A few weeks ago (Thanksgiving week, to be exact), I wrote a few thoughts on Instagram before heading to bed. I hit publish, sending it to Facebook too, plugged my phone in, and picked up my nightly crossword book. The next morning, I woke to those thoughts being shared thousands and thousands of times, messages pouring in, and comments flying into the threads.
In my fourteen years of online writing, I’ve never had a post take off like that.
Here’s what I said in that post:
Can we normalize things like builder grade oak cabinets? Kids wearing regular clothes that they half chose themselves? Leftover meat slapped on a hamburger bun because it’s Thanksgiving week and they’re not allowed to eat any of the food in the fridge? Fingerprints and dog nose smudges on the sliding door that’s been missing its handle since we moved in five years ago?
I’m team normalize dry shampoo a day too long. Team breath prayers of gratitude and not hour-long “quiet times.” Team paper plates. Team belly up at the island because the dining room table is covered in art projects and school papers and books and crusty Play-doh.
Let’s normalize un-curated anything except a fave Spotify playlist. Normalize crawling in bed at 8:30 to do crosswords for two hours. Normalize well intentioned and barely executed. Normalize four Target pickups in a week because the list keeps growing and something is always forgotten.
Let’s normalize the actual normal. That’s where all the good stuff lives anyway.
This is a pretty standard message for me. To be clear, I’m saying all of the above is normal, and yet it often isn’t normalized (shared, embraced, spoken about, etc.). I’ve never shied away from sharing real life lived and encouraging others to seek the extraordinary in their everyday. But something about this one hit just right, I guess. Maybe it was the mention of builder grade oak, the shade of honey yellow all too rarely showcased on Instagram feeds full of white cabinets. Maybe it was the timing right at the start of the holiday season, when everyone else’s perfection is on display and it’s all too tempting to jump in with our own unrealistic expectations. Maybe it was the “well intentioned and barely executed” line that seemed to resonate deeply with so many.
Whatever it was, it took off. Honestly, I got a little stage fright and didn’t pick up my phone for social media for several days. I made my husband look at the numbers whenever I got curious because I was sure there were going to be mean comments, and truly, despite the nature of an online platform, I don’t enjoy being the center of attention.
Of course not all of the hundreds and hundreds of comments were kind. It’s all too easy online to be unkind, quick to judge, and just plain rude. But the vast majority of comments and reactions were of the “me too” variety. So many others chimed in with their own stories of real-life living, of kids choosing their own clothes, of dry shampoo one day too long and paper plate suppers.
And while these are really small things, they add up to one richly lived life.
It made me think of Jesus, actually, as most things end up doing. It made me think of His real life, lived richly from its humble beginning. It made me think of the time His family left Him behind in the temple and how entirely relatable that story is. (Well, relatable to a point: They found Him teaching in the Temple, and His family didn’t miss Him for three days because they were traveling with so many relatives. They figured He was somewhere in their crew. But still! Pretty darn relatable!) It made me think of the meals Jesus shared with friends and how He got angry and sad and lonely. It reminded me that Jesus was a carpenter or stonemason, working with rough hands and carting around tools and materials and that I wish we knew more about His handcrafting. Did He enjoy His trade? Did He ever make small gift items for friends and family, or was He a big-projects-only kind of builder? What was His favorite meal at the end of the day?
It’s these human aspects of Jesus that my mind grapples with because the deity part of Him, though completely interwoven with His humanity, is overwhelming in its complexity. The human part, though, I can at least form reactions to and questions about.
Fully God. Fully man. The Holy Child we just celebrated at Christmas, mere weeks ago.
And maybe the point is that we can keep all the wonder, the celebration, the questions, and adoration going in our ordinary days, long after the cookies are gone and the tinsel tossed out.
Maybe we relate so deeply to posts like mine above because we do need to normalize feeling big feelings and sharing the everyday, ordinary aspects of our lives. Maybe grappling with the mundane, living life alongside beloved friends and family, going to work, and living for the will of our Father is more relatable than we think.
And what a gift that Jesus did the very same things. What a thoughtful and kind Creator God we have that He would send His Son here for us to know this — even now, thousands of years after His life, death, and resurrection.
As we keep stepping into a new year, let’s also keep telling the stories — stories of our normal, regular stuff. Stories of our extraordinary, holy, and human Jesus. And let’s especially keep telling the stories of where our everyday meets His glory.
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