It was a romantic notion, really; this jumping off into a place with no borders. When I decided to follow Jesus and leave behind beige living, I pictured myself doing something in vibrant color: I would be moving to a third world country, or starting a ground breaking non-profit, or maybe even becoming a famous writer. I would learn about fair trade and I would type my manuscripts on a vintage typewriter and I would take my vacations in Iceland or Uruguay, all while saving orphans and freeing slaves from a life of suffering. Oh, and I would have awesome abs. Because duh.
So I started doing things that scared me and I called it 'Jumping Into Awkward' because I thought that sounded compelling and super cool and even a bit risky.
Awkward was a nod to my misfit self; that part of me that doesn't really like to walk into conflict or tension of any kind. I should probably tell you that I'm married to a guy who pulls on his rubber boots and strides boldly into the center of conflict. He just clomps right into stinky, gross tension and says 'I see you and that green stuff between your teeth. Let's be friends'. And I'm the wife who stands on the edge of the muck, praying no one notices me and calls me out into the swamp and asks me to bring dental floss. Because, ew, I'm not going in there. I just scored these name-brand shoes for $12.99 at Ross and hurry up we have somewhere to be in half an hour. Get the picture?
But I was determined that if I stuck to the plan and embraced Awkward, I would finally arrive. I would arrive with my world traveler's tan and my passport full of stamps and a whole crop of new, interesting friends and stories.
So how's that little plan been working for me? Welp, I'm still living in Southern Oregon, I can't find my passport, my abs are not awesome, I still get pitty when I make myself talk to strangers, I'm whiter than Bill Clinton, I'm working in a beige cubicle every day and lately I've been neglecting this little blog. Say what? Hold up! Call Oprah and Grandma and John Tesh, 'cause that's a whole lot of awesomeness going on right there.
This journey through Awkward has looked nothing like I expected. So what does it really look like?
It looks like a 2:00 a.m. drive to a scary neighborhood to pick up someone who's probably lying to me. It looks like having to tell someone she can't get naked or smoke pot in my living room. It looks like sitting across from someone who just lost their mom, or someone who wants to kill herself, or someone who is leaving her drunk husband, or someone who is just pissed at God. It looks like swallowing my self righteous advice and saying "What do you need and how can I help?" It looks like giving up 'me time' so my daughter-in-law can have a break, it looks like endless stacks of dirty dishes that I didn't eat from, it looks like 6 gallons of baby puke on my white carpet. It looks like new wrinkles on my face and ugh-not-so-cute toenails. It looks like shining a flashlight on a path in the deep dark woods and shouting "Come on! I found it! Walk here!" It looks like sitting in my pajamas staring at an old computer screen, hoping my words mean something to you.
There's more, but let's stop for a second. Do you see the beautiful, broken mess? In all of my dysfunction and inadequacies I am following Jesus. It never looks how I think it will look; that's how I know I'm doing something right.
Awkwardness wrecked me for any other way of living.
....aaaaand this is where some of you will stop reading and move on with your day, if you haven't already. Honestly, I don't blame you. Go forth if you must, my friend.
BUT, if you're still reading, there are a few things you need to know before you jump.
I mean, if you're still reading I'm assuming it's because you've been thinking about jumping into Awkward with me. Ready? No? Good. Me neither. Or is it either? GAH!
1. CHASE THE TRUTH: In order to call out the best in people, I have to know who I am and why I'm here. I want to soak in scripture until the day I die because it reveals who I am and more importantly, who God is. Don't underestimate the importance of knowing God's word.
2. PUT FEAR IN THE CORNER WITH BABY: You are going to feel completely clueless and inadequate and stressed out. If you untangle it all, fear is in the center of it. Acknowledge the fear and the tension. Recognize that a healthy amount of fear and tension are needed to help you grow; just don't let them be the loudest voices in the room. And don't ever EVER let fear steer your decision making. (And by the way, if you grew up in the 80's, you will know that NO ONE puts Baby in a corner. So Fear will just have to sit there alone and pick his nose and sulk. See what I did there? Now go back and read #2 again because I know you were distracted by Baby being in the corner).
3. TRUST THE COUNCIL: Find a small 'council' of people you can share your journey with. My council meets once a week around a dinner table to work through life. The council speaks truth, holds me accountable and helps me dream. If that's not possible for you right now, make sure you have a few healthy friends you can count on. Honestly, I can't stress this one enough. So many of my friends are just treading water because they haven't cultivated a council. (I plan on writing more about how to do this later, because I have recognized this is a huge need around me right now).
Ok that's enough to get you started. May you find your stride today. May you walk in boldness and in all things messy and stinky and beautiful.
And may the God of all things Awkward delight in you today.
Which of the things above are hardest for you? Are there other things that help you live a compelling life? Please share with the class!
**photo courtesy of Natalie Rose Art. Visit her Etsy store and check out her amazing work!