COLUMN: Somewhere Between Up and Down

One of life’s great joys are those moments when something unexpected and wonderful happens to us. These high points usually carry with them great excitement and leave in their wake hopeful expectation that it’ll keep happening to us.

Of course, they usually don’t. At least not for a long while, at any rate.

Notice that I said usually. Sometimes one unexpected event gives birth to another and then another and, before you know it, your entire life has changed. We hear about stories like this all the time: the actor who was discovered in a drug store, the unknown novelist whose first book not only got published but became a best seller, the man who discovered an unknown Picasso in his attic.

The “moral” of such stories, we are told, is to never give up, because it could happen to you! Yes it could, but it almost certainly won’t. Like winning the lottery, it does happen, but there’s an extremely limited amount of those stories. Not nearly enough for everyone.

More than a few years ago I had a now defunct blog called “The Marshian Chronicles.” (Subtitled “With Apologies to Ray Bradbury.”) I worked hard on it and it probably survived six or seven years before the hackers and my own exhaustion did it in. During its run I experienced two high points. One was when the blog was quoted by Christianity Today’s website, and the other was when it was quoted by someone who disagreed with a post I did on marijuana.

Both times I had a huge spike in visitors to the blog and was thrilled. And both times everything settled right back down to normal in a few days (the pot episode ended after I got tired of all the trolls insulting me and my family in the comments section so I closed the comments and everyone quietly left.) It was exciting and both times I hoped I might finally break through and become much more widely read.

But that didn’t happen and, all too soon, everything returned to that most dreaded of situations – normal.

But that’s what life is most of the time for almost all the people on the planet – normal. Our days tend to be much the same, with work or family or whatever our routines might be. On occasion great things will happen to disturb that, other times terrible things will disrupt our normalcy as well. But in the end, and usually sooner than we think, things settle back down and normal returns.

And that is the point. Somehow most of us have been tricked into thinking that life is in the high points. Those exciting and rare moments that sweep through our lives like a hurricane. That’s what a lot of people I know are looking for. They think that excitement is what life should be.

But I fear they are missing the point. Because just like a hurricane these high points sweep in, blow things around, turn your life upside down even, and then they just move on. After they’re gone we are left to put the pieces back together again as best we can.

High points are great because all the disruption helps us to see things in a new way and makes it a bit easier for us to change things that need changing. (Yes, they also make it easier to change things that don’t need changing, but that’s another story.)

Major events like this are necessary and can be fun and exciting. But they aren’t what life is about. Real life is found in the normal, routine and often boring times that fill most of our days. That’s where being the person you were made to be counts because that’s where the vast majority of your life will be lived out.

All too often I hear people say they are bored. There’s nothing to do, nothing on TV, and I guess there’s nothing on the internet or it’s been mysteriously shut down or something. The younger you are, the more likely you are to complain about this, but at times we all do it.

The next time you want to gripe about how dull normal is, just remember it’s only dull because we aren’t filling up our limited supply of days with the meaning and purpose they could hold. Don’t gripe about it – live. Don’t forget that real life is found somewhere between the ups and the downs. In the good old normal middle is where most of us will make an impact, if we make one at all.

Resolve to make a difference, especially in the quieter moments of your life, because those are the moments when you really can stand tall and make a difference in someone’s life. So embrace normal, because – like it or not – that’s what most your life will be filled with and if you miss that, you are missing most of the only life you’ve been given.

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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.

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