Posted by: mvhuff | June 10, 2017

The Power of the Ordinary

When I was growing up, I thought I wanted to be an Olympic medal winner. I don’t think it was a real dream, because there wasn’t a particular sport I had a love for or skill at when having this vision. I didn’t develop the athletic skills necessary because I didn’t have anything concrete to focus on – I think I just thought that somehow some round metal object attached to a colorful ribbon would validate me as a person – tell me I was worth something. Or something – it’s hard to tell because of course growing up I wasn’t that self-aware and now I don’t remember a lot of details about the fantasy.

I was thinking about that because these days there seems to be a lot of discussion about dreaming big and aiming for the moon (or stars, I’m not sure). I suppose this isn’t that new as people have been dreaming for as long as they have been around, but it just seems like there is a kind of pressure to have really huge dreams – like you can’t find fulfillment if you don’t dream extremely boldly.

I’ve heard people saying if your dreams don’t scare you they are not big enough. Or you have to chase the lion or having a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) that can change the world.

There is nothing wrong with big, bold, even impossible dreams. The world can never change without people daring to take enormous risks or explore uncharted territories or make seemingly ludicrous leaps of faith. It is just that maybe that is a lot of pressure for people who don’t have huge dreams. What if I cannot make a giant leap of faith? What if I have no desire to do something that will change the world?

Sometimes, we just have to appreciate the ordinary. We (or the infamous mysterious they that keep saying things) talk about how it’s the little things that matter, but we idolize the big things. And because we idolize the big things, we treat the little things as if they are not daring enough – that if you are not chasing lions you may as well not consider a fulfilling life a possibility.

The chasing lions analogy was based on a story in the Bible about one of David’s mighty men that killed a lion after pursuing it into its den. And we all want to be heroes so we admire someone brave that can do something like this. The Bible mentions that David had thirty mighty men, and named them and even described some of their exploits and amazing feats. But David had an army of other foot soldiers that just faithfully executed their duties – with only the mighty men, David probably wouldn’t have won and kept his kingdom.

For every Elijah that called down fire from heaven, there were thousands of other prophets who remained faithful to God without feats noted in the Bible. For every Peter and Paul preaching the gospel, there were thousands of other believers in the early church that remain anonymous to us. They did not plant churches, but they formed an integral part of church growth.

For every huge dream, there are others that have smaller goals. Maybe they won’t build a company or solve a complex problem that has been dogging society or create an amazing masterpiece of art. Maybe instead they will talk to the cashier like they are a real, valued human being. Maybe they will make someone laugh. Maybe they will restore dignity to a person not by being amazing but simply by interacting on a one on one basis.

I don’t want to imply that big dreamers are not good with people – many of them are. And goals do not necessarily prevent one from also treating people with respect.

For some of us, though, huge goals are not a thing. But we can, in our ordinary lives, treat each other with love, dignity and respect even in the most ordinary of interactions. And that can be powerful for people who need it.



  1. Very nice Mary. I think we often feel we need to accomplish something grand and glorious to be worthy of this life. I agree that just being a friend,a listener, a caring person is a small bit of grand!

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