why it’s great to be ordinary
There is a big difference between being ordinary and being mediocre. Ordinary is a state of being. Mediocrity is a choice. I just gave you my thesis at the very start of this post. Chew on that and enjoy.
My focus today, however, is on the state of being ordinary. You can consider me an expert on being ordinary. Let me explain why:
I spent nearly 2 years in Bangkok, Thailand with my new wife (right after our wedding) and one of the things I was faced with in my time there was my “darkest night of the soul”. Ever have one of those? If you haven’t yet, hate to break it to you but you’re due for one.
In my darkest night, I was faced with this one reality that nearly crippled me and discredited all of my efforts and so-called accomplishments in my short 20-something years of life:
I’m so completely, utterly, and painfully ORDINARY
I mourned the thought that in my deepest core, I was extremely plain and normal. Regardless of the talents and abilities I possessed in that time, the fact of the matter was that I was ordinary. Nothing inherent in me was special. To this day I am ordinary.
A story like this may typically end with a happy realization that goes something like “but then I realized that I actually AM special and I’m extraordinary!” Not my story. To this day, I am wrestling with and accepting the fact that I am ordinary. It is only in my acknowledgement of this fact that I find freedom. More on this in a bit…
Some of you may actually be sitting there thinking, “I totally disagree with you, I’ve been down this path before and I’ve concluded that I’m ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. I’m talented and I’m pretty special.” That may be true but I’m contending that when we strip away our roles, titles, formalities, and even our special talents and we’re sitting in the quiet of our rooms, we can see how extremely ordinary we truly are.
There is someone else who knew a lot about this whole being ordinary, plain-jane business. This is what was said about Him in the book of Isaiah (53:2-3):
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
So anybody else ever feel like this?
The beauty of this is that though I (and others of you who are with me in this) may be ordinary in our very being, the truth is that we get to experience the extraordinary when we allow ourselves to be carried by a transcendent source to that place. I’m talking about a reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit. Yeah, that sounds super spiritual but that’s exactly what it is. The fact is, God helps some of us see and embrace that we are ordinary (very painfully at times) so that he can do the extraordinary in and through us.
When I realized this truth, I began to see some pretty incredible things happen in my leadership, music, speaking (I preached quite a bit in Bangkok), and in my interactions with people.
I realized it’s not about trying to become extraordinary; because the more I try, the more frustrated and sad I get! It’s all about letting Someone Else put on the show in and through you; the beautiful, plain (and ordinary), but clean-slated canvas.