I have clear and vivid memories of what it was like to teach my children to drive a car. Similar to when they were first learning to pedal on a two-wheeler, what they thought would be a "piece of cake" turned out to be awkwardly difficult.
Funny how things feel a little different when you're no longer sitting in the passenger seat, but you're the one whose foot is fumbling between the gas pedal and brake and your hands are the ones nervously over compensating with the steering wheel!
Any time we begin something new we experience a little awkwardness, even if it's just a soon forgotten phase of time. But that's to be expected in the new and untried, right?
But what about all the other times we experience that uncomfortable sensation called awkwardness? Yuck!
Awkward has stopped me cold in my tracks at times. That frustrating, foolmaking, fumbling emotion is enough to make even the bravest soul
- turn around
- give up
- pretend this never happened
- change course
- assume this "isn't meant to be."
Awkward is, by definition, uncomfortable and unaffirming. It makes you feel like you must most certainly be "doing it wrong." It demeans and distracts and leaves us feeling damaged and dumb.
Have you noticed that on the other side of awkward, just past the point where you drop the ball or dodge the last bullet or dangle from your last nerve, there is often great reward?
That's right. Awkard is often the path, though it may be strewn with mishap and mayhem, that leads to some of life's most wonderful blessings.
In my life, awkard has been the threshold that tripped me up and then sent me diving head first into:
- new skills acquired
- published books
- ministry opportunities
- sweet and enduring friendships
- conquered fears
- amazing adventures
- a clean slate
- a powerful testimony of God's grace
- intimate conversations
- no regrets
- precious memories
- answered prayers
- spiritual victories
Need a little biblical perspective on how awkward
can serve us well if we're only willing to press through rather than tuck tail and run?
Consider how awkward Mary and Joseph had it when they tried to explain their predicament, along with tales of being touched by an angel, to their families. And look where pressing through got them.
Consider how awkward Moses must have felt each time he stood before Pharoah smelling like sheep and asking him to let God's people go. And look where pressing through got him.
Consider how awkward Noah must have felt when he ushered his family and pairs of each animal onto a boat he had constructed...out in the desert. And look where pressing through got him.
Consider how awkward Jesus must have felt when He looked into the eyes of people who didn't trust Him and later mocked Him and told them He loved them. And look where pressing through got Him.
Have you allowed awkwardness to send you packing? I have. Awkwardness has kept me from
- saying hello to a prospective friend
- developing meaningful relationships
- being real and transparent
- serving others
- trying new things
- reaching out to someone who is hurting
- blessing someone
- speaking up
- sharing the gospel
- learning a new skill
- having victory over satan
- giving more
What has awkwardness robbed you of?
I've noticed awkward showing up a lot lately. Maybe it always has, but I've noticed it rear its big, obtrusive head more than usual lately. I've watched as friends have gone through the awkwardness of grief, fumbling through the overwhelming and raw emotions and trying to figure out what to do with the void left behind by their loved one's passing.
I've watched my son and others trudge day after day through the awkwardness of "new." New job, new home, new people, new everything. And like learning to make it to the end of the day in stiff, new shoes, living with the awkwardness of new can tire you out, leave you feeling blistered and sore and weary.
I've watched a dear friend navigate the awkwardness of a difficult goodbye, a break in ties, a departure from that which is loved and familiar, to embrace the unknown. Awkward. There have been tears and uncertainty and worry. But there has also been perseverence and a holy anticipation.
By definition, none of us navigate awkward perfectly. If you walk through something unscathed and undaunted then it wasn't awkward at all, praise the Lord! No, awkward inevitably makes us feel clumsy and unpracticed and nervous and pushed beyond our capacity. So when you're trying to press through awkard...the newness, the unfamiliar, the unbendable and unbroken-in, the falling down and struggling to get back up, the stares and sneers, the embarassment, the cluelessness...don't worry if you don't seem to be doing it right.
There is no right...I don't think...unless you're doing something immoral, of course. There's just trying and persevering and trying again and staying the course and staying put and exercising faith...every last mustard seed-sized grain of it.
And then there's relief and beauty and success and familiarity and no-more-awkward.
Have you come face to face with awkard recently? I'd love to hear your story and what you gained...or lost...in the process.
Meanwhile, I leave you with this. If you're in an awkward place, press on. Hang in there. Don't be robbed of joy and success and your destiny simply because things got a little awkward in the process. Remember, awkward is simply the threshold you sometimes have to trip over, somewhat ungracefully, in order to get where you're meant to be.
Labels: anxiety, awkwardness, faith, God's grace