I woke up Tuesday morning and lay in bed for just a second or two before my mind already started focusing on what my day would look like. I would normally hit the snooze button and roll over for another eight minutes before hitting the snooze again. Like shampooing, I would repeat this process until I could not deny starting my day any longer.
I wasn’t always like this. After my husband left, I slept maybe two to three hours a night for several years. A combination of trauma, fear, and responsibilities way greater than any one mama should have to handle kept me awake and working over 20 hours a day, day in and day out for years.
It probably was not healthy, but I was ultra focused. I spent vast amounts of time “in the zone,” and accomplished things no one else had done – literally in some cases! It’s not a place anyone should live in for years, as I did, but it is a place I need to access again now that my life has gotten easier and I have gotten softer.
For the past two or so years, I have been doing better in the ways of the world. I have a better job, better healthcare, more time on my hands. There are so many things in my life that are better now than they were 10 years ago. I can sit back and enjoy life and more of the freedom I have than I once did.
Yet for the past two years, I’ve been missing that call to rise to challenge. It sounds crazy in the soft world we live in, but I am a firm believer that we need difficulty in our lives in order to live our best lives.
I believe that is part of the insanity we see today. Americans and much of the modern world have easy lives. We don’t toil in the thorns the way Adam and Eve did. We don’t fight off wild animals the way Native Americans did. We don’t travel vast oceans and fear falling off the face of the Earth the way early explorers did. We don’t fear the Black Plague the way Europeans did.
We sit in climate controlled homes, cars, and offices. We shop the latest brands and easiest to prepare foods. We have almost any item we want delivered where we want it within 48 hours and have any meal we want delivered within minutes from Instacart, Door Dash, and other places. We have Uber drivers so we can relax on the way to vacations and don’t even need to ask family or friends for rides. With modern medicine, we don’t even experience real pain in childbirth anymore and the push to end any suffering through suicide seems to eliminate any question about whether suffering can be redemptive.
I could go on, but I could never list all the comforts we have today. Most of them we don’t even appreciate but, instead, take for granted, things like running water, indoor toilets, and warm blankets.
A Lack of Suffering Creates Suffering
We are created to struggle. When we have no struggles, we create them ourselves, consciously or unconsciously. It, in conjunction with the diabolical, is part of what we see today. Gender dysphoria, divorce, racism, abortion, addiction, these and many other evils are humanity’s way of coping, not with hardship, but with lack of initial hardship. The evil lack of hardship produces, results in visible evil we can identify (like those listed above). Visible evil produces victims and a desire to ease the suffering of those affected by it.
Unfortunately, our desire to ease suffering never treats the root cause of what ails the person. It’s like giving a cancer patient hair growth syrum when they rally need chemo. Without treating the root of the problem, we will never cure the disease. Hair loss is not the disease; cancer is. Prejudice is not the disease; lack of struggle and the ability to struggle well, is.
Choosing to Struggle by Choosing to Live Not Ordinary
I woke up Tuesday, with an incredible desire to figure out what it means to Live Not Ordinary as I have been saying I’ve wanted to figure out for two years. I woke up deciding to begin then and there.
I started small. I did not get out of bed right away but, after saying my one minute God Morning God Prayer, I chose to read instead. I picked up the book I’d brought to bed but had not read the night before, Overcome by US Navy SEAL and Wounded Warrior, Jason Redman. The book is broken up into manageable chunks within each chapter so I was able to read a good section before starting my day. It’s amazing how those few minutes of reading about challenging myself changed my mindset from, “I want a few more minutes of dozing,” to, “How can I apply what he teaches to what I need to get done today?”
It’s was such a small thing, and it was so valuable.
The ordinary thing to do when your alarm goes off is to hit snooze. I’d picked up a book instead and saw an immediate mindset shift.
By choosing this teeny bit of struggle, I’d changed how I approached the day. I knew that is what God was calling me to. How else could I explain literally waking up to that desire. You may not wake up with that same desire, but you are reading this for a reason. God speaks to each of us in different ways. I believe He is speaking to you right now.
I believe He is asking you to introduce deliberate struggle into your life. I believe if you do not choose struggle, struggle will choose you. I believe struggle makes us better people if we seek to walk through it intentionally. I believe struggling well makes us more peaceful, more confident, more intentional, more purposeful, more compassionate, more humble, more gracious. I believe struggling well makes us more who God creates us to be in the first place.
I’m still not entirely sure what it means to Live Not Ordinary. What I do know is that I want to find out. I know I will have days I do this and days I bomb at it and feel like I am starting all over again. I’ll write about that another time.
My time each day is limited, and I don’t want to spend hours writing posts when I could be out living Not Ordinary, but I do want to document what I am doing and lessons I learn along the way. I plan to use both my own experiences and that of experts I study in these pages.
I hope you follow me. I hope you share what I am doing. I hope you pray for me and ask the Lord to help me answer His call.
Most of all, I hope you choose to struggle well too.
Gratitude Journal April 15, 2023
- Making it to Mass when I didn’t think I would.
- US Grace Force’s podcast with Father Chris Alar on the message of Jesus’s Divine Mercy.
- Understanding why we cannot condone women’s ordination.
- Hearing of the conversation between Jesus and satan.
- Knowing Jesus wins!
- Ideas that came from today’s Catholic Single Moms’ Zoom session.
- Understanding God is calling me to speak out more courageously on tough issues.
- Another GORGEOUS day!
- O coming to see Nefarious with me.
- A good conversation and nice visit with my son.
- Walking back to my car at the ice cream shop and talking to the man in the parking lot.
- the wild thunder, lightening, and storms and making it home safely.
- F winning his game today.
- Getting to receive Jesus in the Eucharist when I did not think I could today.
- B telling me report cards are not due for a few days – Phew!