Tacos are awesome. A great deal on a new pair of shoes is awesome. Blog posts are awesome. Saving money on your car insurance, awesome. I recently watched a TED talk by Jill Shargaa suggesting that we “put the ‘awe’ back in ‘awesome.’
Jill said, “When you use the word awesome to describe the most mundane of things, you are taking away the very power of the word.”
We far too easily miss the meaning of words like awe and awesome. Awesome is defined as “extremely impressive or daunting, inspiring great admiration, or awe-inspiring.” Do our tacos really inspire awe? Does that discount really inspire great admiration?
The word awe is defined as “a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.”
Jill Shargaa is on to something. We use the word awesome so flippantly that we don’t even realize what we are saying. But I actually think that while we don’t realize what we are saying when we throw around the word awesome, we are actually speaking to a great theological truth.
In the words of Emmet, the prophetic, ordinary Lego, “Everything is awesome!”
The ordinary things of this world might be too often described as awesome. But at the same time, there is something awe-inspiring about the complexity of the simple things in this world. Take for example that sandwich that you got from Jimmy John’s.
Is it really awesome?
The sandwich alone probably not. But what about all that went into it. Someone grew all the ingredients, somebody baked the bread. Some business person years ago started a franchise that would grow into what Jimmy John’s is today. We could go on… the sandwich alone might not be awe-inspiring. But the way God worked in order to make that sandwich a reality in your life might in fact be awesome.
The Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, "The insights of wonder must be constantly kept alive. Since there is a need for daily wonder, there is a need for daily worship.”
Everything is awesome.
And as we are inspired by the awe and wonder of the world around us, we are driven to worship the one who created it. From the the oddities like tacos and discounts on clothes to the truly magnificent things like a sunset or the Grand Canyon or seeing your kid take their first steps, they point us to the one who gives us every good gift.
It could be easy to get frustrated at how commonly we use the word awesome. And maybe it’s even over-used. But maybe, the people who use it all the time are onto something. And the rest of us just haven’t been looking close enough. Maybe they see something that we haven’t.
Photo Credit: Sunfox