It is hard to believe that the omnipotent God, Creator of all the universe, wants to use everyday, ordinary women — your typical suburban housewives and mothers and working-hard-just-to-scarf-down-supper gals who are too tired to stand up straight without two pots of coffee, three chocolate bars, and insole support.
But that is, indeed, who He uses.
I only recently came to understand that. I’m still learning it, actually. Which is why I am writing this book. I need something, someone to explain to me what really matters, what the work and the laundry and the frustration and the late nights and the bills are all for, why I should keep caring and dreaming and loving. I need to know this all matters.
But I don’t find an easy answer. At first, I thought maybe there would be a speaker or an expert or a book or something. Instead, God seemed to tell me to write this book. I can’t wait until it’s done so I can find out how it ends.
It’s hard to get to the end some days, though. I feel like we work so hard and the laundry keeps piling up, almost as fast as the dishes in the sink and the appointments on the calendar. How do I get from the busy, crazy now with the crying babies and the minivan problems and the soccer snack schedule and the school papers and the bills (always the bills) to the end where we, along with all of God’s love, win?
I used to think success was doing some big, giant service for God. As a child I read about those holy women who risked their lives to spread the gospel on the other side of the equator, telling naked murderous tribes of God’s love and winning the admiration of every Christian American teen girl along with jewel-encrusted crowns in heaven. That would be me, some day. Until God told me at the age of 20, “Absolutely not.” So I failed at missions, apparently.
Then I thought maybe I would win by being Super Christian. So I spent my twenties working hard for grace (yep, you read that right), wearing all the right clothes and listening to all the right music and having all the right friends. I walked to church in the rain in high heels. I led ministries every day of the week. I sat in the front row every Sunday, my children’s hair plastered down straight and smoothed down my skirt under my Bible and sermon notebook and flashed my winning, holy smile. I even reached the epitome of American Holiness — church staff member. But God said, “Now, you’re done.” Done? At 30?
I sure wasn’t done trying. I tried Perfect Suzy Homemaker. Perfect Happy Homeschooler. Super Mom, Super Wife, Super Woman. When it came right down to it, I was as good at perfection as I was at squeezing my super rear into a leotard. Not pretty, and only my husband would love it.
My man did love me through each and every attempt to super-awesomize myself, shaking his head and murmuring calming, affirming love over my crazy attempts to make myself matter. Ironically, the most important man in my life taught me the most about how to be a woman.
But meanwhile, a young lady was growing up right there beside me. Overnight, this little girl in pigtails, pink t-shirts, and plastic purses matured into a young woman. I suddenly found myself biting my tongue, checking my grumblings, and watching my words because someone was examining my womanhood, and I wasn’t sure what kind of pattern I was demonstrating.
How can I give her, my favorite representative of the next generation, the keys to female success? What secrets for greatness can I bestow, when I struggle myself every single day to find the meaning in the madness? The stakes rose suddenly higher, now that it wasn’t just my own life but hers, as well.
So I started looking around at you, friends. Some of you seem like you have it so together that I try hard not to mutter unkind things (it’s easier to love someone whose kitchen sink is dirtier than yours). But when I started to really pay attention, I noticed a pattern.
Everybody struggles. Some are straining through marriage. Others are frustrated with children. One with a dying husband. Another with a crummy job. Special needs, difficult in-laws, sickness, divorce, natural disasters, tragedy. We all bear our own burdens, some just reveal more about their problems than others do.
Does this mean we don’t matter, that we aren’t making a difference, that all we can do is just exist for this season or this year or this life in hopes that we don’t make things worse?
Perhaps that’s what the enemy wants us to do. It’s the biggest lie that Satan uses against us — that we are not like God. He told this to Eve in the garden, whispering to her that she needed to grasp more, do more, become more to be anything like the Creator, to have any kind of power or understanding.
But in reality, she was already created in His image. She was already like God in so many, many ways. When she stopped recognizing that, stopped praising Him that she was fearfully and wonderfully made, stopped boldly obeying Him by using her gifts and abilities to their fullest, she lost it. She lost the radiance, the presence, the power of God in her person.
I sin the same way.
Marianne Williamson could have been talking about my innermost thoughts when she penned her famous paragraph.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
So how do we recapture that radiance? How do we shine forth the image of God, powerfully reflecting His presence and His purpose in our lives? How does this ordinary, everyday life create extraordinary changes in our homes, our churches, our communities?
This is true success. And that’s what I want to achieve for myself, for my daughter, for my neighbor, and for you, friend. I believe that God who called us to glorify Himself will do it through us (1 Thessalonians 5:24). We can, indeed, rock our ordinary lives when we reach out and change our world, one ordinary day at a time.
What do other readers think of this book? I wanted to know, so I gave it to dozens and dozens of real women — moms, wives, single gals, ministry leaders, teachers, and friends just like you. And over 40 of them personally endorsed the book for it’s encouragement, advice, and “real” factor. Here’s what Jenny says:
Don’t let the whimsical cover and title fool you! Rocking Ordinary reaches inside you, to those hidden places you don’t discuss with other people. Lea Ann says, “Me, too,” and walks with you on a journey of grace and hope.
recovering perfectionist, special needs mom, and writer, jennyherman.com