How Much Awesomeness Can We Really Handle?

I have this theory that we get about one awesome story per decade. If you go to many conferences or read books and then hear the author speak or read their second book, things start to sound the same. The same stories are retold, the same lessons reexamined, the same wisdom gained. I’m guilty of this, I have a few faves, a few go-stories and go-to life lessons complete with a personal example.

Even guys like Moses and Abraham – how many awesome stories do they have? And how long did they live? I imagine that if Moses were to speak at conferences he would do an awful lot of rehashing crossing the Red Sea or the plagues. But he lived for years. Like years and years, centuries, even. Centuries of mundane days, sick days, failure, disappointment, pain, monotony. Walking in the desert. Just walking. Saw some sand. Ate some manna. Walked some more. We don’t hear much about those boring, every day days. We hear the highlights, the few and the incredible.


So I think that we get a few incredible stories and we get to share them and learn from them until they are worn out, then maybe we’ll get some more, there’s no guarantee. Probably a lot depends on the risks we take and how well we pay attention.

In our social media addicted world in which everything you eat and the timing of your child’s bowel movements is documented with photos and thumbs up and posted for everyone to make much of, I see a world desperate for lots more awesome stories. We want the burning bush every day. We want to feel important, big, valued every day. We want to feel awe every day. So we add a few filters and think of clever hash tags and post our ordinary mundane, hoping someone will find it awesome. Or hoping that we will get enough thumbs up to pretend it is awesome.

But we don’t get that much awesome. Personally, I’m okay with that. I think the burning bush every day would be a bit exhausting. And running from Pharaoh through a raging river would probably wear me down if I had to do it more than once a lifetime.

We get a lot of average days and a few highlights. And that is where the important question comes in: what do we do with all that average? Do we glorify and exaggerate? Make much of our days that flourish like the flowers of the field, the wind blows over them and they are gone? Or do we just live simply and joyfully in the unglorified days? Do we force a veneer of excitement over a life that is pretty ordinary? Or do we let ourselves rest in the ordinary and let it speak for itself?

All those years of walking? All that sand stuck in his eyes and sunburn wreaking havoc on his skin? During all those years Moses’ clothes didn’t wear out. His muscles didn’t give out. As he walked he might have prayed, might have complained, might have roamed in silence. Those were days of becoming – days of deepening so that he would be prepared for the highlights. And they were days of building – days that by themselves wouldn’t have been impressive. Who cares if your sandals don’t wear out after a single day of walking? But build decades upon decades of walking? Pretty awesome sandals. Or rather, a pretty awesome God who revealed his faithfulness, true on day one but experienced by day one thousand.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t post on social media, I’m just saying let’s enjoy our ordinary days and delight in our few extraordinary days. Let’s not cheapen normalcy by demanding it be awesome because at the end of a long life? Ordinary is pretty awesome.

What are you doing with your ordinary?




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Rachel Pieh Jones

Rachel writes about life at the crossroads of faith and culture. Her work is influenced by living as a foreigner in the Horn of Africa, raising three Third Culture Kids, and adventurous exploration of the natural world. She has been published in the New York Times, Runners World, the Big Roundtable, and more. Check out her latest book, Stronger than Death: Get all her stories and updates in the Stories from the Horn newsletter

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