Awkward Silence

I’m awkward. You know that uncomfortable feeling you get when a person embarrasses themselves? I have that feeling every time I talk. I’m awkward. I try not to be, but I am. I don’t know why but people make me nervous. I suspect it is because I am left-handed. I found a survey that said 85% of left-handed people consider themselves awkward (www.lefthandersday.com). I could try tying my left hand behind my back before engaging in dialogue. I’m just not sure how greeting someone with, “Hi, I’m Shaena, would you mind tying me up”, would really solve anything. I’m awkward. There is a real, internal struggle happening while I interact that resembles a toddler on a balance beam. Sound graceful? It’s not.

Last Sunday I saw a girl sitting outside the theater where we meet for church. I knew I needed to talk to her. I knew because along with the thought that I had to talk with her came the voice that told me to keep walking.

I stopped anyway and introduced myself. I became painfully aware of my awkwardness from the moment our conversation began. I have a personal critic who mocks me from inside my head (Psalm 89:51). She is no doubt sarcastic and rude, but, most of the time, her arguments are pretty convincing.

“Really Shaena, this is not awkward at all. I mean look at all you have in common. She is young and hip and you are younger than some and carrying a baby on your hip. I can’t wait to watch you make a fool of yourself. Ha ha ha ha ha ( said in an evil Disney character voice)”.

It would have been easier to walk away. I could have walked away and just begged the Lord to send someone else, knowing He would. Instead, I pressed passed my insecurities and shared from my heart the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was awkward, both during and after. It was awkward because even as I spoke words of truth out loud, I could not completely drown out the voice that mocks me. Fortunately, the voice of the mocker has no power. Later, when those awkward feelings subsided, I was left with the peace of submitting to God’s will.

The Bible is home to the most famous awkward person in history, Moses. In Exodus 4, Moses is strategizing with God himself and still is overcome by a fatal dose of introspection.

vs 10, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant”

Translation, “God, I’m awkward”. (Insert: awkward silence.)

It sure is a good thing there was no one else around. I imagine there would be more than a couple of people gritting their teeth and shifting their eyes to hide their embarrassment for poor awkward Moses.

Um, seriously Moses, He’s God. Surely, since he created your mouth, sound, and everything else, he can get your back on a couple of speeches. But Moses couldn’t let it go. Instead, he chose to listen to that voice that screamed his inadequacies, and ignore the truth that was right there with him. He just could not believe that God would use him in spite of him, and in verse 13 Moses asks the Lord to send someone else.

vs 13 “Please send someone else”.

I’m awkward. Moses was awkward. The truth is, we are all awkward. That girl in the park was not an exception to this rule. I’m sure she has a mocker that makes her feel unsteady and unsure at times too. God’s word, however, gives believers power to challenge the mockers with truth, and the opportunity to carry that truth to the world. God challenged Moses’ mocker with truth, but Moses couldn’t believe Him. I’ve been there too, and am thankful that we don’t serve a “one shot” God.

God uses awkward people. Moses continued on to become a mighty leader of God’s people. Hebrews 11 acknowledges Moses for his life of faith (Hebrews 11:23-28). What will you be acknowledged for?
As I think about that girl in the park, I wonder about the impact a crazy lady with a baby on her hip might have had on her day. I can’t help but laugh. Whether I am a vessel God uses to help turn her heart to the Lord or not, I opened my mouth to let Him fill it (Psalm 81:10), and that is all He asks of any of us.

What makes you awkward? I’d love to laugh with you about silly idiosyncrasies that make you who you are! God can use those things too!

She Laughs

Sometimes I hear voices in my head. If I were to be totally honest, I’ve been known on more than one occasion to have full blown conversations with these voices. The other night, for example, I was sitting at Starbucks relishing the time I had all to myself when a familiar voice chimed in.

“Excuse me”, she asked. “Don’t you have something you should be doing”.

“Actually, no”. I replied. “My husband gave me the “night off”. I’m just going to hang here at Starbucks and read and write and… enjoy”

“You should have put the baby to bed. Nick will have a hard time getting her to go down.”

“He was insistent he could handle it. Besides, the kids love time alone with daddy”.

“He will let them stay up late. They’ll be tired in the morning. He will let them eat junk food, and then forget to brush their teeth. Your son will probably pass out from exhaustion and then pee the bed. You’ll be so behind on laundry tomorrow and your kids will be cranky from lack of sleep. You’ll get frustrated, send them up for an early nap. While in his room, your son will leap from the top bunk and break an arm. You should go home. You should go home right now!”

I begin to concede, ” I have been here 10 minutes already. I do feel somewhat refreshed. I’ll try again another night. ”

As I am packing up my book and notebook, she makes another remark. “After all you want to be like the Proverbs 31 wife, right? She would never take a night off.”

I stop. “Wait… what? Are you sure? Is that true?”

Silence.

I opened my Bible to Proverbs 31 and began to investigate whether being a wife of noble character, meant never taking any time for myself. It was like the scripture burst off the page and into my heart. Proverbs 31:25

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future!

“Ah ha” I thought. “She laughs! She laughs, so doesn’t that mean she’s doing something she enjoys?”

She laughs without a care in the world! She isn’t worried if she’ll have enough time to finish her quilt (22), or if her field wont sell (16), or if her alarm doesn’t go off and she sleeps in (15). She laughs because she has established a pattern of love to her husband, children, and to others. She laughs because that pattern allows her to take breaks and enjoy the fruit of her labor. More importantly, she laughs because she knows that after working hard to do the very best she can with what God has entrusted her, all she can do is just that, her best. She laughs because she trust in a God who holds her future and the future of her family in the palm of His hands.

I listened to my thoughts a minute to see if “she” would respond, but it was just me. I smiled to myself, thankful that God had empowered me to take my thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5) and bury them in the truth of His word. Thankful for a real and living God, who is always faithful to guide and protect me. With peace in my heart, I laughed, kicked up my feet, and continued to enjoy my “night off”.