In Praise of Lukewarm Living

Hear me, there’s a place for producing excellent, high quality work.

There are definitely times that call for us to buckle down and focus on doing only one or two things well, giving our best to the task or relationship in front of us.

I once worked for someone who encouraged me to work towards the “wow factor.” We needed to make heads turn and mouths drop. Leave them in awe was his simple request.

It’s been years since this particular job and although I’m grateful for what I learned there, I am glad it is behind me now.

I don’t aim for the wow factor anymore. Instead, I admit, I do many things mediocre.

My marriage needs daily attention and rarely gets it. We are lacking in just about every area from date nights to sex to adult conversation. But sometimes we still make out like naughty teenagers during his lunch break or snuggle on the couch while the kids slide across the wood floor in socks.

With four children who desire my full attention most hours of the day, they are all deprived of mommy time to some degree. Our homeschooling sessions are far from picture worthy, the lessons lay in a jumbled mess on our dining room table and our two biggest classrooms remain the chaos of real life and our muddy yard.

I have too many creative ideas I’m working on in the cracks of my day. When they eventually reach their final stages, I know without a doubt, there will be glaring mistakes and they won’t be exactly what I pictured. I will grumble for awhile, but I will also go on making and maneuvering my dreams into reality.

Then there’s my house with dusty floors, dishes constantly in the sink, and dirty toilets always. I would need a full-time maid to keep it sparkling clean.

Did I mention there are friendships waiting to be nourished and endless house projects calling our name before winter sets in?

Is it possible to lower our expectations a little without giving up on our ideals or goals? I think so.

Life is full for all of us.

There will always be too much on our plate, this is what it means to be human. Without even trying, we already have more than we can carry.

Instead of wishing for wow in my marriage, in mothering, in work, in gatherings I host, or friendships I’m building, I’m now aspiring for lukewarm mediocrity.

It sounds drab, even heretical, I know.

But if there’s a place for high caliber, blazing hot success, there must also be a place for the common humdrum that doesn’t turn heads.

The wow factor is hardly practical for those of us desiring to go all in with life as a whole. Constantly, I need to remind myself to settle down, bring my expectations down a few notches, and not be afraid of half-hearted effort.

Yes, you heard me right. Half-hearted effort.  

Besides we can’t make smores over a raging fire. Cooling embers and indirect heat are best for bringing a puffy mallow to gooey perfection on the inside and crisp golden crust on the outside.

We cannot rush the roasting. Jumpy, intense flames definitely make people jaws drop but does little for allowing us to taste the sweetness of a smore.

I’m not interested in wowing people with my presence, my home, or anything I produce. I’ve given up on my aspirations for a thriving, romantic marriage and well-rounded, generous children.

I’m settling into the rhythms of sustainability, praising mediocrity and lukewarm living, okay with dicing up and dishing out portions of my heart to many different things, and inviting people to come sit by the warmth of this crackling fire.

I’ll be here for awhile, care to join me, it’s perfect for smores?

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