This morning I painted a teaspoon. Not a fancy one, or one of the cheap, bendy ones I reserve for putting in the kids’ lunchboxes, but just an ordinary one from the kitchen drawer.
In fact that’s the word that comes to my mind when I look at this spoon – ordinary.
Useful, certainly; ready-for-action, definitely; but resolutely ordinary.
So I’ve been reflecting today on what it means to be ordinary. Which is, by definition, what most of us are:
or·di·nar·y – With no special or distinctive features; normal.
It’s unfortunate that ‘ordinary’ has come to be an insult. Our culture finds it hard to honour the everyday and tends to despise (or ignore) the ‘unexceptional’. To be significant, the media tells us, you must be exceptionally rich, or attractive, or talented. It’s sad to say but I wonder if the church often does the same.
And yet, in the Bible it seems that God doesn’t only use people who are exceptionally talented, or exceptionally rich, or exceptionally beautiful, or exceptionally strong or exceptionally clever. On the contrary he mostly uses normal, faithful, obedient, available ordinary people. Moses and Gideon, Esther and Mary, John and Peter. All unexceptional people to the untrained eye, mostly living very ordinary lives until they encountered the living God.
Like this spoon, which was surprisingly difficult to paint because of the intricacies of the ever changing reflections, light shining onto these ordinary people lifted them into the extraordinary. Though they must receive honour for their obedience and willingness to serve, the glory of what God did with their lives belongs to him.
I also struggle sometimes with the ordinariness of life. The snapshots I see of other people’s lives on social media look so much more interesting than mine! Even though I know that they must also have to go to the shops, cook dinner, do the laundry, help with homework and a million other everyday things; I still get frustrated with the proportion of ordinary in my life.
But the whisper I’m hearing today through my teaspoon is : Don’t despise the ordinary.
It took me an hour of looking and sketching and painting to realise how complex and beautiful this little spoon actually was, and how its scratches and dents make it unique. I’d dismissed it in a second as ordinary and uninteresting, and yet on closer inspection found that the light dancing across its surface was so complex that it was both lovely and too difficult to capture.
I wonder if this is a good way to react to the ordinary? A good way to react to ‘ordinary’ people and to my frustratingly ordinary life?
To choose look for the light of God as it plays across the surface.
His light, his fingerprints, are all across my ordinary life if I stop to search for them. Beauty hidden in the ordinary, blessing waiting for me to find it. I just need to take the time to look.