The fear of being normal, and other obstacles to living an extraordinary life

I have teenagers so I am abundantly familiar with the constant posting to the various social media outlets. It’s fairly normal for a huge chunk of adults, me included, so this is no slam on the teens. I, personally, cannot stop myself from filtering every single photo through Instagram. Lately as we’re busy “posting” our lives I notice something we all seem to have in common: somehow everyone’s life is so unusual and glamorous and constantly hilarious. It’s like our lives are a series of SNL sketches mixed with poignant stories and inspirational “real” moments. All carefully scripted. All filtered beautifully. Cue the witty hashtag. The ever-present comparisons we make on a sometimes hourly basis, are skewing our realities. We, myself included, stand back and evaluate how impressive our thoughts, photos and anicdotes will seem. No one wants to be cliche, outdated or worst of all- regular.

What’s regular, you ask?

Here is my regular Tuesday: I got up on time and made breakfast for myself and kids and rushed everybody out the door with little to no humor, but we all got to our various places on time and I told everybody the same thing I tell them everyday- Have a good day- love you! – as they exited the car. And I drove to work and I prayed it would be a good day, and I did my job and the highlight of my day was somebody left some Christmas candy in the break room. And I came home to a messy kitchen and I made a pot of non-organic chili and we ate on chipped dishes and no one volunteered to clean the kitchen so I assigned it to one of the kids who griped all the way through doing it. My husband wandered off to watch football because his day was stressful and I really didn’t have anything helpful to say to encourage him, other than “love you” which he smiled about but still wandered off to veg out. And the kids went to bed and I started the laundry and then went to bed and I was thankful enough, but not particularly thrilled by any part of the past 18 hours.

Nobody wants to post that as a status or tweet about it- but it’s life. And we have come to fear it; that our normal, regular life is getting in the way of being extraordinary. That at the end of our days we will be thought of as a person who wasted their talent or never lived up to their potential, or had no cool factor at all.  But here’s the secret: being normal: being a steady worker, a faithful spouse, a mediocre cook or a nominally funny person has no power to keep you from living an extraordinary life. The extraordinary life comes from valuing the things God values and loving the way Christ loved. Often the regular things in our day are the very opportunities to live beyond regular. When I get up and wake my children and help them find socks and pack lunches and I extend kindness when I would rather be grumpy and mope into my morning coffee- that creates a culture in my family of sacrifice and kindness. Two things this world runs desperately short on. And when I do laundry and run the car pool and keep groceries in the fridge week after week, it creates a sense of security and faithfulness– two more missing elements in many people’s stories. And when I am respectful of people I don’t agree with, who are ignorant or annoying or socially awkward, and I ignore the discomfort I feel but focus on the dignity of the person- I am becoming more like Christ, “who being in very nature God- did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking on the nature of a servant.”

We all talk and even bemoan the fact that social media creates comparisons and pressure to “live up” but equally scary to me is the fear of just being a normal person. The whole point of our testimony about Christ is I am not all that amazing– in fact, I’m actually quite sinful and weak- but Christ….. He is strong and good and holy and righteous. And because He is and was all those things, he offers them to me. So I can quit trying to impress you. I can quit being afraid of being a nobody, because I’m already loved and accepted by the most important somebody who ever was. And then, when I know that, I can live in the extraordinary way He did- loving everyone, humbly serving, fighting for justice….. and unloading the dishwasher and returning a call and balancing my checkbook.

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