Not to sound like Andy Rooney, but have you ever noticed how everything is awesome? Everything is amazing? Everything is incredible? It’s not just good pizza, it’s amazing pizza. It wasn’t just a good movie, it was an incredible movie. Your parents aren’t just good parents, they’re awesome parents. It’s kind of like good has become mediocre which would make average kind of bad. We’re exhausting the English language of superlatives because if we had an amazing pizza on Monday, then Tuesday had a better pizza, the better pizza can’t just be amazing, it has to be fantastic. And if Thursday’s pizza is even better, where do we go from fantastic? Oh, that doesn’t stop us… then we make up a word like marvelicious.
I’m not the first person to say this, but our addiction to superlatives actually doesn’t serve us well. If everything is awesome, then awesome doesn’t really mean much anymore. Awesome just becomes average. And when awesome is average, we have a problem because most people are average folks. That’s not bad. In fact, it’s quite normal. What am I saying? Let me give you an example.
[By the way, in this article when I call someone average it is not a slander. Unless I say otherwise, average is normal]
Have you heard of the phrase mommy blog? Mommy blogs are typically blogs ran by moms who share their parenting experiences, their recipes, their tips for child rearing, even their home decor ideas, all while staying at home, homeschooling, cooking three square meals, woodworking, doing photography, reading obscure books, and having coffee with Jesus.
I am not mocking.
So every mommy blog is awesome. Every mom who has a mommy blog is awesome. And that leaves many moms. . . well, frankly feeling a little less than. Because in mommy blog world awesome has become average, those who are average feel below average. I’m not making this up, I’ve heard it first hand from several women over the last few years.
But the point I want to make isn’t about mommy blogs. What I’m trying to dig down to is this. Why do we feel such a deep-seated need for everything to be awesome? Why can’t pizza just be good pizza? Why can’t we have a social media profile that portrays a normal life instead of everything always being awesome?
Because, good and normal are boring!
Ah… now we’re getting somewhere.
Our problem isn’t really with superlatives and a manicured social media presence; those are just the symptoms. We use those things to shade the truth that we’re trying to hide.
That truth is we’re empty.
A friend of mine stood up in church recently and testified that she had told herself a lie for many years, and she believed it! Why did she believe it? Because it made her feel good about herself. It made her feel like she was on the right track. She believed for years that she was born again, and convinced herself that it was so because that fit the story she wanted to believe about herself. How prophetic! Whether she knows it or not, she uttered the truth about almost everyone in the room. We all have a story that we want to believe about our lives. We want to believe that we’re the hero in our story. We want to believe that we’re good people trying to do what’s best for the people we love. So we tell ourselves, and everyone else, the story that we want to believe. Autobiographies are usually the story that you want everyone to know, but not the story that everyone needs to hear.
Because we’re empty, we superficially inflate our lives. We put off the vibe that everything is awesome because – and this is counterintuitive – that actually pushes many people away. You can keep people at a distance by giving them no reason to be concerned. If everything is awesome, most people stay out of your business, and they never learn the truth. So the need to cover up your emptiness stems from the pride of life, and it’s the pride of life that will push people away, which leaves you empty. That’s some cycle to be caught in, and it will destroy you. But like bad botox injections, we keep injecting these superlatives, we keep manicuring and pruning our public persona so that no one can see the imperfections that lie beneath.
And let’s be honest. Eventually everyone knows you’re using botox.
So how do we get out of this cycle? How do we stop feeding the need to look amazing to everyone? I can only tell you how I’ve been delivered. Jesus Christ’s own words had to penetrate my heart and mind before any real transformation took place in this area. He says this.
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. – Luke 17:33
This teaching is like any other teaching Jesus taught. You can know it, and even believe it’s truthful, but not really believe it. The difference between believing it’s truthful and actually believing it is demonstrated in this: you’ll teach it, but you don’t live it. You believe it can work for anyone, but you don’t believe it for yourself. You know you really believe something when you’ll stake your life on it. It took me time on my journey with Christ, and it took him showing himself faithful through many trials (many which I brought on myself), but eventually it dawned on me that I had never embraced this simple teaching as a spiritual reality worthy of my belief. Once I embraced this, almost instantly the need to impress, the need to inflate, the need to exaggerate, and the need to hide my imperfections behind verbal botox simply vanished. Only then did Paul’s words make real sense to me.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Friends, I’m not really ranting against the overuse of awesome and incredible. Frankly, I’m guilty of saying them all the time because I’m a product of the culture where I live. I’m only warning against what those superlatives are really hiding for many. Real freedom in Christ involves being free from the need to impress anyone except Jesus. Make him the object of your affection, the aim of your efforts, the boast of your life, not fake news about yourself. Jesus is awesome, we’re not. End of story.
And if I ever appear to be awesome to you, I assure you it’s not me, it’s Jesus coming out of me.
I am decidedly… normal.