Reclaiming A Word: Living An #epic Life

by MitchellRichards

This post is long overdue. I don’t know why, but every once in a while, our culture embraces funny words, slogans, icons, and things of that nature and we just run with it. For example: the entire Charlie Sheen incidents of recent memory. The US was completely obsessed with this guy and anything he would say. People are still using the phrase “winning” to describe anything and everything deemed decent. Or when the Jersey Shore was in the height of its popularity, I couldn’t go through my Facebook feed without seeing a post similar to “GTL lol”.

Every once in a while, our culture just latches on to these little moments, and while I try to stay away from them personally, I can’t help but notice how pop culture oozes its way into our lives.
That being said…can we all stop using the word “epic” to describe everything?

Epic is a word used to describe a great story or poem, it is supposed to be used to describe a great act of heroism. The Alamo is an epic battle and a grand story. Homer’s “Odyssey” is an epic poem. A picture of your cat playing with a ball of yarn? Not epic. Your night of singing “Jukebox Hero” at karaoke? Not epic. You twisting your ankle in pickup basketball? Not an epic fail.

But yet we use this word to describe everything that is happening around us. Can we kill it?

Using a grand word to describe a decent event is ruining the word we use, and not only that, but it is also killing our expectations of the grand things yet to come. If we use the word epic to describe the trivial, what word do we have left to describe the sensational? What word do we use to describe the heroism of the man who runs into a burning building and saves the entire family? What word do we use to describe the great story being written in someone’s basement right now? Epic? I just don’t think it works, because one man’s description of sweat and labor and great story is another man’s description of his cat’s picture.

But this principle of “epicness” also applies to our lives as well. By using great words to describe little things, we are also trivializing meaningless actions by calling them great. I must confess, I have never performed anything, or written anything great to be able to use the word epic to describe it. But what happens if I do? Society will have robbed me of my adjective.

On the same note, we are all trying to live this “epic” life, but my life, the story I’m living, is really not that epic. You look in the Bible and read some of those stories, and they are amazing stories. You’ve got this guy who thinks the world is going to flood so he rounds up animals and puts them in a boat. A boy who slays a giant, then becomes king. A tale of an entire group of people enslaved by the Egyptians only to be freed and then wander around in the desert for a long time. A baby born in a barn that grows up to die for the sins of the world. All epic stories. All epic lives.

Meanwhile, a man sits in his boxers in his apartment and types on his computer. #epic

If we are going to use the word epic, we have to reclaim its meaning by actually living an epic life. I have friends who do this, who just go out and do what God is telling them to do. They travel the world, they heal the sick, and they help the poor. And even though their lives are flawed, even though they sin, they live lives of great risk and danger, they live stories awesome enough that I want to write them down and tape them into the back of my Bible because that’s the place they belong, they actually live epic lives.

Meanwhile, a man sits in his boxers in his apartment and types on his computer. #epic

The greatest thing I have done in a long time is re-enroll in school. I haven’t been in college for almost 6 years, after I dropped out when I decided I didn’t want to do what I thought I wanted to do. By no means is enrolling in community college epic. But the roots of a great story have to be planted somewhere. In the Odyssey, Odysseus isn’t battling Cyclops and being tempted by the Sirens on page one. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker isn’t light sabering fools from the Dark Side in the opening scene. So while we can’t use the word epic to describe the small, unimportant occurrences in our lives, we cannot mistake the story God had written us into, the epic story of our own existence. The story we must decide to live in, the one filled with heroics and romance, difficult roads and twists and turns. I hope we can see the difference between what we call epic and the epic story we are actually in.