An Ordinary, Flourishing Life

I think of my life in terms of these domains: spirit, mind, body, emotion, family, community, vocation, finances, and household.  A flourishing life exhibits health and vitality in each of these domains.

If we suffer a collapse in one of these domains, it becomes difficult to flourish.  If two or more collapse, we are well on our way to a train wreck.

I keep a practice for each of these domains by which I can improve or maintain the well being of each.  It is particularly important for householders to keep their balance, and especially difficult as well.  The life of a householder is full of obligations, commitments, and stress.

If we are determined to become “the best” in a particular domain, that translates into at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, or three hours a day for ten years, while still maintaining enough gas in the tank to keep the other domains in a state of health.  That is no mean feat, especially if you’re a householder.

What happens to someone like me if he lets go of excellence, and chooses instead to flourish? 

His practices teach him what’s important, teach him discipline, and give him a sense of accomplishment.  His practices lead to emotional and behavioral stability.  He is a blessing to his family, and blessed by them in turn.  He practices vulnerability, reaches out to others, and serves his community.  He becomes skilled at his vocation, financially secure, and lives in a clean and organized home.

He is an ordinary person, flourishing in an ordinary life.

Blessed Are the Ordinary

Blessed are the ordinary, for they are accepted and complete in Jesus.

Does that raise your hackles?  Sounds like heresy doesn’t it?  “Good enough isn’t good enough!  Don’t settle for anything less than excellence!”  After all, this blog is supposed to be about practice right?  About getting better?

The work of the enneagram is embracing the shadow, the part of ourselves we wish to deny; the part we hide from the light, from the gaze of the other, from the eye of God.  The grace of God has redeemed the shadow, as well as the False Self, the mask we forge to face the world.  By grace we are saved through faith into a single whole, our genuine self, an ordinary person.

Accepting who I am, the “bad” with the “good,” has been the most blessed and powerful experience God has ever given to me – the blessing of being ordinary.

The greatest gift God has given me is the gift of self-acceptance.  If everything I do has to be extraordinary, then nothing I do is good enough.  If nothing I do is good enough, then I must be a bad person; a fig tree that bears no fruit, fit only to be cast into the fire.

It’s hard to practice when I’m plagued by those kinds of thoughts.

We don’t despise a bouquet of roses because they look like every other.  We accept them gratefully as beautiful.

The odd thing is that being ordinary allows me to write, allows me to meditate, and allows me to practice.  If I am accepted and complete in Jesus, then I can gratefully bear the fruit God has given me knowing it is enough.

Shaming children who fall short of the 10,000 hour rule may be the road to greatness, but it is not the road to blessedness.  Enjoy the work of your hands, and with it bless the world, even when it’s only ordinary.