Do You Want a Revolution? Start With the Dishes

I still think I can make a difference beyond just my front door.

I still want to live radically for Jesus and be part of him changing the world.

I still think mediocrity is dull, and I still fret about settling.

But I’ve come to the point where I’m not sure anymore just what God counts as radical.

And I suspect that, for me, getting up and doing the dishes when I’m short on sleep and patience is far more costly and necessitates more of a revolution in my heart than some of the more outwardly risky ways I’ve lived in the past.

And so this is what I need now: the courage to face an ordinary day—an afternoon with a colicky baby when I’m probably going to snap at my two-year-old and get annoyed with my noisy neighbor—without despair, the bravery it takes to believe that a small life is still a meaningful life, and the grace to know that even when I’ve done nothing that is powerful or bold or even interesting, that the Lord notices me and is fond of me and that that is enough.

I’ve read a lot of really good discussions lately about the recent emphasis on “radical” Christianity (see one at an InterVarsity blog and one at Christianity Today). This Radical Christian movement is responsible for a lot of good, and I’m grateful that I’ve been irrevocably shaped by it for some 15 years. When we fearfully cling to the status quo and the comfortable, we must be challenged by the call of a life-altering, comfort-afflicting Jesus.

But for those of us—and there are a lot of us—who are drawn to an edgy, sizzling spirituality, we need to embrace radical ordinariness and to be grounded in the challenge of the stable mundaneness of the well-lived Christian life.

In our wedding ceremony, my pastor warned my husband that every so often, I would bound into the room, anxiety etched on my face, certain we’d settled for mediocrity because we weren’t “giving our lives away” living in outer Mongolia.

We laughed. All my radical friends laughed. And he was right.

We’ve had that conversation many, many times. But I’m starting to learn that, whether in Mongolia or Tennessee, the kind of “giving my life away” that counts starts with how I get up on a gray Tuesday morning.

It never sells books.

It won’t be remembered.

But it’s what makes a life.

And who knows? Maybe, at the end of days, a hurried prayer for an enemy, a passing kindness to a neighbor, or budget planning on a boring Thursday will be the revolution stories of God making all things new.   

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Tish Warren
Tish Harrison Warren is a transitional deacon in the Anglican Church in North America. She and her husband work with InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty Ministries at The University of Texas at Austin and have two young daughters. She writes for The Well, InterVarsity's online magazine for women. She’s also written for Christianity Today’s her.meneutics and was featured on the White Horse Inn. She's newly on twitter @Tish_H_Warren.