We often look for epic… journeys, memories, trips, experiences… but what if the joy we’ve been seeking is tucked away between the mundane? What if thankfulness and gratitude are layered in the sandwiches you made for lunch this week? In going for a walk around the block… in the squirrel using the crosswalk… in the warmth of the sun on my back and the sound of the bird singing across the street? Today’s lesson is to find the joy in the mundane moments, because the secret is that they are actually epic.
Every Sunday I make us sandwiches for the week. We don’t have kids, this is just for us. We easily get busy at work and doing this for us means we can get a burst of energy to take us through the end of the day. Preparing sandwiches is not a glorious task. But today it was. With worship music blasting through my earbuds, I danced while I assembled, while I cut tomatoes, while I wrapped and labeled… I am thankful we have the means to buy sandwich guts. I am thankful I can stand at the counter with two working legs, assemble sandwiches with two working hands, see what I am doing with two working eyes, and listen to songs about God with two working ears. Suddenly, making sandwiches went from mundane, to joyful. From a chore to epic.
When we first moved into our neighborhood, I never saw squirrels. Bunnies galore, but no squirrels. A decade and a half later with mature trees the little suckers do their best to dodge cars and get to their favorite spots. Today, I watched one use the cross walk. I laughed out loud. Sitting alone in my yard, I laughed at a squirrel. It brought me joy and it was silly and in the grand scheme of life largely irrelevant. Yet in this super mundane moment, because I was paying attention to the world around me, I got to laugh. I got to experience joy. I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything or live up to a standard… I slowed down just enough to pay attention and catch a moment.
I think God is always trying to show us moments.
“Here, I made this for you. Here, you’ll like this. Here, this will make you laugh. I see you. Do you see?” And so today I am thankful for squirrels, because it reminds me that God sees me and loves me and makes moments for me.
Putting away laundry can feel like the biggest waste of time. Putting away a thing… I will just take out… again. But I have clothes. They fit. They keep me warm. They do their job when I’m at my job or at the store, or sitting cross legged in my yard. I have more than enough. I may not be as fashionable as an influencer tells me to be. I may be woefully out of date according to the next generation. But my skinny jeans fit. My jacket protects me from the rain (and the occasional April snow, thanks Illinois). As I folded pants and used hangers for shirts that were gifted from friends, shirts from volunteering at church, shirts I recently wore in Florida hanging out with my parents… as I put away each piece, I noticed… they held a memory. Each piece reminded me to be thankful. That this task, albeit mundane, is a reminder that I have enough. That I have more than enough.
Typically I hate dishes more than laundry. They feel like a never ending eternal chore. Use them. Clean them. Dishwasher them. Empty the dishwasher. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Piled in the sink, near the sink, typically results in a sigh of disgust. And yet, the reason they are dirty is important. We have food to eat. Daily. Multiple times a day. We have food to share. We have people to share food with. This morning I cooked breakfast for a friend. We shared a meal together. Her friendship means the world to me and dishes were so inconsequential compared to the moment I got to share with her. Dirty dishes mean food. They mean provision. They mean blessing. They are a gift.
The mundane is a gift.
It is a chance to look between the layers of a sandwich, in a pile of clothes, in a pile of dishes… to look between the lines of the cross walk and notice the squirrel. We look for epic and long for it. The culture tells us we should want grandiose memories and trips and pictures worthy of a magazine. We should want parties and celebrations and concerts and shows. But the culture is expensive, and honestly way too hard to live up to. What if it’s wrong? And joy comes from somewhere else?
What if joy is always there, but we only experience it when we notice?
Joy is when we slow down and look, and listen, and observe, and notice. In the moment. In between. In the mundane, in the momentous, in the routine, in the unique, and in the epic. The joy is in the noticing, not reserved for specific things or events.
You only experience joy, if you notice what is going on.
The sun is hidden behind a cloud, and the temperature dropped, but I’m wearing a hoodie from a company that brought me joy and purpose this past year. I feel the wind through my hair that is miraculously not gray (yet) and helps me feel beautiful. I feel the chill in my legs through the holes in my jeans that are comfy and fit just fine. I’ve been sitting so still that the birds hop around and don’t notice me, so I get the joy of up close noticing them. Their color. Their hop. Their playfulness with one another. God created them.
God created me, too. On purpose. For a purpose.
My purpose is epic. And it just may rest in the midst of the mundane.