Extraordinary Transformation in an Ordinary Life

I tend to find joy in really simple things.
Tea.
Park benches.
Saturday Farmer’s Markets.
Watching Hallmark movies with my family.
Sunday morning church in my hometown.
Pretty ordinary things, really.

And somewhere along the line I started feeling guilty about it.

Was I missing out on “life-changing experiences”?
Was I living boldly enough for Christ?
Should I be dreaming bigger?

For a girl who is anxious enough on her own, these thoughts significantly added to my anxiety.
I never felt like I could truly delight in the ordinariness of life because I felt like I should have been doing something bigger, bolder, newer, and more courageous for Christ, in order to be transformed by Him.

But then, I was assigned a book to read in my Theology II class, a book that felt like it was tailored just for me.
Good News for Anxious Christians
I’m anxious. I need good news. I like this book.
Each chapter digs deep to get to the heart of ideas that some Christians tend to adopt as “good” and “healthy,” but they often leave us feeling, well…more anxious.
One of the ideas that the book addresses is how our consumerist culture tells us that we constantly need to be “transformed” through new experiences. The newest. The latest. The greatest. You know, the life-changing, faith-growing, all-emotional, heart-transforming experiences.
But Phillip Cary, author of Good News for Anxious Christians, challenges that idea by reminding us that our faith is not based on experiences.
His words on the subject were like cool waters rushing over the dried up desert of my anxious soul.

“What faith gives us is Jesus Christ….the Christian life is our life in Christ as well as Christ’s life in us…And now, yes, you have a whole life to live with Christ, our Bridegroom, and it will have to be different from the old life. It may not look so different at first. But you’re in this for the long haul-all the way to life eternal- so what you need is not a bunch of great new experiences, but a whole lifetime that grows out of the newness of Christ, like a mighty tree growing from its seed or a house built on a firm foundation. The process of growth and building is long and slow, and it’s hard work: it’s life’s work, not an experience. It’s not anything that can happen in one moment or one meeting or one experience.”

Isn’t it refreshing to be reminded that your growth as a Christian is not based on a continuation of new experiences? That growth comes from being renewed by the newness of Christ throughout your whole life, and that this can happen while you’re daily living what seems to be an ordinary life in the eyes of society?
But, here is the beauty and strength of ordinariness,
It’s lasting.
It’s a long-haul kind of thing.
It’s not a moment, or a fleeting high, but the process of a lifetime.
And it is in the process where Christ renews and transforms us.
And remember, your initial, ultimate transformation in Christ has already happened and it cannot be undone or lost.
Cary says,
“If Christ is in you, the greatest transformation of all has already taken place: you are born again into eternal life and you have become a new creation in Him, a new human being, united with Christ in a kind of spiritual marriage, having become one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17), together with all His people.”

And just like that *snaps fingers* my anxiety fled and peace flooded my soul once again.
I have been transformed. I am a new creation. And I am continually being renewed by the newness of Christ as I pursue Him and His glory in daily, enduring habits. Habits to choose life, to love God with my whole self, heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love His people.
And this doesn’t have to be found in an experience.
But in my ordinary life.

An ordinary life that happens to include
Tea.
Park benches.
Saturday Farmer’s Markets.
Watching Hallmark movies with my family.
And Sunday morning church in my hometown.

Pretty ordinary things, really.