3 Secrets to Finding Meaning in the Mundane

find meaning in the mundaneI’ve been a little frazzled these last 2 weeks. The culprit? Those perpetual little tasks I finally check off the to-do list only to find them on my list again…an hour later. You know the ones. Dishes. Laundry. Incessant cleaning. Why are there still clothes on the floor??

And what is that monstrosity of clutter doing on my counter again? For the love of all things organized, can the mailman please stop drowning me in a mountain of papers to sort?! Can things just stay frozen in time (preferably after I’ve deep cleaned) so a girl can get some peace around here?? The futility of the mundane is about to make me go crazy.

At times I wonder, Am I just wasting my life?

Because all my work and toil feels in vain. Because the house will be a mess again by the time the sun sets. Because changing endless diapers or picking up messes for the umpteenth time gets old. Organizing a world that is destined for chaos makes you wonder if it’s even worth it.

But what if there is meaning in the mundane? What if you’re not wasting your life? What if I told you there is a bigger purpose at play when you sort the mail, do the laundry, and sweep the floors?

Here are 3 secrets I uncovered this last weekend that can help us find joy and meaning in the mundane tasks of life.

The mundane promotes praise.

How you view the tasks on your list will greatly impact your life (and your emotions). When I look at my to-do list, I mentally separate my tasks into 2 categories: the Meaningful (time spent with others) and the Meaningless (routine monotonous tasks).

Then, I try to equally divide my time between what’s important and what’s not. Clean a little here, spend time with the family there. If I could just find the balance I would feel satisfied, right? Wrong. Organizing my life this way always leaves me feeling distracted, anxious, and agitated. Either I spend too much time on tasks leaving little room for others, or I spend too much time in leisure leaving me frantic and overwhelmed by all I have left to accomplish.

“It’s not about finding the right balance between the meaningful and the meaningless. It’s about perspective. It’s about recognizing that all work is meaningful.”

I realized (aka my husband informed me) that it’s not about finding balance. It’s about my perspective. I actually believed some of my work was meaningless. Unimportant. When I spent time on these tasks, I actually felt like I was wasting my time. I started resenting my work because it was stealing time away from what I viewed was important.

But what if all work is important? What if all my tasks are meaningful?

In the Bible, God gave Adam a garden. Yard work, friends. Man’s first job. I’m sure it was beautiful, but who wants to clip bushes when he can hang out with dinosaurs all day? But God gave Adam a job and told him to cultivate it, to take care of it, to work it. The Greek word used for work in this passage is also the same word used for worship (Strong’s #05647). God didn’t see Adam’s daily chores as meaningless. He saw it as worship.

That’s the first thing I realized. All work is meaningful because God gives it meaning. Even pulling weeds. Because whatever I do, I’m working for the Lord (Col 3:23). And when I do it well with all my heart, He considers it worship.

The mundane prepares you for the future.

But what about those tasks that seem to be an end in themselves? Like when I clean for cleaning’s sake. I mean, how much eternal value can there be in scrubbing toilets? Do my monotonous tasks really fit into God’s greater purpose of my life?

Actually, yes. A clean toilet is part of God’s plan for your life.

Sometimes we get so focused on our future calling that we miss out on our present purpose. Sure, we were made for more than carpooling and wiping runny noses. But it’s those little tasks that are meant to prepare us for the bigger ones.

Adam cultivated a garden. David led a flock. Peter had fish. Their seemingly meaningless jobs are what prepared them for their future. Moses was tasked with leading sheep in the desert before he led God’s people through the wilderness. David managed a flock before managing a kingdom. Peter fished from a boat before fishing for men. When it seems mundane, there is purpose in your present circumstances.

“Sometimes we get so focused on our future calling that we miss out on our present purpose. But God is using the present to prepare you for your future.”

Whatever work you have, big or small, is intentionally given to you. This is your garden. This is your flock. Right now God is using your present to prepare you for your future. He is using the mundane to develop skills in you today that will be vital for tomorrow. Discipline. Patience. Perseverance. Joy. Contentment. Focus. Stewardship. Whatever He wants to build in you, He is using your current situation to do it. What lessons you can learn so that your work is not wasted? How are your circumstances specifically crafted to change your character?

The mundane produces faithfulness.

God has given you work to do. But what will you do with it? Will you manage it well? Will you fulfill your responsibilities without finding fault in them? God uses the mundane to produce faithfulness in us.

He starts by giving us something small to manage first. He uses it to equip and prepare us for a greater purpose down the road. One sheep at a time, God prepared and equipped David for the responsibility of King. And because David was faithful with the little he had, God gave him more to manage.

Recognizing these 3 truths about the mundane is changing my tune. I find myself grateful for the mess because I know God is using it to strengthen my character. He sees my mundane and will not let it go to waste. He is working out His plan for my life and using my routine housework to do it.

So when the laundry piles up, the kids get cranky, and weeds need pulled, remember it isn’t all for nothing. There is meaning in the mundane. May we remain faithful in even the most mundane tasks, for “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). May we fulfill our responsibilities with joy because we know they hold eternal purpose. God has a plan. And He will use all our work for our good and His greater glory.

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