Being awesome, I’ve been told, is hard work. On the other hand, I’ve been told, you’re just born with awesome. Others seem to develop awesome over time. To be honest, I don’t think I’m all that awesome. I’m just me and I do what I can. I’m not like Captain Awesome or even Pastor Awesome. I’m just Josh, not much else. But I do know what it takes to be awesome and to tell the truth, it’s not the route to awesome you’d think it’d be.
The word “awesome” itself seems to have first appeared sometime around 1538. It means to express awe towards something or to have something inspire awe. This definition can be used in ways such as “The awesome power of the ocean” or “Hercule’s tasks were awesome in scope.” And then there’s the other definition that I remember from the ’80’s and has been in use since then. Awesome means to be extraordinary, to be terrific, to be downright sweet and radical (totally, dude). It’s really all three definitions that play into being awesome.
And it generally takes three lousy steps to get there. People don’t realize that it takes lousy steps not fun steps to get to being truly authentically awesome as a person. So what are these lousy steps?
Lousy Step 1–Feel pain. Yep, that’s right. Feel pain. Allow pain to happen. Allow yourself to feel the pain of life hit and hit hard. This sounds counter productive and counter intuitive to being awesome, but it’s so very much needed.
To be honest, we don’t like feeling pain. We don’t like feeling physical pain and we really don’t like feeling emotional pain. For some odd reason, we feel as if we should be exempt from pain. And if we do somehow feel pain (especially emotional pain) we try to push it down, play it off, say that it’s just weakness leaving the body, that it’s “no pain no gain” type of thing. And then shrug it off and not allow ourselves to feel it at all.
Don’t do that. Allow yourself to feel pain. When we allow ourselves to feel pain–both physical and emotional–something happens. In our suffering we begin to show compassion to others who are suffering. And we have one who suffered for us, Jesus. Not just that but we are able to have comfort in our suffering due to the sufferings of Jesus and in turn comfort others who are suffering. Feeling pain allows us to be present with others in their pain and suffering, being able to show compassion because we too have pained. Thus awesomeness is present.
Lousy step 2–Be vulnerable. This is connected to feeling pain. We like to hold our cards close to our chest. We don’t like to let people know what’s really going on. We worry that if we somehow do we’ll be judged and found wanting. We worry that if we open ourselves up and be vulnerable to someone they’ll use it against us later on in life. We are afraid of letting someone else into our lives and be vulnerable because then we lose control of…well, everything.
When we open up our lives to others and become vulnerable, we allow ourselves to become real people. Not just that, but we give permission to those around us to be open and vulnerable too. Some will accept that invitation, and yes, there will be some who not only won’t but might even exploit it. But that’s the danger and the reward of being vulnerable. When we allow others into our lives we do run the risk of some not only rejecting the invitation but exploiting us. But I think the rewards outweigh the risks. When we open ourselves up and become vulnerable, deeper friendships and relationships are built and we are no longer alone. And thus awesomeness is present.
Lousy step 3–Give up and give in. Again, kinda counter productive. We want control over everything. We want control over our lives. We want control over our relationships, our families, and especially our children (whether we admit it or not). We want to have that good relationship. We want our children to have the life we never had or to not miss out on any opportunity. And so we push ourselves hard, we push others hard, we push our children hard. And we get tired. Trying to be in control of all things around us is hard work. And when we lose control, when we don’t have control over a situation or a person or finances we freak out. And it usually ain’t pretty.
Instead, give up and give in. To be honest, you only have control over one thing–your reaction. You cannot have control over other people or situations or over life itself. You do have control over how you react to other people and situations and life itself. When things go bad or go south, you can’t control that but you can control how you handle it. It gets tiring trying to control everything and we become burdened down both in body and in soul. Jesus in turn invites us to come to him when we’re weary and heavy burdened and he will give us rest. The thing is, is that this requires us giving up and giving it. It requires us to give up our control and give in to letting Jesus have control of our lives. But when we do, something amazing happens. We have a new perspective on things, a new way of seeing things. We’re still in the same crap we’re in, but we treat it different because we gave up control and gave into Jesus. And the awesomeness continues onward.
You’re not really born with awesomeness. Instead, being awesome takes work. It takes a whole lot of working hard to not do stuff like not feel pain, not be vulnerable, not give up or give in. When we stop working hard at those things, we begin to understand awesome much better.
Think about those whom you might label as awesome. They’re people you look up to, aspire to be like, desire to know. Their awesome exudes out of them like some sort of expensive cologne of musk and sandalwood. And yet in their awesome they don’t flaunt it, they live it, they experience it, and they pass it on. They truly are awesome.
How can you use these three lousy steps to be truly awesome?