Written by Joshua Wood. Media by Taylor Harpster.
When I was first asked to write out my testimony for this series, my initial thought was, “Oh, cool. Someone thinks I’m interesting!” As a long-time home-schooled, pastor’s kid (PK), it felt pretty good! So, with the empowerment of someone thinking that I was not boring, I tried to figure out how to condense my entire life into about a page or two. Easy, right? Then I had an epiphany. What I am writing about is not about me. Well, not just me. It is about what made me who I am: the story.
The more I thought of the most important parts of my story, the things that helped to create who I currently am, I was immediately drawn to the dramatic parts. These are the pieces that are cool and that make me look interesting or seem like I have major depth and insight. They are the stories of going to Africa to serve the church when I was twelve, petting rhinos, and holding chimpanzees. I thought of the dramatic time of going through two major church splits and watching many friends leave through the anger-fueled transitions, which prompted me to become a leader for those around me who were younger. I remembered the painful story of losing a friend to suicide and dealing with what that means. While those are stories that have helped refine me and have caused me to make choices about who I truly desired to be, I do not necessarily see those as the stories that define who I am. They are glimpses into how I operated in those situations. Curiously, the more I thought about what best defines me, the more I realized it was the daily choices or seemingly boring days that seemed to have the most impact.
In these ponderings I found my heart remembering the days in high school, which involved me helping my mother, who developed a difficult sickness, settle into the couch so she didn’t have to spend the majority of the day in bed. Then, I would finish the schoolwork so I could and go to practice. It was a daily process of not knowing how she was going to wake up: feeling fine or like she had been hit by a train. It was unsettling, especially for a young sophomore in high school. Yet it was through those daily moments and choices that seemed so small that God worked with me. It was painful watching her struggle to make morning tea when I knew she wanted to do so much more. It was in these small moments that I learned more than from any of life’s “big moments.” In those seemingly insignificant daily choices, I found God shaping my character for the larger choices.
Another example of learning from the mundane would be working with my father. First, we’ve worked together in the ministry setting. Whether it was moving chairs and tables, helping with lock up for the church facility, or getting there early and staying late to manage stations at church events, I always remember being there serving. Sometimes we worked together and other times I took direction from him and worked on my own. Second, I’ve worked with my dad on construction projects. Some of my earliest memories growing up are sitting on the concrete steps, which go down into the garage, and watching my dad build things and occasionally get tremendously flustered. I remember crawling under the house with copper pipes and a blowtorch to set up the plumbing. Even now, when I go home on breaks, I often find myself helping build walls or paint cabinets for clients, as my dad has more recently become an independent contractor along with being a pastor.
It is from these daily or weekly times of struggle, service, and labor that I see God the most. Yes, in those big stories God was definitely moving and instructing me in the way I should go, but it was in the daily motions of life that He was refining me. When I helped my mother settle in for the day, I saw how God uses us to care for others. In my mother’s resilience and consistent worship, even through the hurt or wondering about why God might not heal her, I saw glimpses into what true worship can look like: broken and messy, yet beautiful. In working with my father, I saw how much care and attentiveness goes into the aspects that might never be seen or cared about. From not leaving the church until he made sure that everyone was cared for, to spending hours on job sites making sure work was being done well, I saw how God uses our passions for His glory and for the betterment of those around us.
The most important thing I recognize with these stories is that God is working through the details and it is the seemingly trivial parts of our lives that can affect us the most. It is in those areas we might not even see ourselves that can teach us the most about who we are. It is in those areas that we can find God refining and shaping us. The truest beauty is in the most mundane.