Most days do not feel like an adventure.
In fact, most days, if I am honest, seem pretty ordinary.
Like today, for instance. Today I woke up in the cold darkness of the early morning. I dressed quietly as my wife and children were still deep in dreams. I packed my lunch, and made my way to work. I am employed at a paper carton manufacturing company, where I spend most of my days ordering parts to keep machinery running. Not exactly a job you would make a movie about, but it’s consistent and a good place to work. Anyways, there at work I was met by an onslaught of typical demands that make much of the day pass pretty quickly. I glanced away from my computer screen and realized it was already time to head home. Where did the last eight or so hours go? I took the same route home I have taken a thousand days before today. Once at home I was welcomed by a our two-year-old son, Wesley. He screamed, “Daddy!” and jumped into my arms, wiggling with excitement. My older two children, JulieAnna and Sawyer, slowly marched down the stairs and wrapped their arms around me. This is one of my favorite moments of the day. I kissed my wife, who was on the phone, and began picking up toys out of the middle of the hallway. The kids played video games and tablets. Patience and I talked as she worked on dinner. We ate together. I played some more with the kids. We put the children to bed. Wind down with Netflix. Then to bed ourselves.
I know tomorrow I will wake up in the dark morning once again, and hit repeat on the story of my life. The same routine. The same job. The same faces. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for my family, my job, and my life for that matter, but there is this nagging whisper echoing in my brain most nights when my head hits the pillow. It haunts the back recesses of my soul.
Did I get the most out of my day today?
Am I writing a good story with my life?
How can tomorrow be different?
I am not saying that I am necessarily unsatisfied with my life, but it is far from an adventure. Life is good. Life is pretty normal. But much of life is unfortunately ordinary and forgettable.
When Patience and I took our first trip to Seoul, South Korea to adopt Wesley we were approached by a woman on the street. She was beginning her normal commute home on a Friday evening. This complete stranger came up to us and invited us to have lunch with her on the coming Monday. We accepted with a bit of reluctance, but met her that Monday and had the best meal and conversation of our entire trip. Her name was MJ, and though I only had one lunch with her, I will never forget the lesson she taught me about life.
This is what I wrote about the experience:
For MJ Friday was just another day of getting off of work and starting her long commute home. She didn't have to catch up to us to talk. She didn't have to invite us to lunch. But because she did we experienced a memory we would have not had otherwise. How often do I pass up opportunities to reach out to someone else? How many times in all of my years at my job have I invited a person to lunch to get to know them? It made me wonder... how many memories have I forfeited because of it?
I want to be more like MJ. I want to invite a stranger to lunch. I want to buy coffee for a friend in need. I want to make moments happen where there otherwise wouldn't be one. God, please help me to never forget the generosity and kindness of this wonderful stranger, and help me to have the courage to be to someone else what she was to us.
So here I am at the end of another seemingly normal day. There was no lunch with a stranger today. There was no life-changing conversation, or exciting turn of events. No, today was a lot like yesterday and the day before that. But I can’t shake this whisper inside. The one I feel calling me into a life of adventure. The one that reminds me that today was swimming in sacred opportunities I more than likely just passed by. I am tired of forfeiting memories because I’m lazy. I am sick of looking at a screen instead of a sunset or into my childrens' eyes. I am not satisfied with my lifeless routine.
And so begins this journey for me. My first step into living intentionally. My first attempt into storming the gates of my ordinary life, and uncovering the beauty that’s been hiding just beneath my feet this whole time. I am not talking about extravagant changes. I do not have the money for exotic vacations. I do not have the resources or time outside of my family of five to commit to any major project. I am talking about changing what’s right in front of me. Maybe even just changing my own perspective. I know there is a better story awaiting me, and I am beginning to believe it is not a world away. It just might be right here in my own quiet town, or at my average job, or even in my little house with dishes piled up in the sink and toys scattered all over the floor. I am ready more than ever to embark on this adventure into the ordinary.