The past couple days have been full of deeply tedious and fruitless tasks. By that I mostly mean sitting on the phone for three hours  (this is not an exaggeration) with Verizon desperately trying to get our Internet fixed. Yes, Automatic Voice Woman, I have unplugged everything and waited and plugged it back in, and no it didn’t work. And no, I can’t go online to run a diagnostic… because the Internet doesn’t work, remember?  And no, I can’t be available from 7am to 7pm on a week-day because, um, we have jobs so we can pay for the patchy Internet that doesn’t work.

But other than the above—the definition of a First World Problem, I know – we have been doing taxes, changing my name on more official stuff, running errands, and generally doing the mundane everyday stuff that isn’t fun but kind of has to be done.

If you get around on the internet much, you have probable read a lot of inspirational stuff that encourages us to live boldly and do what scares us. Do what scares you, do what has you living boldly and wildly, if you aren’t taking risks you aren’t living.  I’m not bashing these messages because they are good and inspirational. If everyone only chose what was safe, we would miss out on so much that is good. We need people who are living with abandon and courage.

But sometimes I just want to see some artsy slogans (you know, the chalkboard type that are so cool right now) that say things like “Today, choose personal responsibility,” or “There’s no shame in investing in security,” or how about “Be prudent.” Because you know what is really scary? Living ordinary life well. Paying bills. Scrubbing the mold out of the tiles in the bathroom. Going to a job you hate because others depend on it. Taking care of yourself, your family, and investing in your future. No one applauds you for it because no one really notices it.


I know that I say all this, but I still have it so easy. I feel so blessed to be in a position where I can do something I love, but even so, there is so much daily drudgery that comes with adult life wears me down.  I can’t even imagine how much more wearisome things will be someday when we have kids, a house, multiple schedules, aging parents, etc. After our weekend of so much frustration and boring responsibility, I read these words this morning and loved them:

Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine… The inspiration of God is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever.” -Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest

Here’s to holy drudgery, assuming responsibility, and living ordinary life well. Here’s to being genuine.

*Note on the image: A couple hours after posting this, I opened my email to see a message from my baby bro (who is ABOUT TO GRADUATE COLLEGE which is just crazy) that just had that in it. That’s why he’s awesome.

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28 Responses to Drudgery

  1. mary says:

    okay this is awesome, to say the least. you said it so perfectly with, “Because you know what is really scary? Living ordinary life well.” Yes! And I’m with you, why aren’t more people writing like this? I find it ironic that inspirational sayings are often anything but, inspirational, or at all applicable to real life, for that matter?

    • Hannah says:

      Sometimes Inspiration can just be depressing because then we just think that we are the weak link in the excited world. I cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like when we have sweet babes like yours! At least you get to squeeze those precious Bruno cheeks every day. : )

  2. Leslie says:

    Hell yes. Well done.

  3. Anna Louisa says:

    Yes! I get so confused when it seems like everyone in blog-land is constantly quitting jobs to “chase dreams”. Umm…what about when we keep the jobs? (And I’m trying to resist the urge to make a chalkboard saying “Finish everything on your boring to-do list. Now.”)


    • Hannah says:

      I know!!! Who is funding this dream chasing??? How do they get healthcare??? Oh wait…. we are funding it.

      Also, you have tots inspired me to get a chalkboard…. once I do it, can you come write on it weekly for me?

  4. Lawson Stone says:

    The thought that one of my children, unbidden by me, has started reading Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest” with anything like regularity, gives me a profound sense of encouragement. That book burned down my life about 40 years ago. Been rebuilding it ever since. Not a day but what something OC says comes to mind. Also on the magic of the ordinary, only two words: “Our Town.” Not Wilmore, but Thornton Wilder’s play.

    • Hannah says:

      I actually have been reading it for almost two years… and it still manages to burn down my life at least once a week. : )

      And Our Town is always perfect… both Wilmore and the play. : )

  5. Donna says:

    Hannah, thank you so much for this.This is so much of what I’ve been feeling lately.

    • Hannah says:

      Ironic as it sounds, wedding planning can bring about some of the worst drudgery, because you get so bogged down in silly details that you just wonder “HOW IS THIS LOVE OR MARRIAGE OR FUN???” At least, that was me.

  6. abby hummel says:

    As someone who spent three years in utter drudgery, working in the most boring job I can possibly think of… YES. You know what? It takes a lot of virtue and courage to look hellish drudgery in the face and keep going through that hell. I think the character I developed in those THREE WHOLE YEARS THAT I WILL NEVER GET BACK taught me some lessons: I knew I had dreams that needed to be chased! But I channeled that frustration from drudgery into the energy needed to fuel dream-chasing in a way that still fulfilled my responsibilities to my family (and mortgage company). I think THAT is evidence of maturity, not just running away because something isn’t fun.

    If we glorify running away from responsibility, we get… the Occupy movement and universal healthcare. And I don’t think that’s getting us anywhere fruitful. That’s not what I want my life to look like.

    Also, we could talk about the sometimes-drudgery of marriage and divorce rates in the same way…

    • Hannah says:

      You know, you are totally someone who I think of when I think of having to learn to work hard and be joyful even when everything is different than what you wanted… that’s another reason I love you!!! You are right — it is the truest test of maturity, but we have kind of glorified those that seek to eschew maturity… and then we model our government after ourselves.

  7. Liz says:

    I’m convicted by this post as well as those artsy slogans. How can I be so terrible at living ordinary life well AND so terrible at taking risks? Am I doomed to be a complaining control freak? Sigh. Good thing there’s Jesus.

    • Hannah says:

      First of all, you are so NOT terrible at ordinary life.

      And second of all, I feel like “good thing there’s Jesus” should probably come after every negative sentence ever.

  8. So true. Thank you for this.

  9. Kate Schweiss says:

    “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” –Blessed Mother Theresa

    Remembering this really helps me during the drudgery times…even washing the dishes for the bazillionth time, paying the bills or waiting on hold can be done with great love, and that’s what not only builds character, but brings us ever closer to Christ. Hard to remember and hard to do, but oh so helpful and true!

    • Hannah says:

      I lovvveeeeee that quote!!!! I will write it in my real life truth chalkboard whenever I get one. 🙂

      Your words also convict me that waiting on hold CAN be done with great love… And I probably didn’t do that.

  10. Jaimi Swenson says:

    Totally got done just giving a talk at the Christian Pharmacy Fellowship group about diligence, and yes, AMEN. That Oswald Chambers devo always hits me hard, too . . . Every. Stinkin’. Year. *sigh* 🙂

  11. Amanda says:

    Right on. Also, one must remember that every task is a game if you can look at it the right way. So said Mary Poppins, so be it. Although this would be admittedly easier if objects flew around the room to cheerful music at the snap of a finger. But we can’t have everything, I guess.

  12. Jackie says:

    🙂 this reminded me of the most recent SNL digital short. In case you missed it: http://www.hulu.com/watch/450051


  13. E. Henry says:

    HANNAH! You are SO inspiring! Thank you for this post — it was very, very encouraging and enriching.

  14. Pingback: This too, takes Almighty grace. | The Art in Life

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