Redefining an Extraordinary Life

11:13 AMHeather

This is what we tend to consider when we think of extraordinary people, living extraordinary lives.

People who've achieved extraordinary fame and beauty and who we perceive live glamorous and amazing lives.

People who've achieved extraordinary things, like climbing huge mountains or breaking world records.

People who've become an internet sensation, for whatever crazy reason.  Like Alex from Target.  (This one still has me scratching my head in confusion).

People with amazing talents, who go from your average Joe to a reality star in the blink of an eye, through the turn of a chair.

People who are living large, with the budgets and resources to match.
People who earn incredible rewards and achieve champion status.

With all these images in mind, do you know why I loved social media on Tuesday?  Because time after time, I saw the definition of extraordinary being redefined.  Being celebrated and applauded.  As person after person posted about family members who were extraordinary.  Not because they were famous or rich or incredible athletes or a household name.  Not even because they'd earned awards or accolades, although many of them deserved them.

No, the type of extraordinary that I saw Tuesday was ordinary people living ordinary lives who chose to serve.  They chose to sacrifice and put their comfort and their safety and even their lives on the line.  For the sake of others.  And it sorta left me in a puddle.  To see true heroism and the American spirit celebrated.  Because we stopped, for one day, to consider those every day men and women who have served our country.  

And I've been mulling on it all week.  My mind has been percolating thoughts about extraordinary lives.  So, I want to challenge all of us to redefine what that looks like for us.  In our very own lives.  For our very own children and family. 

Because I think we've over romanticized and over dramatized what an extraordinary life looks like.  In our super size mentality, we've allowed our definitions to be overblown, in my humble opinion.  Even within the context of living out a Christian life, we've created definitions of extraordinary to include moving to Africa to help the poor and creating huge global organizations to fight social injustice and other big crazy things for God.

But, I'm over here talking myself off the ledge.

Because I think the harder thing and the more extraordinary thing that we can do to honor God with our lives is the day to day things.  Not the big crazy wild globe trotting things.  But the things like our family members did when they served in the military.  Things that require us to set our agendas aside and our comfort aside and our very selves aside for the sake of others.  I think extraordinary lives for God actually means things like caring for your family, day after day after day.  Choosing to love even difficult people, extending grace, over and over and over and over.  Choosing to fight hard for your marriage and serve your spouse and encourage their walk with Christ, spurring them on to chase hard after him.  Getting up in the middle of the night, repeatedly, for months on end, to feed a hungry baby. Patiently and repeatedly reminding your children what is right and wrong and encouraging their potential. 

I think we have missed peace and joy and contentment in life because we have raised the bar in our minds about what defines an extraordinary life.  I don't think it's the big things.  I don't think its even the things worthy of any attention or fame.  I think it's living out God's call to continually strive to grow in grace and knowledge and goodness and kindness, in increasing measure.  It's taking time, day after day after day, to read His word and pray continually and invest in your relationship with Him even when you don't feel results.  Because we tend to forget that these tiny investments actually have big pay offs. It's cumulative. It's gradual. 

We tend to forget that the trophies and awards and approval of man is all temporary.  It's all fading.  It's wood and hay and stubble that will burn up when God ultimately considers how we lived our lives for His kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:12).  Whether our kid won that award or was the star athlete or received incredible college's temporary. Whether we had the most updated house and the exciting vacations and big awards.  None of it will matter ultimately.

That we would stir in our hearts and the hearts of our children the ability to choose the harder, less glitzy, and more extraordinary definitions of a successful life.  Helping others, choosing grace, serving one another, loving well, working hard, taking God at his word, seeking to live out his commands and just do what he says, day after day after day. 

It's not glamorous.  It's not magazine worthy.  But it is extraordinary.  To pour yourself into building a strong marriage.  To overlook faults and offenses in others because God chose grace over our offenses.  To work heartily at all we do, for God's sake, not others.  To choose integrity and honesty.  To care more about what God cares about than the fleeting rewards of this world. To run to him with every problem and anxiety and concern and and to obey what he wants us to do.  Even if it's just the mundane. 

That's the nitty-gritty.  That's the hard stuff.  To be an ordinary person doing ordinary things with an extraordinary outlook.  Eyes fixed on our Savior.  Doing God things because he sees them as good things.  Whether it's noteworthy to the world around us or not. 

We all tend to be motivated by rewards and accolades and renown.  How easily we lose sight of eternal rewards.  And the ultimate accolade when we see Jesus face-to-face and he says, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  And the fact that at the sound of Jesus' name, every knee will bow, every tongue confess.  Because then, the veil of heaven will be pulled back and every last human being will understand that God's renown is all that matters.  

So, carry on, fellow laborer.  Carry on in the things that are hard and boring and grunt work.  Carry on in the trenches of mothering and marriage and relationships and the work you do every day.  Because it's all kingdom work.  It's all extraordinary to God.  He's placed each of us where we are, with those around us at this very point in time for such as time as this.  Our "greatness" may not be seen by anyone else.  Our sacrifices and persistence may not result in a day when our faces are celebrated and posted on social media.  

But, let's not forget that in the throne room of heaven, our Heavenly Father sees it all.  And he is pleased by our tenacity.  He knows our weaknesses.  He knows our faults.  He covered them all and asked us simply to press on to know Him.  To run hard, with all we've got, in the race set before us.  There may not be media cameras at the finish line.  But we will never regret the rewards we will earn.  

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