The idea of an ordinary life being extraordinary first began to gel in me as I bemoaned my lack of a platform. In the writing world. publishers are very keen on writers who have a built-in platform, or market, like a celebrity minister, or a high-profile personality, or a megachurch pastor. Good writing is important, and a brilliant concept will get a publisher’s attention, but the question of “What’s your platform?” invariably gets brought up as well.
As this harsh reality became clear to me I began to examine my life. What’s my platform? Academia? Nope. The only degrees I have are the ones I earned from junior high and high school. Ministry accomplishments? Well, nothing spectacular. Just run-of-the-mill church volunteerism and a few years with YWAM. Um, what about my blog? Ok, it’s a start. But it’s not really a bona fide platform. It’s more like a soapbox in the woods, a place where I sound off to vagabond travelers who have gotten off the main road.
And then, one day, it dawned on me. I figured out what my writing platform was.
My platform is that I have no platform!
This epipheny flooded me with a renewed sense of vision and call. My ordinary, everyday life is the platform I am writing from. It is the authority I confidantly possess and can pass on to my readers, whether on the blog or in print publications. My perspective, untethered from academic learning, is my unique voice offering another point of view. Because I have no platform power, this drives home the point that I am an ordinary woman discovering how truly extraordinary that is. I am my message.
My teenaged daughter and I have had a few conversations about this. I was thrilled to discover this quote on one of her online social networking profiles: An ordinary life is an extraordinary life.
I asked her, “Hey, where did you get that? Is it yours? Did you write that on your own?” I was pleased to learn that she had created this insight on her own, fruit from our talks about how God must love ordinary people since he made so many of us.
It’s a simple truth, but like most simple truths, it is an overlooked, forgotten truth. In the garden of life, where show stopping roses get the blue ribbon, the common wild rose grows in secret beauty, unnoticed, on the side of a lost highway. It’s ordinary existence is extraordinary, whether anyone pays attention to it or not.
I think I have found a hidden vein in my writing bones. Crevices, caves and tunnels that I need to explore to uncover buried treasure, the treasure of an ordinary life lived. The treasure of an ordinary life like mine.
I welcome your input. Your ideas. Any books that you have read that encouraged you that it’s ok if you don’t leave a mark on the world or do something big with your life. I want to add my voice to that platform, to the whispered song that says yes, you do matter.
A big factor in my journey of discovering my ordinary platform has been Bill Dahl. Bill wrote a work called The Porpoise Diving Life. It’s not a slam on the mega best seller, The Purpose Driven Life, but rather, it’s a book that asks the question, What about day 41? (this is in reference to PDL’s 40-day plan to get the reader locked into their purpose). Bill generously gave me an audio copy of his book, which I often listened to while driving. One evening, as I loaded up my vacuum and cleaning bucket, headed out for a cleaning gig for my small home/office cleaning service, I was feeling low. Does my life matter? What if I don’t have a purpose or can’t find it, or worse, what if I find it and then can’t live up to it?
As I listened to PDL these words filled my car as I headed towards the Lloyd Center district of my jobsite:
Maybe you don’t feel that your purpose in life has been predetermined like a bullet fired from a gun headed for the target…there’s not much you can do about the trajectory of the projectile after your Creator has pulled the trigger at birth. Perhaps your life experience has been more like a ricochet, bouncing off one experience into the next. You’re not an exception.
Maybe you don’t feel driven all the time by some sort of burning passion, the need to succeed or a distinct sense of unwavering purpose. If this is the case, relax. You have loads of company.
These simple words reverberated through my insecure heart and caught my attention. They floated in my head for a while before landing, like seeds, on the soft earth of my inner world.
When I got to my job site I bumped into Larry. Larry is a professional cleaner who runs his own service. We’ve talked a few times. A jovial man, Larry shared his testimony with me one of the first times I had met him. He was a new Christian. He worked nights and weekends so attending church was not working out for him. But he managed to find a mid-week men’s bible study that suited him and his schedule. Whenever I talked with Larry I felt like we were having church! We’d talk about the good things that we were learning about God’s love and grace; we’d tell each other what we were currently reading in the bible, or what Christian truth was making an impact on our thinking and living.
Larry spoke with a simple dialect. A bright man, he spoke with the vocabulary of the everyday man. This is my heart language and I enjoyed talking with him very much.
The night I got to the job site, feeling low, listening to PDL about not having an unwavering sense of purpose, it all came to a head. And Larry was right in middle of it. We began to talk and I told him, ‘I don’t have a purpose in life.” Larry became animated. He began preaching passionately to me. “Don’t say that! Yes you do have a purpose! God created you and you’re here to have relationship with him!” Larry refused to let me leave the parking lot until I could tell him that yes, ok, I do have a purpose in life, and though that purpose may not seem profound, the fact that God created me to know him and his Fatherly love is purpose enough.
For the rest of the evening I reflected on that. As I dusted and vacuumed and mopped what seemed like miles of floors, I soaked up the words of Bill Dahl’s PDL, and Larry the Parking Lot Preacher.The lie that my ordinary life does not matter began to fade. It was being weeded out of the soil of my heart as those seeds of hope and truth took root. I can celebrate my ordinary existence simply because I exist in a world created by a loving Creator.
An ordinary life is an extraordinary life. Even the life of a writer who smells like bleach.
**thanks to all who have read all of the Ordinary blog posts. Your response and feedback has helped me tremendously in conceptualizing a larger work on this topic. You are my extraordinary ordinary blog readers!!!!!!!!!!!