don't fear the dangers; be mindful
What we feel, see, taste, touch and hear — even at this moment — is all part of our story, and therefore important.The banal details that we’re so quick to dismiss or maybe even wish we could forget (read: the window that doesn’t open straight or without squeaking, the air conditioning that blows and blows to no avail, the putrid colored walls you haven’t gotten around to painting, the annoying tapping of your companion, the less than beautiful view out your front window) are all elements, which, if noted, have the power to distinguish our story from another and emerge as a genuine character in our own stories.
Mindfulness seeks to unleash the power of these small details in two ways.
Allowing for our genuine selves to emerge: When we are able to acknowledge the small details of our life and see them, not as nuisances or things to take for granted, but as elemental building blocks in our story, we understand what makes us. We react to the small dismissible details of our lives in a dozen different ways throughout our days; those minuscule details are collectively more significant in molding us than one major event and are specific to who we are. No other person will have the same exact blend of peculiarities or banality as we. Recognizing the mundane makes us richer, well-rounded characters in our stories. Stereotypes can’t stick. We become uniquely us, just as God intended.
Creating an empathetic environment: When we dismiss the mundane moments of our lives, we might think we are just giving the “best” version of ourselves to the world (who wants to hear about our leaky faucet?) and giving our attention to what really matters (the big stuff that will get us somewhere), but actually we are perpetuating an ethos wherein everyone feels the need to always present the best (read: false) version of themselves and suddenly we have a community of people, gasping for air behind their masks and believing that’s normal. It might be normal, but it ain’t healthy. Your honesty in your story creates an empathetic and safe environment for others to share their stories and to show their true selves.
In propaganda, there’s a technique called “glittering generalities”, something we are often unconsciously guilty of employing. We think we need to present ourselves in the “Christian” way, but have no clue what that actually means. We dress a certain way, slap a smile on our face while cursing someone in our head, lie and say, “Everything’s good” when someone asks how we’re doing, allow others to walk all over us in the name of mercy, etc. In the process of trying to fit our lives into the cookie cutter “Christian” ideal we lose our God-given individuality, our depth, our relatableness, and a true opportunity for God to sanctify us. Along the way, we adopt some “glittering generalities” that have no substance and make others feel like they’re interacting with a billboard rather than a person of flesh and bone complexity. We risk making Christianity feel like a thing to be propagated, rather than the soul-saving sanctifying relationship that it is.
Putting it to practice
We can practice mindfulness in the moments God gives us, and embrace our own specific blend of peculiarities in and around us, offering them up to Him in surrender as we do all things, for His glory and our good.
In the midst of our boring days, we can train ourselves to see through the lens of truth, remembering the hymn, “Come Thou Fount”, written in 1758 by Robert Robertson.
Hitherto, thy love has blest me
Thou hast brought me to this place.
Here is a place we can begin when we’re feeling discontent with our surroundings, or confused about our position in life, or just feel plain old weird. If we are walking with the Lord, this is where we have been brought, exactly where we are now. So let’s be here. Let’s wring out each and every moment and train our hearts and our eyes to see it all not through the temporal lens of our flesh, but through the eyes of the spirit. Let’s make note of what seems insignificant because it is by those very things He is being revealed and is revealing you.
And as the hymn continues, we can trust:
And I know thy hand will lead me
Safely home by thy good grace.