Billy Coffey
Billy Coffey

The Grace of a Normal Day

May 17, 2010  

IMG_1435It’s 5:30 in the morning. Or, as a friend more poetically puts it, “Oh-dark-thirty.” The alarm has just gone off. It’s one of those programmed to offer the most irritating, high-pitched buzz possible. My first thought it to turn the stupid thing off before it wakes everyone else. My second is that I need to find something—anything—that will wake me a little more calmly. Getting jolted straight from sleep to awake can’t be good for you. It just can’t be.

The clock is slapped and hit and thrown until the noise stops, and I settle back into bed to take stock. I’m awake. Awake is good. All of my body parts seem functional with a minimal amount of soreness. Also good.
I already know what the day ahead will bring. I know where I’m going and what I’m doing. I know who I’m going to see and in many cases what exactly they will say to me.

Sure, anything can happen. There are always tiny variations; nothing in life is ever truly fixed. I may choose to alter my schedule a bit and therefore miss someone whose path I usually cross. Or, of course, my schedule may be altered by something other than choice. You never know, as they say. But the truth of it is that we actually do in most cases.

For many of us, life immersed in routine. We get up at the same time and go through the same ceremonial acts of preparing for the day, just as we tend to reverse them to prepare for the end of it. The in between, that time spent out in a chaotic world swimming in chance, is really just as predictable. Sure, bad things happen. But not often. That’s why they always end up on the news.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe your life is the opposite of mine, full of adventure and derring-do. Maybe there isn’t an alarm clock by your bed because you don’t need one. You wake up on your own and fling your covers back, eager to tackle anything—everything!—if for no other reason than because it’s new and unexpected.
Aside from the occasional Saturday, doesn’t happen to me. My life is a long run-on sentence that is only occasionally interrupted by a comma or a dash. And while I hope there’s an exclamation point at the end, I’ll settle for a period.

I say all this not for your pity, because that’s not what I want. I live the quintessential normal life, and most of the time I’m proud of that fact. I say it instead for those few times when I’m not.

Growing up, the sort of life I wanted was one where I would wake up excited to be alive. My mouth would already be salivating over the endless possibilities before me. The world back then wasn’t something to endure, it was something to conquer. And life seemed to stretch out before me rather than close in around me.

We always have big plans for ourselves when we’re young. We’re just cocky and sure enough to think we know what’s going on and what the world is really about.

That doesn’t last long, of course. Things change. Not just our dreams. Not just our perceptions of life, either. Our perceptions of other things change as well. About three years ago I woke up just like I did a few minutes ago—5:30 a.m. on the button. And I beat the alarm clock into submission and took stock of both myself and my life (also just like a few minutes ago), and my perception was this:

I was in hell.

Which meant my perception of hell had changed as well. I always thought hell would be colored with a fiery red. Turned out it was a dull gray instead.

I was lost back then. I had blessings I was blind to and a future that called but couldn’t be heard. That’s what happens when you allow yourself to go numb. You miss the bad, yes. But you miss the good, too.
I’m better now, which is good. But I know that being unhappy with the much that God has blessed you with is a human condition, and if I am one thing, it is most assuredly human.

So as I’m lying here in bed, I’m reminding myself that it’s easy to forget that the ordinary is just the extraordinary that’s happened over and over again.

Sometimes the beauty of your life is apparent. Sometimes you have to go looking for it. And just because you have to look for it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

My exhale is the here-we-go-again sort, but with a smile. And before I throw back the covers, I offer this small prayer:

God, grant me the grace of a normal day.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Grace. For more stories about grace, please visit my friend Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time.

Be Sociable, Share!
Now Available: 
The Curse of Crow Hollow

Crow Hollow Cover

“Coffey spins a wicked tale . . . [The Curse of Crow Hollow] blends folklore, superstition, and subconscious dread in the vein of Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery.’”

—Kirkus Reviews

Available online and your local bookstore. 



44 Responses to “The Grace of a Normal Day”

  1. Glynn says:

    I think of my morning routine — walk the dog, get the paper, feed the dog, eat my bowl of Cheerios with sliced banana (or Craisins if I’m feeling wild), then my coffee, check email and Twitter, write a little, shower, get dressed and then to work. It’s almost boringly routine — yet there’s something small each day I didn’t see the day before. Normal grace.

  2. Krista says:

    My life is a little not-normal right now, and this quieted my mind for a few moments. Thank you; I needed that.

    “God, grant me the grace of a normal day.”

  3. tricia says:

    The “grace of a normal day” is a blessing easily overlooked when life is filled with them.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Glynn Young, katiemoon, Candy Steele, Duane Scott, Sarah Salter and others. Sarah Salter said: RT @gyoung9751: The Grace of a Normal Day, new post by @billycoffey […]

  5. bmeandering says:

    Well-said. From one who has suffered bouts of depression since age 15, a normal day is good. Your prayer of “God grant me the grace of a normal day.” resonates within me.
    Thank you.

  6. L.T. Elliot says:

    Perfectly said. Once, I didn’t value the grace of an ordinary day and now it’s my saving grace.

  7. S. Etole says:

    If you only knew how exceptional you are ….

  8. jake says:

    Billy, you’re a wonderful writer. You’re good at telling stories and getting people to think. Good job!

  9. Billy, would it be alright if I also linked you up to Chatting at the Sky’s Tuesdays Unwrapped today? I think this fits in perfectly and want more people to read this.

  10. Joyce says:

    ‘the ordinary is just the extraordinary that’s happened over and over again’…love this!

    It’s always a treat to read what you have written.

  11. The trick is to shake ourselves out of seeing only ordinary, and see the extraordinary buried within.

    That sounds lovely and poetic, but don’t worry…I struggle with it, too.

  12. Amy N. says:

    Love this post. My friends and I who are stay at home moms often have to remind ourselves that we are so grateful for the ordinary day. My blog is my reminder that even the ordinary can be extraordinary. We just have to remember and choose to view it that way.

  13. My favorite… “it’s easy to forget that the ordinary is just the extraordinary that’s happened over and over again.”

    Maybe I could get Katdish to come paint that on my bedroom ceiling in those fancy letters she has in her header (esp. like the pvc pipe format). And maybe some glow-in-the-dark paint so when my husband lays there awake at night, he can be assured that we are more than okay.


  14. Helen says:

    I remember when I was teaching, my husband and I would tell each other about our day. Often he’d say “I had a boring day.” My response? “I PRAY FOR boring days, MAN!”
    Be careful what you pray for… 😉

  15. Oh Billy … Your writing is grace to these normal days of your readers. You do see the extraordinary in the ordinary, and I’m grateful for you. So very grateful …

    (P.S. — During a rough ride a few years back, my sister wrote these words on a piece of paper that I still keep in the kitchen drawer: “Dear God, Give me enough grace for today.” This stirred that memory.)

  16. Susie says:

    So far there is nothing of yours that I have read that has not made me think or that I have not liked.

    Thank you.

  17. Lois "okiewife" Carter says:

    Thank you. Today I plan to be aware of the “ordinariness” of my day and be grateful for it.

  18. Duane Scott says:

    I’ve always been the guy that needs something new and exciting to propel himself from bed each day.

    The older I get, the more I’m content with a normal routine. You could say I’m getting old, or you could say I’m utilizing this grace. Either way, I’ll never quit looking for something unique about today.

    Great post.

  19. Kass says:

    My life is a long run-on sentence that is only occasionally interrupted by a comma or a dash. This really resonated with me and I love how you encourage grace into the everyday. Great post.

  20. Ironically, your post reminded me of that old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Give me boring, baby! I also recommend the poem” Ordinary Life” by Barbara Crooker.

  21. WONDERFUL! And as I sit here sick with a sinus infection, I still praise God that I am living my ordinary life:)

  22. Maureen says:

    Wonderful post. To define a day by what it is not and so to understand the grace it bestows by arriving to us every morning.

    “The grace of a normal day” would make a wonderful line for a poem.

  23. jasonS says:

    I know what you mean about that exclamation point, but women have periods strewn over years of their lives and don’t seem to like it much (sorry I just couldn’t resist).

    You’re so right- there is grace in the adventure and grace in the everyday. It’s beautiful to live life in God…

  24. nAncY says:

    it seems grace is this forgiveness that has been given us for eternity with God,
    yet, is is also this gift of allowing us to see, little
    bits at a time, the Goodness that God gives us in our life now.

  25. Ryan Tate says:

    Thank you again for the great writing. You have a gift for finding the small crack located on every human’s protective shell. You poke right at the crack and the shell crumbles away, revealing the heart.

  26. Amanda says:

    I am really enjoying your blog…your thoughts.. your faith.

    I just want to say AMEN a lot. 😉

  27. I am in love with normal days. Days that have the same ol’ routine, with no surprises, not a lot of excitement. And ones that involve just me and words.

    That probably means I’m old.

    Great post, as usual … but even greater this time. Because it reminded me to ask my husband to please refrain from wildly throwing the covers off of him when the alarm goes off. I don’t hear the alarm … but I definitely feel the slap of covers across my delicate cheek bones. *snort


  28. Dayle says:

    Ordinary days… such treasures they are.

  29. The Kingdom of God is a treasure hidden in a field. It’s meant that we should look for it. God intends that we should have joy, but not the kind the world offers. Our transition to Kingdom values and Kingdom adventures and Kingdom joy takes time.

    What a fabulous beginning you have made, Billy. It’s awe-inspiring.

    But don’t let the enemy of your soul take you on this one. You’re successful, yes, marvelously so. A fine instrument in the hands of your Lord. And yet, there is much more — a vast universe next door, parallel to ours, with depths and heights and breadth that you have barely guessed at.

    You were made for more than this. Let your longings lead you home.

  30. emily says:

    Billy, I’m so glad you linked up to Tuesdays Unwrapped. Because this post? Is exactly the heart of it. To see the ordinary on purpose brings out the beauty in it. I hope you’ll be back again.

  31. JoAnn Hallum says:

    I always think I’m in hell at 5:30 a.m.
    Me likey sleep.
    But good for you for being grateful. I will be grateful that I got rid of my turncoat chicken that was a rooster in disguise and enjoy sleeping past dawn. Crowing roosters outside the window at 5:30 a.m…boo.
    Not a morning person.
    p.s. You remind me a little of Mark Twain.
    a little

  32. sara says:

    A normal day, isnt it amazing when we are in turmoil we pray for a normal day, they when our days become normal we feel trapped by them. You are so right that we need to learn more about grace and gratitude for the normal days. i now see my quiet days as recoupation for the times ahead, may those times be full of joy and happiness but if they arent I know Im not on my own.

    Thanks for sharing your normal day.

    Sara xx

  33. I like to thank God often for normal and boring!

  34. Kat says:


    Love the honesty that comes across in your posts. That not all days are happy go lucky no matter how much we would like them to be and the fact is the life is like that sometimes. I’ve been trying prayer and study first thing and it’s amazing how different my days have been.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  35. Bridget says:

    God, grant me the grace of a normal day.


    Amazing post, Billy. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  36. Louise says:

    Love this — I always thought hell would be colored with a fiery red. Turned out it was a dull gray instead.

    Working at a homeless shelter — in a gray on gray world — that is hell.

    Grace is that moment when people awaken to a new day at the point of possibility, not the prospect of failure.

    thanks for this post — quite powerful

  37. Oh, to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. A normal day full of adventure!

  38. Amy says:

    I am glad to have met you, and your blog. Thank you for writing.

  39. Billy,
    I think this is my favorite posts of yours so far — I can’t believe I missed it earlier this week. I’m so glad Emily posted it on Chatting today, and that it caught my eye. All I can say is Yes. Yes. I hear you. I know exactly what you mean. Both the earlier feeling of dull grey (I once called it grey lapping grey) and the later realization of grace, beauty found in the everyday normal, the extraordinary in the ordinary. That’s not to say I don’t sometimes still wake up with the grey draping my heart like fog — I do — but I think with God’s grace I am seeing more and more color in my everyday.

    Thank you — this is a keeper! I am printing it out and hanging it in my office!

  40. “I always thought hell would be colored with a fiery red. Turned out it was a dull gray instead.”

    Going numb colors the gray.

    It’s special to learn it was just 3 years ago that since then, the colors have returned for you.

    Beautiful read, Billy. Thanks for sharing.

    I just got back in my blogging saddle last week… since the film :).

  41. patty says:

    i have a friend who said that he complained all the time that his life was so blah, so normal. and today, he says, he would give anything to have that boring normal back. i guess it’s all perspective. i love ‘swimming in chance’ – what an excellent visual. and i’m glad you gave up gray. :)

  42. Good way of expressing life. [I’m a very much anti-alarm clock person… that shocking awakening noise just keeps my heart hammering for too long!]. And it’s true that, in our present world, we have a hard time simply looking at the “everydayness'” we are probably facing as unimportant or unnecessary. We don’t know who is seeing the grace of God operating in our lives and encouraging them to go forward…

  43. So eloquently put.

    Thanks for sharing – your post means a lot to me.

Leave a Reply