She thought her story was too ordinary.
Especially compared to the others. Which is always the way we decide that our story, our dream, our accomplishment, our faith testimony, our ( _______ ) doesn’t amount to much. We set our own story — dreadfully dull — up next to the stories that shine. We compare to the ones that get the Facebook shares, the accolades, the standing ovation.
My big sister didn’t say those words exactly, but that’s what I heard her saying when I held the telephone between my cheek and my shoulder over the noon hour.
We talked, and I made sandwiches on wheat bread to take to the farmers in the field. And I heard her telling me — in a way — that her story felt like white bread. Blah. Boring. Ordinary.
I heard her saying that she didn’t have a big story to tell. The others had stories that wowed. And the story that she did have? Maybe parts of it didn’t feel safe to share in front of a live audience. I get that.
But you’ve got to know something about my big sister: She’s not ordinary. I would know. She’s been holding me close to her heart since she was eleven years old. That’s how old she was when Mom and Dad brought me home from the hospital; she scooped me up like I was her own.
She’s always been my hero. She was the first one to do all the things I wanted to do someday: drive a car, go to college, get married, diaper her own child, hold down a job that made a difference in the world.
She’s only, and always, been extraordinary to me — right there in the middle of her own ordinary life in the carpool lane, and her Cooking Light kitchen, in her international marketing work, her study of Chinese, her appreciation for the best wines. She’s shown me adventure. Together, we’ve taken crazy trips to Brazil and remote Canada fishing lakes and out to the empty middle of a snow-kissed canyon.
But sister, I know. I know.
Yeah. I get what it feels like to be ordinary, to feel like my story is doornail-dead. That someone has said it before, and has said it better. That my life isn’t worth a headline or a stage. So I ought to just snap my mouth and my laptop shut.
Except for the fact that most of us really are pretty … ordinary. We’re not the headline-makers, and the spotlight-takers, and the fame-rakers. We’re just a bunch of people moving from the diaper changing tables to the vegetable garden to the church nursery to the cubicle. And we need to tell each other the middle stories, the ordinary stories, the pots-and-pans stories where we find the little miracles of community and love and everlasting hope.
Look… Most of us don’t live on the extremes. Most of us are living in the ordinary middle. And while the power-stories have their place in this world, proving with awe and splendor that God can make pure gold from the rubbish of our lives, people need to hear the day-to-day stories, too.
And sister? We can call it humdrum, or a real snoozer. But this is where we’re making our lives — over the kitchen island where we stack sandwiches for hungry farmers, and over the dining room table where you’ve always kept a spot open, and hunched over the impossible math worksheets and vocabulary study guides until it finally clicked for your sweet child.
Not everyone can relate to the amazing story of a 150-pound weight loss, or surviving ten days in the woods with no food.
But everyone wants to hear the story about how some days? It was a miracle that we got out of bed.
God is making an extraordinary story, out of our ordinary moments. And the only one who can tell that story?