Day In and Day Out {Book Club}

Three months ago I wrote about my fear of flying, my vow never to fly again, and the way God showed me that refusing to fly was not the answer to my fear. In June I boarded an airplane. I was a bit nervous—though less nervous than I’ve been before a flight in years. Lift-off was nerve-wracking as we flew straight into a low-lying cloudbank and then out into the sunlight with a thick blanket of clouds beneath us. I was grateful for the sunlight, but the realization that I was soaring above the clouds in a metal tube over which I had no control was not, shall we say, a situation to inspire confidence.

And then there was the turbulence. Okay, so turbulence is probably an overstatement. The plane was mildly wobbly as it ascended. I tried to read, but the plane kept bumping about, small bumps to be sure, but nothing like a smooth ride.

I breathed and prayed and recited various eagles’ wings Scriptures, and even though every bump shot adrenaline through my system like I was facing a saber-tooth tiger, I was able to laugh at myself a little.

Eventually the air smoothed out, and for the rest of the flight I was able to distract myself with an engrossing book. I was even able to enjoy the aerial view of Lake Michigan as we descended into Chicago!

*****

In the circle of the church year, we are in the season of Ordinary Time. It’s not what it sounds like. Ordinary in this sense is related to ordinal, which means to count. In the church calendar Ordinary Time is time that is counted, time that counts, that matters. Over half of the year is Ordinary Time, and its liturgical color is green, the color of growth.

The bulk of our days are lived in Ordinary Time, in the daily choices of our ordinary, every day lives. The church fathers knew what they were doing when they called this season time that counts, when they chose the color green. They knew that it is in the commonplace that courage for the crisis is forged. They knew that it is in the daily choices we make that our character is formed. They knew that it is in the ordinary round of our days and weeks and months that we grow.

For we will grow. The question is how.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a good Christian girl who lived with chronic anxiety. She woke up feeling anxious, all day she dragged anxiety around in her gut like a ball and chain, and she went to bed anxious. She hated the anxiety, and yet it was familiar, known, so even as she hated it, she also held onto it. She made choices, day in and day out, for years, to hug anxiety to her chest, to define herself by the fear she carried with her. And the fear grew until it seemed to be part of her, woven into the very fabric of her being.

One day when she was almost 40, she got so sick of it, she let it go. Every time she felt anxious, she took a deep breath, and expelled the anxiety into the hands of her Savior. She asked Him to burn the anxiety up in the fire of His holy love. She did this over and over and over. Sometimes she did it many times a minute. Slowly, gradually, the choice to release the anxiety again and again into God’s hands bore fruit. She became less anxious. God’s love grew in her and began to flood the places that used to be crammed full of fear. She woke up feeling glad. Sometimes during the day she would feel an amazing sense of well-being and she would wonder, Is this what joy feels like? Is this what the Bible means by shalom? She would go to bed with a prayer of thanksgiving on her lips.

She was even able to do things that before had struck fear into her heart, things like having a difficult conversation when she’d rather have avoided it, or getting on an airplane when she’d much rather have stayed on terra firma.

Friends, I wish I could say that she lived happily ever after (and I believe she will), but I confess she still sometimes feels anxious. That’s only to be expected. After all, though we grow and change, often that growth is slow, and it’s only after the passage of many months or even years that we can see the fruit (good or bad) of those moment-by-moment choices we’ve made.

I do not yet respond to situations like flying with confidence and joy. I revert to my old habit of fearful inward shrinking. But I know how to respond to that reaction. I give it to God. I place myself firmly in His victorious hands, knowing that He holds me even if I don’t feel like He does. Emotions are not knowledge. They’re just emotions, and I don’t want to live from them. I want to live in and from truth. So I tell myself the truth: God loves me, God is with me, God is upholding me and surrounding me and indwelling me and blessing me, right here, right now.

By choosing to live in and from truth rather than fear in the ordinary daily moments of my life I am becoming more and more able to face unordinary experiences like flying with a smile on my face. If we wait for the extraordinary moments to gird up our loins, when they come we will fail. Life is mostly lived in the quotidian round of work and relationships and interactions of ordinary tenor. And it is precisely in these things that we can grow ever more like Christ, surrendering our whole selves to Him, moment by moment, day in and day out, living ever more fully in the light of His promises.

The only question is: will we?

///

Next week we start our August book— A Man Called Ove, you do not want to miss it!

August 8: Chapters 1-9
August 15: Chapters 10-19
August 22: Chapters 20-29
August 29: Chapters 30-The End

9 Comments

  1. Georgene Caoile July 31, 2017

    Excellent article. Thank you for writing of your experiences.

    1. K. C. Ireton August 1, 2017

      Thanks for reading, Georgene, and for taking a moment to leave a comment!

  2. Elizabeth August 1, 2017

    I think this is exactly right. We do change, but the change is slow. We only notice it looking back. It comes from small little daily choices. And we slip up and go backwards sometimes, but that doesn’t mean the change didn’t (or isn’t) happen (ing). I love this post so much because it is how I feel about my motherhood lately.

    1. K. C. Ireton August 1, 2017

      I’m so glad it resonated with you, Elizabeth. A hearty amen to this: “we slip up and go backwards sometimes, but that doesn’t mean the change didn’t (or isn’t) happen (ing).” Exactly! That’s been one of the most time-consuming lessons I’ve had to learn–that just because I fail doesn’t mean I’ve failed. Frank Laubach says: “This philosophy that one can begin all over instantly at any moment, is proving a great help.” Here’s to beginning all over again!

  3. Helena August 1, 2017

    “Various eagles’ wings Scriptures!” Hahahaha!

    This is beautiful, Kimberlee. I was talking with a friend this week about the process of change. She and I are both in a season of discouragement and frustration, and even as we sit together and voice our emotions and sort through our ideas about what God is up to, I can look backward and know that I haven’t always felt this way. There was a time before the season of discouragement, and there will be a time after. I keep imagining, though, that I’ll wake up one morning having turned a corner. Maybe I’ve read too many fairy tales. I have the idea that change will be momentous and spectacular, and I’ll be able to color in a square on the calendar to mark its arrival.

    When I’m honest, though, I remember how it’s always been. Deep and lasting change is more like a shifting of tectonic plates. You remind yourself of what is true, you cling to Jesus even when you’re furious with him, you imagine a world outside your current feelings and circumstances. And one day you realize you’re different, and the pain is less acute, and the sun is a little brighter. God owns time, and He’s not afraid of running out of it. He’s not in a hurry. Isn’t it maddening?!

    1. K. C. Ireton August 1, 2017

      Sometimes change is momentous and spectacular, like a volcano or a flood. Sometimes it’s slow and quiet, like erosion or the shaping of a shoreline by the tide. Usually the latter. Because, as you say, God isn’t in a hurry. He has all the time He needs. And, when we live in Him, so do we. It’s just that we forget that–in a culture obsessed with speed and “progress” and change for the sake of change, it’s hard to remember that slow and steady wins the race. It’s hard to believe that slow and steady wins the race–it so often seems to go to the fleet and the swift–but one of my eagle’s wings scriptures promises that those who walk in hope will not faint, they will in fact fly! Three cheers for slow!

  4. Amy Young August 1, 2017

    Kimberlee, I love this post so much. I had not understood the nature of “ordinary” — what life is breathed when we understand that ordinal days count. That we can change and grow and move closer through all the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to God and our true selves. Beautiful.

    1. K. C. Ireton August 1, 2017

      Amy, I think this is THE thing that God has been teaching me over and over again, that He is in every moment and at work every moment, and He wants me to work with Him, or let Him work through me, or in me, or however you want to phrase it. Every moment matters. I don’t want to place undue pressure on people when I say that, because that’s counterproductive and unhelpful. I only say it because it’s been so healing for me to realize that Real Life is happening right where I am, and if I keep looking elsewhere for it, I’m going to miss it. Knowing every moment matters, because God is in it, makes me want to pay attention and stay alert and be awake right here, right now, in the life I have.

      1. Amy Young August 1, 2017

        I didn’t feel pressure from your comment :). Instead I feel like cheering. So many of the messages—whether overt or covert—about about BIG and WOW and IMPACT. We miss what is happening in the slow, small, incremental days. Earlier this summer one of my nieces went on an overseas trip and when she returned, one of her friends lamented to me, “We tried, but it’s so sad that E just wants to be a librarian. Does’t she want to do something big for God?” I lovingly nearly took this girl’s head off. I do not want my niece shamed for “just being a librarian.” There is no “just” about it! How often we confuse location or title with importance. Keep preaching to us! We all need it 🙂

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.