fear related to who we are or about what we need or how we hurt we tend to reject anything ordinary about us and strive for the ideal.
— Sarah Bingaman

While the process of rediscovering our ordinariness is costly and takes courage, ordinariness is a most incredible state of being. For me, to arrive at ordinariness is to arrive at my reality, the truth of me — no pretense, no act. It takes less energy to keep up being myself, as I truly am. And the moment we arrive at some understanding of our being ordinary, we have a new life filter. When we receive feedback or the external expectation of another person, before we manage it and decide how to apply it,  we get to process these things through the filter of being ordinary — our self-professed ordinariness.

When I come to realize that I am ordinary, I can more easily sort through expectations [of myself and others] keeping those that fit who I truly am and setting aside those that do not. An expectation of another human [or an expectation of myself] is not intrinsically wrong or bad, but if I begin to build the internal scaffolding of my life, first around that which is imposed upon me, then I am no longer being true to myself. And if I am not being true to myself, then I have nothing true to offer to another. Nor can I be authentically present with them.

Ordinary is a journey. It is not easy and it is not immediate. But I have found this road to bring such relief. When I give myself permission to be ordinary, I give myself permission to be weak. I give myself permission not to know everything I need to know to do everything I need to do. I give myself opportunity to know others and be known by them, as we seek to create and build and do, together. Slowly, over time, I begin to set aside the walls and shields I have learned in (false)self preservation. And I am received [or not] for who I am — an ordinary human among other ordinary humans.

Being ordinary enables me to relate more authentically with God — allowing him to refresh the inner places of my heart previously hidden from him and potentially unrealized by me. When I cannot be weak, then he cannot offer strength. When I cannot be afraid, then he cannot bring comfort. When I cannot be sad or feel pain, then he cannot be with me in my sorrow. When I cannot be ignorant, then I have given no room for his wisdom.

Embracing ordinariness does not mean embracing a lack of excellence or even giftedness. It is simply the confession of need. What a beautiful human commonality — need. We hurt, we experience loss, we have weakness. What a relief to be ordinary. And what a gift, the openness and togetherness that comes from needing one another.


Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

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