The Trouble With Extraordinary {Day 11}

by | Oct 11, 2013 | Uncategorized

I’m in love with light these days. Fall gently slides her foot into the door, slanting her glowy incandescence over what was hidden from plain sight in summer’s joyful brightness. It’s quite extraordinary.


If you’ve known me for long, you know my camera is my close companion, my third arm on the journey of life. Photography settles the sediment of my soul and lifts beauty to the surface in a way like nothing else. But place me in front of the lens, as the object of focus in the frame, well that is another story.

I’ll dissect myself, until there is nothing useful left. And that isn’t something I’ve learned as an adult, it started early.

I have very few photos from my childhood but one of them coincides with the day my mother brought home our first camera, a day building upon weeks of anticipation. You would never know that I was joyful about our new purchase by looking at that photo.

Sitting in a high back arm chair, my knees are pulled up to my chest, nose scrunched and eyes wet with tears rolling down my cheeks. It’s obvious I’m throwing a fit.  I’m sure my mother was as surprised about my reaction as I was while I was having it.

Now looking back, I realize being in front of the camera stirs up the deepest kind of vulnerability, a fear that you’ll notice all my imperfections.  I still have to talk to myself kindly when someone takes my photo. I know, it sounds ridiculous.

I’ve turned joyfulness into legalism, allowing it only in instances of  the extraordinary and the accolades of good fortune. I don’t fit into the rules I create for it. I’m not extraordinary enough to be the object of attention, someone’s artistic gift.

Which I know in my head, isn’t the truth.


As I’ve shared from the deep end of vulnerability this month, I’m recognizing a pattern in myself. My initial reaction about being authentic is fear. I want to do what I did in that childhood picture and retreat, go back to the comfortable, protective mechanisms I’ve created for myself instead of being honest. I almost titled this post Let Go and Lighten Up. It would’ve sounded much different than this.

But God won’t let me get by with that anymore. He is serious about this. He wants you and me to be free from the scaffolding we build for ourselves. Those good intentions that keep us stuck in stages of remodeling, instead of roaming free in the rooms of a new house.

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown says, “We equate ordinary with boring or, even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless.”

And our lives aren’t meaningless folks. Ordinary is a gift.

Joy isn’t an unreachable standard, a goal attached to a list of rules to follow. Jesus chose us, not because of our extraordinariness, but because His extraordinary life lives in us.


Let’s turn our fear into gratitude and allow Him to set us free from the tyranny of the standards we place upon ourselves.

I’m thankful for that single shot of any ordinary day of my childhood. It reminds me that I’m still desperately needy for Him. I don’t have everything figured out and I hope I never will.

I’m capturing the Light and seeing redemption in it. What about you, what are you thankful for?


 Join us in the comments and for further discussion at Redemptions Beauty Book Club on The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown as we let go of numbing, powerlessness and scarcity this week to cultivate a heart of resilience, gratitude, and joy. This is day 11 of 31 Days of Letting Go in the Deep End. Find out more here and join us for daily posts delivered to your inbox by adding your email address to Subscribe in the sidebar. It only takes a few seconds and it’s painless, I promise.

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  1. Jessica Mueller

    I love this,
    “Let’s turn our fear into gratitude and allow Him to set us free from the tyranny of the standards we place upon ourselves.”

    It’s stirring and letting loose those chains I’m still holding.

    • Shelly Miller

      Giving thanks for the way God is speaking to you Jessica.

  2. becca1612

    I love this! 🙂

  3. Anna K.

    “I’ll dissect myself, until there is nothing useful left. And that isn’t something I’ve learned as an adult, it started early.” — That’s me. I am a pro at dissecting myself.

    I’m going through a season of learning to let go of that behavior and it hasn’t been easy…but your series is helping. Thank you!

    • Shelly Miller

      Humbled to know that Anna, thankful for a season of letting go and learning. It’s a good place despite how painful it can be sometimes.

  4. Jillie

    Thank you, my friend, for this meaty message. You’re helping me to see that having what appears to be an “ordinary” life…IS the gift. Because HE is what makes the ordinary, extraordinary. I just need to remember that when I’m feeling insignificant, which has been often as of late. This is quite the food for thought, Shelly. I’m filing this one, along with others in this series.

    • Shelly Miller

      What a gift you’ve given me in this comment Jillie. Rejoicing with you about new perspective.

  5. Missindeedy

    “If everyone is super, then no one is.” is a quote from “The Incredibles” that my husband and I talk about more often than you can imagine. The quote from Brene` Brown on joy perfectly captures that sentiment, too. And it’s one I struggle to remember on the most ordinary of days. I cling to the desire to pull back from the need to have as many life moments as possible be WOW and amazing. Our Jesus was so not about that. I want to see the joy in the ordinary moments of my day – because that’s where the light filters through the most beautifully, isn’t it?

    • Shelly Miller

      I love that quote Missy. Isn’t it interesting how random things stick with us and minister in a way we never expected? I have this same thing going on in my life, addicted to the wow only to miss the joy in the ordinary. Working on it.

  6. Nancy Ruegg

    Here’s what I see, Shelly: As you capture the light, you are reflecting it to others. Jesus in you has indeed created an extraordinary person–one who is tremendously gifted with words as well as photography, an overcomer of a difficult childhood, a servant-missionary, pastor’s wife, giver of hope and encouragement, and purveyor of God’s grace–all wrapped up in one incredible woman who is YOU! You ARE redemption’s beauty! Knowing your humble spirit, I’ve probably turned your cheeks pink! But sometimes we need reassurance that God’s transforming power is having effect within. I just wanted to be that voice for you today!

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m soaking up your words and steeping in them Nancy. Honored by them and humbled. Thank you. And yes, its always good to hear that my words which are inspired by His presence, are resonating with someone. God definitely used your voice today.

  7. Shelly Wildman

    How do you do it, Shelly? It seems like every day you take just what I’ve been struggling with (or struggling to say) and put words to it. I’m grateful for your clarity because it has helped me see myself in new ways as well.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh I love it when God does that Shelly. It’s good to know we’re on the same road isn’t it? Thanks so much for letting me know that. God is faithful.

  8. Nancy Ruegg

    It’s me again! Wanted to let you know I highlighted your wonderful blog in my post today, over at From the Inside Out. ALL GOOD–not to worry!

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