By: Emily Messiter
For as long as I can remember, my least favorite day of the year has been the end of the Christmas season, when all the decorations come down and the house goes back to “normal.” I tend to not get super hyped about Ordinary Time, but I just returned from Mexico City, where I started thinking of “normal” in a different light.
I was struck at how similar my mission week was to normal life. Instead of being able to leave my phone and laptop at home, I still had people to email, lessons to plan, and work to do throughout the week. Even the encounters with my friends in the garbage dump were strikingly normal. I found out my 10 year old best friend loves the movie Hotel Transylvania and saw her little sister dressed up in a princess gown. We talked and joked and were serious, just like I would with my little sister or a kid I babysit back home. My reflections climaxed one day on mission when I started feeling sick after arriving at the garbage dump. A fellow team member prayed over me for healing, and then he encouraged me: “But in the meantime, don’t waste your suffering.” There is so much to be said about choosing to not waste our suffering (that will have to wait for another post!) but what really captured me was that first phrase, “in the meantime.”
We live our lives in the meantime. We know that we are en route to our eternal home, but how often do we disregard the meantime, living for the big experiences and considering the “normal” to be devoid of value? There are certainly times when I look at my well-planned out day, subconsciously think, “Ok. Just a normal day. I got this,” and proceed to go through school and work on autopilot for the simple fact that I anticipate nothing out of the ordinary. Even prayer can take on a certain superficiality because I don’t feel the need to cry out to God in praise or petition.
What made “normal” different in Mexico, and what lesson do I want to take home with me? The difference was that I walked in the confidence that God’s Kingdom was alive in me and in the people I would meet that day. I knew that my intent was to allow Love - not fear or anxiety or pride - to have the final say in each decision I made. I trusted that even if I was sick, God was still a good God who was good at being God. I believed that whether He came in a mighty wind or a still, small voice, His power was present and on the move. I spent my “meantime” moments in affirming conversation with my teammates, resting in silence, or rededicating my day to God and asking Him to show me His presence where I was previously blind to it. In short, I chose to be present to the meantime rather than disregarding it while waiting for the next big moment.
We are all waiting for something - ultimately, Heaven - but we also anticipate many different milestones in this life. I don’t know what your “meantime” is right now - maybe you’re a second semester senior, a single woman struggling with the question of vocation, or settled into a career but wondering if there’s more. We talk about waiting a lot in Advent, but sometimes it’s harder for me to believe that God has not lost me in the Ordinary Time. But here is the truth: He has not lost you in the details. He’s not scrambling to bring something good out of that mess you deem inescapable; He has not abandoned you to your own devices. He’s with you in the meantime; He’s the Alpha and the Omega but He’s also here in between, building His kingdom in you and around you and inviting you to help Him create something beautiful.
As we journey for several weeks in Ordinary Time, let’s spend time in the Gospels pondering the disciples, who witnessed the mighty ways Jesus manifested the Kingdom and who also lived all those daily moments in between. I firmly believe that Saints are made in the meantime. I don’t know what the apostle James the Lesser did on that random winter day of 31 A.D., or what Mary Magdalene’s first thoughts were when she woke up in the morning, but I think at the heart of a Saint is a firm conviction that Emmanuel has chosen to stay with His people and that the Spirit is always stirring within us, inviting us into the romantic and adventurous and creative Heart of the Father. What if we refused to accept a mediocre, bored existence? What if we walked into our not-so-favorite classes, our offices, or our family’s homes, rooted in the truth that the fire and spirit of our Baptism accompany us?
In John 10:10, Jesus invites us into abundant life, and I refuse to believe that His abundance is restricted to Pine Hills Camp or a mission trip in Mexico. Abundance awaits us once we let Jesus break down our neatly packaged idea of “normal,” and let Him take us up on our cry, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” And so we continue to wait in hope for all the good that is to come - be it graduation, a promotion, a relationship, healing, or ultimately, Heaven. But in the meantime, let’s show up. Let’s build His Kingdom. Let’s be revolutionaries.