We spend so much of our time searching for moments of grandeur. Yet what if there is glory to be found in our ordinary daily lives? What if our purpose isn’t displayed in our highest highs or lowest lows, but rather in the mundane days in between? Does our work matter?
In Glory in the Ordinary, Courtney Reissig answers these questions and others that many homemakers ask themselves during days filled with children’s activities, messy homes that need cleaning and long sleepless nights. Glory in the Ordinary is a short book that gives a thorough overview of Jesus’s upside-down way of serving others and glorifying God through the work of the home.
Summary of Glory in the Ordinary
Reissig’s writing is rich in its theology of work, community and rest. Although her intended audience is stay-at-home moms who view themselves as homemakers, there are many truths within these pages that can encourage any worker in a season of boredom or disenchantment.
If it’s not funny, it’s not worth sharing. If it’s not tweet worthy, it’s not worth talking about. If it’s not saving a faraway village for Jesus, it’s not worth our investment. We are living in a time when being ordinary is the worst thing that can happen to a person, and nothing screams ordinary like at-home work. (41)
In the first two chapters Reissig sets the stage by giving the reader a historical glance at the shift in our culture’s view of at-home work, showcasing how in the past sixty years a homemaker’s role in society has both evolved in task as well as value. She brings us to the reality that “we live in a society that doesn’t value ordinary work, and at-home work falls into that category” (49). She then builds her case for why ordinary work matters by sharing her theology of work, rest and community.
These chapters are the strongest in her book, chock-full of theological treasures. She argues that as image bearers, we are all created to work because God himself works, and we mirror a redemptive God when we bring order to chaos in even the smallest of tasks like picking up the living room and changing a dirty diaper. She points to the necessity of community and rest as a part of God’s good design rather than consequences of the Fall. The world does not need another Supermom to look up to. Rather, we need a well-rested woman who lives in community serving and being served.
Reissig finishes the book with a plea to look at our work with eternal value, encouraging the reader that all work serves the same purpose of worshipping God, pointing to God and pointing us forward to eternity (140). Therefore, work in the home, although ordinary according to Reissig, is good and important work.
Your work might be ordinary, but it’s filled with glory.
We mirror a redemptive God when we bring order to chaos in even the smallest of tasks.
Reflection on Glory in the Ordinary
Glory in the Ordinary is both well-written and theologically sound. Although there will be cultural differences when applying the book, much of what Reissig has written is rooted in a sound theology of work for all people. The idea that we all are trying to find meaning in our work is not a new one, but what Reissig has done is taken biblical truths about work in general and applied them to the specific work done inside the home (mothering and homemaking). Her delivery and theology of work will be welcomed in conservative circles, but those who lean leftward might have a harder time embracing some of her applications. Nonetheless, her overarching thesis that there is glory in the ordinary should be well received by all.
Here are a few specific areas where Glory in the Ordinary might come up lacking for some women. First, Reissig consistently uses words like “mundane and boring” to describe the work of stay-at-home moms/homemakers. In an effort to disprove culture’s claims on at-home work and give us a rich theology of work in the home, Reissig might have gone too far with her language when describing tasks that she personally identifies as mundane and boring. To her credit, this is a difficult topic to approach without using the same language that our culture assigns to motherhood, but she uses it so much so that women who are not “bored” or disenchanted with “mundane at-home work” might be offended and tempted not to hear her out. (I would urge them to press on because there are great truths within these pages).
Second, much of the work that she describes as mundane isn’t simply exclusive to homemakers. Single parents who work, unmarried people, couples without children, and roommates all have to tend to the work of the home. My single girlfriends who own homes have laundry to do, yards to mow, houses and cars to maintain. Many of them are practicing hospitality and have meals to fix for themselves and their neighbors. The distinction between work in the home and motherhood is not clear within this book as they are often intermingled. Thus if women who are not full-time homemakers read this book, they might find themselves frustrated as they are doing many of the “mundane” tasks homemakers are doing, just without children and without staying in the home full-time.
Reissig’s rich theology of work could be applied outside to a wider audience. Yet as a result of these two areas the nature of the book lends itself to a much smaller demographic: women who choose to stay home and now have found themselves questioning their work’s value.
Reissig is smart and compelling as she encourages us to view our work in the home for both the good of the world now and the good of the world to come (131). She points our eyes to loving our neighbor and reflecting God’s image as we work, bringing order out of chaos. This gives the homemaker an eternal purpose for the daily grind.
This book is designed for the homemaker who is in need of a robust theology of why she shouldn’t idolize her work nor neglect it, and I highly recommend this book for the stay-at-home mom who is wrestling with her identity in the home.
If you’re homemaker in need of a reminder that “God is glorified in the mundane work as much as He is in the magnificent” (25), Glory in the Ordinary is for you. If you’re currently searching for purpose in your at-home work and are looking for a theologically rich explanation of why our ordinary work matters, you too should pick up Reissig’s book. It will nourish your weary soul as you are reminded,
Your work might be ordinary, but it’s filled with glory. Your work might be mundane, but it’s taking you somewhere. Your work might be born out of blood, sweat, and tears (literally), but it’s producing life in others for people who have eternity in front of them. It’s good work. It’s meaningful work. And it matters to God (141).
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