Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 3: What Awesome Is Not...

Speak so that you are not misunderstood.

This quote, the origins unknown to me, though I first heard it from a pastor of a mega-church somewhere in the Sandias, came to mind unexpectedly today.  My head was underwater (literally).  As I moved the liquid past me, pulling the air into my lungs at patterned intervals, I was quieted.  My movements were second nature.  Ingrained.  Muscle memory so strong, formed decades ago.  I realized a few years ago that I shouldn’t try to teach someone how to swim.  I dear friend was training for her first triathlon and wanted to work on the swim portion.  She knew I was a swimmer, so she asked for help.  But after weeks in the pool, I realized I can’t mentally break down the mechanics of the individual movements: when to kick, which arm to move in what way at what time, how to breathe and when.  I just get in the water and do it.  I swim because I don’t have to think about it.  And when I try, I lose my rhythm.  Eventually, I was reduced to googling instructional videos and showing them to her; not because my stroke looked different than those featured in the images, but because I simply could not offer anything more articulate than, "just get in the water and do it." 
For me, swimming requires no thought, aside from counting laps.  And when I say, "the awesome," I know exactly what I mean.  Yet, I wonder if it calls to mind the same meaning for you, as it does for me.  Perhaps “The Awesome” is something that requires an adequate definition so that it is not mistaken.  So that anyone who happens upon these 21 Days cannot mistake what I intend for something sprung out of a Western, individualized, self-glorifying culture.  Maybe, from this frame of reference, it is easier to begin with what awesome is not in order to build to what it is.     
Awesome is not pride.[1]  It’s not getting up in the morning and saying, "I am awesome, completely and utterly unto myself.  I identify myself as awesome; I make myself awesome; and I maintain my awesome.”  I.  I.  I.  Pride is pride, not awesome.  And pride is unattractive, self-gratifying, and empty.  Awesome is radiant.  Awesome edifies others, as well as self.  And awesome embodies meaning.[2]** 
Awesome is also not a fake-it-till-you-make-it endeavor.  Awesome can’t be faked.   You can fake feeling awesome, for a while.  But that is so strained and requires so much effort that even the most carefully constructed façade of awesome will eventually crumble.  And the ruin, particularly of this type, is what the world trades in. 
Awesome is not something you can strive toward; there is no goal designated, “awesome enough.”  Awesome is inherent.  Awesome is palpable.  Awesome takes up the space inside you, like water; while still allowing other things (identities, dreams, hopes, loves, memories, life) inside of it.  Awesome is a vast ocean of meaning, a deep well of whom you are and who you’re designed to be.**
And like the mirrored surface of water, awesome reflects the heavens; or rather, the Maker of the Heavens.  In you. 

[1] See:  Leviticus 26:18-20, Job 20:5-7, Proverbs 16:17-19, Isaiah 2:16-18, Galatians 6:3-8, 1 John 2:15-17
[2] **Don’t worry, we’ll dig deeper into each of these in posts to come.
Photos (in order of appearance) from: and

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