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Recognizing the Routine

We all love it when somebody does a favor for us. It is special, unique, unexpected, and welcomed. We feel loved. Someone went out of their way, thought about us, and made the effort to do something for us. We feel warm thinking about it.

But what if the same person does the same favor a year later? We may have the same feeling of happiness and contentment. We are not in shock, but we are surprised nonetheless.

What if the same favor was done to us every month, every week, or even every day? Now, things have changed. It is not special anymore. We feel fuzzy no longer. There is no novelty and we don't consider it amazing. The unexpected has become expected. The special has become routine.

This is a problem.

Let me present some considerations:

Your child gets a good grade in school. If it is an occasional event, there will be celebration, cheering, and compliments. However, if the same child gets good grades all the time, then it is routine. The celebration is not exuberant. Instead, good grades are now expected and the kid will face some questions if her grades drop a little.

Suppose a wife manages money well. The first time the husband finds out about her ability, he compliments her. But as she continues to do a task that was previously special, it becomes habitual and no one gives a second thought to it.

Suppose a husband cooks a dish out of the blue. It may not taste amazing but the family is happy (or at least feigns it). If it was the wife that did the cooking usually, she is relieved even though it is only one dish. However, if he starts cooking regularly, the celebration is gone because it is now customary.

Suppose a neighbor/employee/colleague at work goes above and beyond to help you out. If the help happens more frequently we stop appreciating the help. As Sherlock Holmes said,

“Watson. Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same.” - Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of the Creeping Man

At best we may even expect it, and at worst, we may wonder if there is any ulterior motive.

Who cleans the bathrooms in your house? I cannot think of anyone who would want to voluntarily do it. Yet, someone (in most houses) does it. Since it gets done, people in the house may not even be aware of when the task gets done. A contemptible job has now also become a thankless job.

What have we done?

Ironically, we celebrate random one-time efforts and overlook consistent hard work.

Who are the people in our lives who do the routine hard work? What is the work that is being done so routinely in our lives, that we don't recognize when it is being done and who does it?

Maybe we need to recognize what has now become prosaic and celebrate it. Maybe we need to find our mothers, our fathers, our children, our neighbors, our siblings, and anyone else and thank them for the special things that they do so consistently that it has become mundane.

The same pattern can carry over into our spiritual lives. God forgives us freely through Jesus Christ:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace - Ephesians 1:7

It is easy to forget the high cost that was paid to make this "mundane" gift of salvation and forgiveness freely available to us.

It can become routine and expected and thankless.


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