Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Spirituality of DFTBA 1: You're Created Awesome

(First I want to say that I'm a Presbyterian minister, so I'm coming at this spirituality from a Christian perspective. That said, it's a pretty progressive Christian perspective, and I don't consider it THE answer to the spirituality of DFTBA, just A perspective, and for that matter, MY perspective. Feel free to argue or agree as you so choose, I don't believe you're going to hell b/c we disagree.)

The newest scholarly translation of scripture (the CEB) translates the creation story in the first chapter of Genesis to say that after God created humanity, God pronounced us "supremely good."

Also within that story, scripture tells us that humanity was created in God's image.

I believe that being made "supremely good," in the image of a divine being is pretty awesome.

Here's a more scientific understanding. What are the chances that all the atoms, all the molecules, all the cells and hormones and whatever else it took to get you conceived and then born, were in the right place at the right time to make YOU? Not good. You are one in a bazillion (see how scientific I am?). That is awesome.

So the first part of the spirituality of DFTBA is: You are AWESOME!

Another way to put it might be, "You are awesome." Much of advertising media out there is designed to make us think we're not awesome... we need to buy these products, look like these models, be athletic like these people, drive these cars, acquire these dollars, all to become awesome. Realizing we're already awesome, without the car or the cash or the crap, is freeing. Knowing we're already awesome allows us to focus on other things that are awesome instead of the stuff that we think could make us awesome. Because we know it can't. Because we already are.

It's hard to get this concept through our thick skulls sometimes, and that's understandable, because we've been told from the moment we could be told, that we're less than awesome. Sometimes the voices are the media's, sometimes they're from our parents and teachers, and sometimes they're even our own. So how to make ourselves believe it? I've heard this stuff about being made in God's image for years now, and it only makes a little dent in all the self-doubt that still pounds away at me. A few ideas...

  • Put something precious in your pocket. Maybe a piece of family jewelry, or a beautiful stone or shell that you found out in creation... maybe a note someone wrote that told you how great you are, maybe that scripture passage, whatever. Whenever you're feeling the non-awesome creep in, put one hand in your pocket, and let the other hand give a peace sign (Alanis) to the negativity.
  • Tell someone else they're awesome. it will make them feel good, and will make you feel better.
  • Do something awesome.  A small act of kindness will boost someone else, but it will boost you, too.
  • Mute the commercials. It's bad enough having to watch, but then they tell you why you're not that awesome. And commercials are too loud, anyway.

Part of this DFTBA practice during Lent is about helping my two-year-old daughter Esther know she is awesome, too. My plan for her:

  • Every night when I tuck her in, I tell her she is loved and I tell her she is awesome/amazing/beautiful, etc.
  • Every night when I re-tuck her in, when she is already asleep and I am going to bed, I tell her the same stuff in hopes she hears it subliminally.
  • I read her stories with awesome female characters. This is one way I can control the images from the media that she is seeing.
  • I sing songs about God and use "she" and "her" as the gender pronoun, along with "he" and "his."
  • Snuggle her, hug her, kiss her, and tell her she's awesome whenever I want. 
  • When we say grace at dinner, I thank God for her, in front of her.

A prayer:
God, thank you for making me awesome. Help me to believe it, live it, and not forget it.

People of other faith traditions, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. This is AWESOME! How to do you coincide the idea that God made us AWESOME, with the idea that we are flawed and it is God's grace that makes us awesome? How do we maintain our humility and still love ourselves? Where is that balance?

  2. I like the literal interpretation of 'awesome'.

    Also, from a child psychology perspective, you'll get better results with her self-esteem is you praise her intrinsic qualities, i.e., hardwork, concentration, dedication etc., and not her extrinsic ones, i.e., awesomeness,beauty,amazingness etc.

    There have been studies that speculate that the 'entitlement' that has come to the XY and Y generations is from extrinsic praise. What a beautiful picture!, versus: That looks like it took a lot of hard work to make, dear. Good job, I like it.

    These studies are available on scholar.google.com and they don't take long to find if you'd like to do some light reading.

    1. Thanks! I've been coming across bits of those studies, too... It's hard to imagine hard work and concentration in a 2-yo, but there are definitely times when I praise her for trying hard, for trying again, etc.

      Maybe I'll be able to get into it a bit more when I get to the topic of "doing awesome."

  3. Hank's Twitter sent me here. Personally I am an atheist (I appreciate the disclaimer at the beginning of your post) but my feelings towards spirituality in general are good, provided it causes no harm to others. I think in many ways the idea of DFTBA is a hymn for the non religious, an affirmation of who we are and why we should always try to be the best version of ourselves. I like that it isn't just "Be Awesome," but "Don't Forget to Be Awesome." It sort of implies that the only way anyone is going to be bad or rotten or evil is if they lose their concentration or get led astray. Inherent in the statement is the assumption that mankind is, in essence, good, nay, awesome. This is something I think we tend to forget, not only from all the consumerism and self hate going on in the world, but also all the tales of suicide bombers and gay bashings and kids killing other kids with guns. It's easy to look at the world and the terrors that we as a species cause and the global environmental catastrophe that we are responsible for and think "Wow, are we worth all this? We suck!" Which is why I like that John and Hank don't just fight to decrease world suck, be to increase awesome and celebrate it wherever they find it.


    1. I agree! A lot of Lenten practices are about purging something "bad" from us, giving up a vice or a sin. But I'm trying to add something good!

  4. Thanks for your post, I really enjoyed it. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka a Mormon) I've had it emphasized to me throughout my life that not only are we created in the image of God, but we are actually his spirit children. How awesome is that? Again, it's hard to remember that in the day to day, but when I do think about it, it's empowering and helps me remember that I am awesome. There's a song we sing in the church called "I Am a Child of God", and it's one of my favorites to sing to my children to hopefully help them learn and remember that they have a Father in heaven.

    1. Most Christians (LDS or not) would agree we are all children of God.

  5. I'm a fairly nondefined Pagan, I don't follow any specific path but just my heart. I'm also addicted to cutting and trying to recover from it (along with coping with PTSD and bipolar II). I remember one night I relapsed after a year and a half and I just lying in bed beating myself up because I was so angry at myself for throwing all that time away.

    So, I closed my eyes, and a vision came to me. That night I met a Goddess and do you know what She said to me? That I am an awesome, strong, beautiful individual that was capable of so much, that I deserved to heal and I need to be kind to myself. That everything is going to be okay, everything will be okay.

    Whenever I'm feeling really bad now, I remember those words, I repeat them to myself. Sometimes She'll come back and chime in, that I musn't forget how great I am even if I can't see it yet. I know that despite all the struggles and pain, I am blessed.

    1. What an amazing experience. I am so glad you have Her wisdom to remind you that everything will be ok. Thank you so much for sharing it.