Step into the Awkwardness

It was a few weeks ago. I was almost home after running errands all afternoon. Once home, I would have the perfect amount of time to get things settled around the house before leaving for book club.

As I was driving along, delighted with how well the day’s timing was working out, my eye caught a woman walking alongside the road. I felt something tug on me when I saw her.

I knew what I needed to do. So without a second thought – and being fully aware that I had no idea what this interaction would hold – I quickly did a u-turn.

[Now, I know what some of you are thinking. That’s dangerous. A woman shouldn’t be picking up some stranger off the road. Yes, I know about all the dangers. This is not a habit. In fact, if I’ve ever done this before at all, it’s been many years ago. But back to the story…]

I’m pretty sure my u-turn upset someone driving nearby – because I heard a horn honking as I was approaching the woman. That’s a little awkward. Oh well…

I rolled down the window, said ‘hi’, and asked if she needed a ride. She immediately said ‘yes’ and started opening the car door. Wow. That was quick. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea…

But I was committed at this point. So I moved my stuff to the backseat, and she got in. Her quick response surprised me. I’m sure I was noticeably guarded when we first drove off.

Between doing this so spontaneously, getting honked at for my abrupt u-turn, and letting what seemed to be an overly eager stranger into my car, I was feeling a little awkward.

After exchanging names, she told me the easiest place to drop her off would be the QT at Hearon Circle. Excellent. All we needed to do was hop onto I-85 and we would be there in less than five minutes.

Only… I was a little flustered by the awkwardness of the situation and was trying my best to still make conversation with this woman. I won’t even tell you the ridiculous, round-about way that I finally got us onto 85.

At some point during my absurd route to the interstate, Jasmine* looked over at me, obviously concerned, and asked, “Are you from around here???”

I could only laugh. Here I was, uneasy about what she might be up to – while she was equally rattled by what I might be up to!

I assured her that I was a Spartanburg native with a very weak sense of direction [which grows all the weaker when put on the spot].

Finally, we made our way onto 85. And soon afterward, our conversation found its rhythm.

Before I knew it, she was telling me about her regular walk to and from work and the strong responsibility she feels to be a hard worker. “We’ve been given these hands to do something… I don’t want hand-outs if I can do something myself.” In fact, she had just finished an overtime shift at work when I picked her up.

Then she mentioned her church home. Which easily brought her to the subject of tithing. Tithing. Of all the subjects we could have ended up discussing, this is not one I would have guessed. She had strong convictions about obeying God in this way.

I was so pleasantly surprised to hear all of this pouring out of her. Then, she said what really astounded me: “We don’t give to a person, or a church, or an organization. We shouldn’t see it that way. We give to God. And even if the people in charge make bad choices with the money, we are still blessed because we obeyed.”

Her words were exactly – nearly verbatim – what Andrew and I had been discussing just days earlier. It was wild, almost as if she had been listening in on us.

By the time we pulled into QT, I felt like I had a new friend. It was clear we were both encouraged by our encounter.

As I drove home, the Lord re-whispered something I’ve been hearing Him say for months:

Step into the Awkwardness

Don’t limit your ‘yes’ only to things you understand or think you can control. Be willing to follow me wherever I want to take you, even if you get a clumsy start. Even if you do it shaking. Even if you feel foolish.

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I’ll meet you there, in the awkwardness. Where you’re in over your head. Where you feel ill-equipped. When you can’t even figure out how to get on the interstate. I’ll come through for you. I’ll give you the words to say. My grace will empower you to go into uncharted territory.

Time and time again, I feel Him drawing me into the awkwardness. Into the unfamiliar. To situations I don’t have a grasp on. To new and, sometimes, strange places.  To answer the phone call.  To start the conversation.  To confront the issue.

And each time I follow Him there, I find gifts waiting on the other side of awkwardness. And the unexpected truth that my stumbling and fumbling can cause me to bump right into His goodness.

~

*Name changed

** Photo by Andy Rothwell

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