In a world often stuck in hopelessness and striving it is always uplifting to meet someone filled with great faith and contentment. Kari Patterson’s statuesque presence lights up a room, but it is the joy and peace that shines forth from within her that causes this glow. Approachable and kind, she loves to help others see the worth in each moment, and she does just that in her new book “Sacred Mundane: How to Find Freedom, Purpose, and Joy.” She was generous enough to give us a sneak peek at the wisdom she’s discovered—finding holy moments in ordinary days.
In a culture always on the lookout for the bigger and better, how can the mundane be sacred?
I believe we underestimate how profoundly we have been affected by our consumeristic culture, and the unfortunate byproduct is our belief that faster, shinier, sexier, more spectacular is always better. We’re inundated with images of photo-shopped faces and surrounded by fast-paced dramas, quick resolutions, instant gratification, Hollywood sex, and carefully crafted commercials convincing us our ordinary life is boring, less-than, unimportant. Even within religious circles, we’re star-struck by spiritual celebrities, “worship” includes a stage and strobe lights, and we’re buying books by the dozen, eager for the next exhilarating encounter.
The truth is, everything matters. The one person who changed the course of history more than any other, Jesus Christ, cared nothing for large followings or flashy performances. He sought obscurity and cared for children, the poor, the outcast, the ordinary. He wasn’t handsome and didn’t have a particularly magnetic personality. His words were few, he asked a lot of questions, and esteemed every genuine seeker of truth. He worked a humble job, as a carpenter, and then, for three short years, in his quiet and unassuming way, turned the world upside down. He showed the world the power of God and the way to life abundant. He proved that in the ordinary details of each day is the opportunity to see, know, love, and be utterly transformed by the One True God. Christians, then, are simply “little Christs” and we can also walk in this peaceful, restful, unhurried, unforced, authentic, free, purposeful, joyful way of life, following in His footsteps. I call this the Sacred Mundane.
You, alongside your husband, planted a church near Portland, Oregon. What role do you believe the local church has to play in today's society?
God created two relational structures through which we find safety, nurture, relationship, accountability, support, love, and transformation. Chronologically, the first is the family, the second is the Church. The family is the small-scale structure designed by God for healthy development and love. The Church is the larger-scale structure, operating in a similar way, with order, community, accountability, nurture, and opportunity to grow and develop in a healthy way. While I believe the family is the best environment for children to grow and develop and for spouses to relate and grow, I believe the Church is the extension of the family, a large-scale family if you will, and is the best environment for every individual to grow and develop.
The church has the resources to do what no government agency could ever do—combine community, provision, and accountability. The Church has the supernatural resources to meet not only physical and financial needs, but emotional and relational needs. Sadly, today most Christians see Church as an optional weekend activity, like a movie, that they can attend or not depending on how they feel. We fail to see it for what it truly is—the embodiment of Christ on earth.
What habits and routines have helped you keep the sacred in your mundane?
One of the first things I do in the morning is get on my knees, bow my face to the ground, and thank God for another day of life. Whatever the day holds, it is a gift to be alive, and I want to remind myself daily that this day matters. I want to remember that God is good and gracious, and I don’t want to squander a moment. Then I curl up with my coffee and Bible, and get God’s perspective on what is true. This is not just a religious rigmarole, this is the holy habit of putting on the lens of God’s sacred scriptures and learning to see the world, myself, and others, through God’s love and truth. It is mind-boggling to me how the Bible speaks with the utmost relevance to the unique circumstances of my daily life. No other book or blog ever comes close to the uncanny ability of the Bible to speak specifically to the everyday details of my life. I find wisdom, hope, challenge, and guidance. I find a God who loves me enough to speak directly to me through the pages of His Word. This is my 19th year reading through the Bible, cover to cover, and I’ve found my life transformed by this simple daily habit, more than anything else.
You are donating all of your royalties from the sale of this book to the women and children helped by World Vision. What is it about World Vision that would make you want to give to them in such a way?
We chose World Vision as the recipient of the book’s proceeds because the impact of their work world-wide is astounding. They’re currently serving more than 4 million children in more than 100 countries, and they are constantly creating new ways to empower women, support families, and meet urgent needs. On a smaller scale, my husband and I are more involved with Next Generation Ministries, a smaller organization on the ground in Uganda. But for this project, we knew most people would recognize World Vision and probably be somewhat familiar with the great work they do worldwide. Plus, WV president Rich Stearns’ book “The Hole In Our Gospel” was the catalyst for much of the lifestyle change that informed the book, so it seemed appropriate to give back.