by - October 18, 2012

I had a couple of specific prayers on a recent Sunday morning: “Please Lord, don’t let me be awkward, and don’t let me be late.” Both tall orders. The good news is I wasn’t late. Here is another direct quote from my journal that morning before going to meet my coworker and his wife who had invited me to church with them: “Please, please don’t let today be a day where I experience exactly what I pray not to experience just so I learn something. Please just let today be ok, and don’t let me be awkward.” I can look at that prayer and smile now, but I was seer-ee-uhs when I wrote it. I usually don’t share so blatantly from my journal, but somehow I think I’m not the only one who has ever prayed that. If you have ever felt awkward, or if you have ever asked for mercy, then maybe you can relate. 
A little back story:  I try really hard to be self-sufficient. I can take care of my own business. I will drive myself. I don’t need help. I will turn down your offer to help, to go, to drive, to be apart of, because I can take care of myself. And I will take care of you, too.  But me needing help means I'm failing to take care of business. And of all the things I fail at, I need to not fail at taking care of business, because...(as a counselor I'm going to make myself finish that sentence to get to the heart of my own wrong belief)... because there is no one to take care of me. (That's not awkward to share, right?) As much as I talk about trusting God...  I never want to be an inconvenience or bother to anyone, not even Him.  Guess which lie the devil likes to use on me.  That's not sweet, it's more like stiff-necked with a hint of defiance.   Man do I get tired of realizing that so many times what I think of as a strength is actually a weakness steeped in unbelief and pride. (I can take care of myself = Pride.  I have to take care of myself = Unbelief.)  The verse God keeps laying in my life, and I keep laying in this blog, is 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  I have prayed this past year to have a better understanding of God's grace and sufficiency in my life, I didn't realize I was praying for a better understanding of my weaknesses.  I know now that one does not, could not, come without the other.  With that realization, He has begun laying a new verse in my life...I wonder where it will lead. I know in a few weeks, at least, it will lead to India where there is not even a hint of self-sufficiency available for me.

I definitely have friends and loved ones who override my self-sufficient objections and go out of their way for me.  I recognize and am so thankful for you.  I pray I am that kind of friend to you. I'm only gracefully franking this because maybe some of you have tried to be your own strong tower. I feel awkward letting people help me, invite me, do for me, or know that I am not self-sufficient. Which is not a surprise to anyone in the universe but me.  So when I try to be less sufficient...I'm awkward.  (Is vulnerable a better word? Talk amongst yourselves.) I'll risk the awkwardness of sharing if it helps you look for cracks in your walls in order to break them loose, instead of put in more mortar.  It feels good to break a little loose.  And, I have to share this even if it makes me uncomfortable, because my answer to Him is yes. Yes, I will tell people of your faithfulness and my awkwardness. Which leads me to that Sunday morning prayer...

A few weeks ago I went on two 8 hour road trips with co-workers (to Branson, MO and back). A lot of Mumford and Sons. (“If only my enemy were bigger than my apathy.” I still can’t get that line out of my head.) Some testimony. Some barbecue. A lot of highway. Conversations led me to share how it has been hard to plug into a church since being in Plano.  Not being a part of a church family has magnified feelings of separation.  It has been a long and alone time, which has been heightened by what we have been going through as a family.  If ever there were a time I wanted to be near my friends and family, it's been now.  If ever I have felt very far away from them it's been now.  I know I will look back on this time as precious time that the Lord broke me of yet another stronghold by His grace.  But let's just say I'm ready to look back on this time.  Thankful for it.  Wouldn't undo it. But, Mercy.

So I said yes to the invitation to go to church with my co-worker and his wife. Since I’ve told the Lord the answer would be yes this year, I couldn't overly reassure my friend that I was ok and then go back to being at church alone this weekend. I kind of had to say yes. Thankfully, and probably awkwardly. So I prayed to not be awkward, and I went. I was on time, at least to the parking lot.  I don't know if it is my new church home, but I am going to go back, and keep saying yes.  And my friends were very welcoming.  I did not feel awkward! Until the Pastor, Matt Chandler, said “We are going to talk about what Jesus says about sex and lust. It is about to get awkward in here.” I leaned up, thanked my new friends for inviting me, then sat back so we could all feel a little awkward together. Good times. God is funny.  He answered my prayer...mostly.  It was a great sermon, and so good to hear God’s truth unashamed. Matt’s enemy was bigger than his apathy or fear of awkward. God is good to us. And His ways are good for us. And I think He might have been watching my face when Matt actually used the word "awkward," God's well timed punch line for the day.   

A brief aside...
If you are already comfortable in church, it might be good to realize that for some of the rest of us it is exponentially easier to walk into church invited, than getting up the nerve to go in and sit by ourselves, even as couples. Don’t presume if they wanted to go they would ask you, or that they know they are always invited. Call them. Text them. E-mail them.  Don’t answer for them in your head. If they say no, ask them again some other time.  Keep asking.  (Did someone, some couple or some family come to mind when you read that sentence?)  And don’t judge or condemn people for not running to feel alone at church. Instead, invite them and be the hands and feet God uses to make them feel welcome. Like my co-worker and his wife.  Instead of just praying for me, they invited me.  And for those of us who are like me...keep going and keep praying. Invite someone to go with you, or go to the Sunday School/Small Group class to actually meet people. Go talk to the Pastor, or other church leader about where you could visit or serve to get plugged in.  Humble yourself and pray. God is faithful, and he loves you, and way beyond that...He is worthy to not be an inconvenience to me or you, or for us to be more concerned about feeling awkward than being a part of the fellowship.  That is a ridiculously huge understatement. I know it can be hard, even painful, but He is Jesus. The Messiah.  He understands hard and painful.  Perspective.  Don't sympathize with anything in your life that keeps you from obedience to Christ...said me to myself. 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."   Hebrews 12:1-2

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