Ordinary in an extraordinary way!

Look up ordinary in the dictionary and you get ˈôrdnˌerē/: an adjective meaning ‘with no special or distinctive features’; ‘normal’. Synonyms offered are ‘usual’, ‘normal’, ‘standard’, ‘typical’, ‘common’, ‘customary’, ‘day-to-day’ and “the ordinary course of events.” Ask a canonist what ‘ordinary’ means and they will probably answer ‘who’ an ‘ordinary’ is, that is, the pope, bishop of the diocese or any other person equivalent to him in law, as well as major religious superiors of exempt orders and congregations.

About a week ago, we began what we call Ordinary Time within the Liturgical Year. We get back into the ordinary course of events. Through the period of Ordinary Time following Christmas, we become increasingly aware that this marvel of birth and growth will mature into something challenging. However we need time to focus on this and we are gifted with the time of Lent which culminates in the great event of the Resurrection, the battle of life over death, light over darkness. The world will never be the same.

This said, no-one wants to be ‘ordinary’, we all want to feel special. We want to live exciting lives which give us interesting photos and bizarre statuses to post on Facebook or Twitter. We want people to think our lives are extraordinary.  Easily we forget that every single person on earth is completely unique and not exactly like anyone else. Every single life is special and extraordinary. We don’t have to prove ourselves to God or to anyone for that matter. It can seem that even in church circles, we have to do ‘big’ things. There is so much importance placed on having a big ministry or having that “special calling” to bigger things yet we often fail to recognize that God can do extraordinary things when we’re doing the ordinary.

Holly Gerth writes: “Ordinary is the lie we tell ourselves when we look in the mirror and say the girl looking back is no one special. It’s the false feeling that tries to overwhelm us when we’re standing in the corner at a conference and everyone else seems cooler. It’s the whisper of the enemy of our hearts when we get ready to offer what we’ve tucked away inside for so long. You are not ordinary. You are extraordinary. The God who spoke the stars into being knit together your soul. Chose the color of your eyes. Numbered the hairs on your head. Placed gifts within you like presents for the world to open with joy.”

With the commercial hype of Christmas having passed, it is easy to get dragged into a sense of a mundane life, void of fairy lights, candy canes and gifts under the tree. January can be somewhat of an anti-climatic month. Yes, we are all human; we don't have absolute power over everything; there will be difficult times, there will depressing times; and nothing good comes easy. We may get tossed around by the storms of life like ordinary people except for the fact that we serve God, who is able to speak to our storms and say ‘Peace, be still!’

Yes, God does call some people to go out and do new and extraordinary things but that doesn’t mean that what we do is insignificant. For the vast majority of us, He’s called us to live an ordinary life but He desires that we live it in an extraordinary way.  He wants us to give unconditionally without expecting return, to love in a way which the world doesn’t acknowledge, loving the poor, the weak, those whom the world deems ‘unlovable’. He wants us to be faithful in the little things, making the little sacrifices which no-one might even see. By giving time to someone in need of a kind word or gesture when you feel just like having your personal space. We don’t need a big “calling” to have an impact in this world.  Maybe that is why I love the lives of the saints so much, they teach us that God does miracles in the lives of ordinary people. He changes sinners into saints. All we need to do is live our ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. So don’t be afraid to be ordinary!