Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spirituality of DFTBA 2: So is Everybody Else

For Lent this year, I'm trying to make DFTBA (Don't Forget To Be Awesome) my spiritual discipline. Inspired by the Vlogbrothers and Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, I'm considering what DFTBA looks like for me and for my two-year-old daughter, Esther.

In the Spirituality of DFTBA 1, I talked about how God (or a miraculously minute statistical probability of existence) makes you awesome. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are created in God's image, you are supremely good. Don't forget-- you ARE awesome!

Here's the catch: so is everybody else.

I know, I know, if everyone is awesome, doesn't that mean that nobody's awesome? No. Because awesome means "awe-inspiring." It doesn't just mean "cool." And let's be honest, everyone is not cool. Thank God. But everyone is that statistical improbability, everyone is designed uniquely in the image of the divine, and everyone's existence should inspire our awe. Everyone is awesome.

This belief, if we truly internalize it, has far-reaching consequences. On one level, it could easily influence our immediate relationships. There's a good chance we already think the people we love and adore are pretty awesome. It's part of why we adore them. But we often take them for granted and forget their awesomeness. I'm thinking especially of family and sig-oths. Living with someone and spending time with them day-in and day-out sometimes allows us to overlook the awesome and focus on the annoying. What if we remembered their awesomeness more often? What if we told them about their awesomeness on a regular basis?

Right now, I live with Esther and my mom. I am still stunned and amazed by Esther's awesome on a regular basis-- when I remember she used to be just a blob in my uterus, and now she's speaking in (short) sentences and and asking me to snuggle... I tell Esther on a regular basis how amazing I think she is. My hope is that she'll grow up and believe it. But I don't say much to my mom. I tell her "thank you" for the stuff she does to help me (which is a lot, by the way), and I am grateful for her presence and influence in my life. But I often forget to think of her as awesome. She is awesome, of course-- she's smart and funny and creative and one in a bazillion, and she loves me and Esther fiercely. Unfortunately, I think I take that for granted as we live together. I'm sorry, Mom! You are awesome!

Other relationships like co-workers or friends could also be improved by an attitude of DFTBA. I had a co-worker who was so chatty that I was afraid to step into her office if I was in any kind of a hurry. Her story-telling used to drive me nuts until I realized she wanted to over-inform for fear of under-informing me. It changed my perspective, helping me to realize she was being awesome by going above and beyond in trying to help me. I still had to carefully time my visits, but I also knew to say, "that's just what I needed," as a way to end the conversation and thank her for her help. Reminding ourselves of our co-worker's (sister's/friend's/teacher's) awesome won't make his or her annoying go away, but it changes our attitudes toward him or her.

Even the people we encounter in a nominal way on a daily basis are awesome. The cashier at Target, the librarian, the next door neighbor, the bus driver... they're all created awesome in the image of the divine. This is India Arie's description of seeing everyone as awesome.

The next entry will be about even-farther-reaching possibilities that come from remembering that everyone is awesome.

Concrete tasks for remembering everyone is awesome:
  • Give someone a genuine compliment every day. It will make you come up with a reason you think they're awesome, but it will also pass on the awesome.
  • When you pray, give thanks for someone.
  • Listen to the India Arie song above while you're on your commute. Look at the people around you and remember that they're awesome.

God, thank you for making me awesome. And thank you for the awe-inspiring people in my life. Thank you for ___________________, who showed me awesomeness today. Help me to see you in the faces of your people with whom I interact. Amen.

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