Last summer I found myself wandering lost in the wilderness of disappointment. We had moved the year before, full of expectation for what lay ahead. But one by one, each of the things we had anticipated fell by the wayside. We weren’t victims. Life just simply has a way of taking unexpected turns. In our case, life had taken an abnormal amount of unexpected turns, and I was having trouble keeping up. I couldn’t see what God was doing, and I was angry that he wasn’t doing what I wanted.
On the outside, it looked like we had everything we ever wanted. It was everything I had ever wanted. A beautiful house with a swimming pool on an acre. Dinner parties under trees lined with twinkle lights. It was a dream come true in more ways than I could count. People came to our house and gawked at its beauty. It felt good. But it didn’t feel right. We were stressed out. We were short with each other and short with our kids. We were running around making sure it looked like we “made it” in the eyes of the world, only to find we were “losing it” more and more each day. Losing what truly mattered as we fought to keep what was tearing us apart. We had joined the have-more, do-more rat race. And the race was sucking the life out of us.
I cried out to God to do something, and he gave me a promise in Isaiah 43:19.
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
I liked the idea of God forging a river in my wasteland. But I didn’t understand. Nothing was changing on the outside. We were living to pay our bills, and we were losing our family in the process. The only way to keep up was to work harder. Make more money. Do more. Be more. Have more. I begged and pleaded with God. “Do something! Show us what to do!”
As Christmas drew near, I begged harder. “Where’s the river, God? Where’s the new thing you promised you would do?”
A story flooded my mind of a man standing before Jesus, crying out to him for help.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “My Rabbi, I want to see!” Mark 10:51
And that’s when I realized the river was already there. I just couldn’t see it.
So, I cried out again, “Show me, God! I want to see. Show me what to do!”
And God scooped me up, laid me against his chest and whispered softly in my ear. What do you want, Melissa? All of this…the house, the things, the parties…these are ordinary. Do you want ordinary? Or do you want extraordinary?
“I want extraordinary! Show it to me, God! Show me the way.”
Let go of your house.
“No! Not my house. I need this house. I can’t give up my house.”
My child, if you let go of your tight-fisted grip on your dreams, there will be room for the dreams I have for you. Open your hand and you’ll see. Open your hand, and I’ll open your eyes. And I’ll show you something extraordinary.
So, I pried my fingers open, and I released what I thought I wanted. And I found that it wasn’t really what I wanted at all. My eyes were suddenly opened to a bigger dream. A God-sized dream that finally had room to grow.
Two days later the house sold to a couple living in Germany who had never seen the house. We closed this past Thursday. It was the smoothest, most uneventful house closing we’ve ever experienced. We are renting the house from them until the end of July while we discover the new dreams God is planting in our hearts. We don’t know exactly what he’s up to, but we know he’s good and he has good for us. We also know that we want to live differently. We want to live in a way that goes again the grain of our culture. We want to live open-handed and open-eyed. We want to value relationships over stuff and adventure over impressions. We don’t yet know fully what this looks like, but we are making space so that God can move.
In the meantime, we’re searching for extraordinary in the people and places right in front of us.
Searching for extraordinary is about letting go of our tight-fisted grip on what we think we want so we can receive what God wants for us. It’s about choosing to see the good all around us. It’s about living fully alive and fully awake.
Searching for extraordinary is about getting up and living life instead of waiting around for life to happen. It’s about realizing that extraordinary things are all around us, if we choose to see them. It’s about letting go of what’s good to find what’s great. It’s about ending the search for the American Dream and searching for a much Bigger Dream. A dream less about money and more about people. A dream less about keeping up and more about keeping what matters.
Searching for extraordinary is about jumping out of the rat race to gain more things and more happiness and slowing down in order to enjoy the people and places right in front of us. It’s about finding wildflowers in the desert or rivers in the dry wasteland. It’s about finding light in the darkness and joy in the pain. It’s about being alert and present to what God is doing right here. Right now. It’s seeing the beauty in the here-and-now instead of pining for the back-then or someday-when. It’s letting go of fear and taking hold of courage. It’s living with open hands, open eyes and open hearts.
When we open our hands, God opens our eyes. Extraordinary is all around us. Sometimes we just have to go looking for it.
Our family is searching for extraordinary this year. We’re ready for an adventure. But first we’re letting go of our tight-fisted grip on what we think we deserve. What we think life should look like. And we’re ready to exchange it for a life that is full to the brim. Not with things. Not with ease or convenience. But with hope. With rest. With courage and generosity. With hearts that beat in tune with God’s heart. We’re ready to live full alive and fully awake.
We’re searching for extraordinary. Want to join us?