A friend told me she nominated me for the IF:Local Leaders scholarship, which was a pseudo-surprise. (Pseudo because I shared the link to friends with a mention that I would *love* to win, surprise because she spent time and wrote an essay on my behalf.) She wrote kind and true words. I may have cried a little. (I’m a Words of Affirmation person and when people tell me how great I am I get weepy and a tad bashful, not my general nature.)
I reflected on her prose and realized I probably won’t win (and that’s okay), though not for lack of talent on her part – she writes beautifully. Nor is it a self-disparaging remark or a bout of false humility. I don’t say that because I believe I’m not good enough. You’ve been around long enough to realize that I clearly believe I’m good enough for about anything. Worthiness is not where I shortchange myself (though, perhaps humility is).
No, the reason I’ll garner about 4 procured votes comes down to my ordinary life. It is, in fact, extra-ordinary. There is no spark of remarkable about my life. The most interesting thing to write about me is that I had four babies, very fast. No one will be giving me awards for an overactive uterus. And that’s okay. I’m not sure it’s a trophy I want to bring home. Next to that, I simply love Jesus, write a few words and think too much.
Now, don’t think I discount those things. Those babies, born in rapidfire succession, mean the world to me and have whittled me down, adding definition and marks of character. I love writing in this space for the 14 readers who stop by. I get just enough “you put words to my feelings” comments to make it completely worth the $11.99 I pay for the domain name each year. I write for my own sake as much as anyone else’s.
I was born into the generation of Somebodies who would Change the World. We were Special. And we were coached to seek after that Extraordinary Life. The fruit loop among cheerios, the diamond in the rough. In a favorite childhood movie, Shelby says, “I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”
While it’s okay to dream big (I always do), I hope we don’t loose track of the beauty, the holiness, found in the mundane. A glance through scripture, and that’s often where you find God. At the water well. In a bush. From an ass. (I’m such a 6th grader at heart. It’s Baalam’s donkey.)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes in Sonnet 86:
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes-
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
We live in a world that worships the extraordinary. We are, to our demise, celebrity-infatuated. When your face is put on a screen or a page, suddenly the world deems it worthy of thoughts and time. But read the tales of the ancients and we find not the Somebodies but the nobodies who are called upon to participate in God’s work. He doesn’t seek a long list of successes; he honors a lifetime – or even just a little, wholehearted time – of faithfulness. Of living truly, rightly, where you are.
That same friend just left my house after a morning of naming businesses and picking paint colors. It was nothing extraordinary. But it was holy. It was good. It honors the definition, for me, of living a life marked with God’s presence.
And that’s what I’m after. Not the extraordinary. But something so very ordinary that you can’t help but acknowledge that God lives amid it.