One of the lessons I'm learning in these first few years of church planting, . . . is that our culture is allergic to hard, awkward, or messy situations. I know, groundbreaking, right?
Of course, no one LIKES situations such as those, but the lengths that people will go to to avoid such situations is amazing to me.
In the church, this is really interesting, because now I realize the amount of energy that established, programmatic churches put into making people feel non-awkward or non-messy. We, in the church, have tried so hard to put people's fears at ease, make every situation as easy as possible, and tamp down hard conversations, or hard situations. If something is awkward, something must be wrong, we think. As a young, small, growing church there are very few situations that we have to offer that aren't hard or awkward :) so this phenomena has crystalized for me, lately.
The first response I would have is thanksgiving for all those awkward souls, who are sticking with hard, messy things. I'm so grateful to run with some people who aren't distracted by the inevitable awkwardness of a church plant, but are excited about what God is doing, and can see "what will be" instead of just "what is". So, Thank you! (I join you in awkwardness)
The other thing I would say, is that we, in America. . . .really need to get over our obsession with awkwardness. We really need to get ok with awkward silence. We need to get ok with interruptions. We need to talk to people who aren't like us. We need to be uncomfortable. We need to deal with some losses. We need some people to be upset with us. We need to warmly embrace that we are not everyone's favorite person. We need to hold a crying baby. We need to accept situations in our life that we cannot "solve".
The fact that we think we shouldn't have to deal with these things, says a lot about us and where our priorities lie.
Now, I've spoken quite directly for a few minutes and may have hurt some feelings. . . . so let me switch gears and offer us all some hope and comfort in the midst of messiness and awkwardness.
Jesus, entered a world he was not from, grew up with a mom whom He was wiser than. He dealt with people who didn't understand him. He spoke directly and offensively (in their minds) to those who needed a rebuke. He touched tenderly those who were dirty with disease, infection, and handicap. He embraced them. He held children on his lap. He was patient with the persistent ignorance of his closest friends as to his own identity. He kept silent while he was insulted. He gave his friend charge of his own mother during his painful death. He sat by, worked with, spoke to, and gave his money to . . . for three years . . .. . . .the one who would betray him to his death. And He KNEW it was going to happen all along.
Jesus knew awkwardness. Should we expect better?
Jesus bore all of our sin on the tree, and lived a life full of hard, messy, awkward situations so that in our situations which mirror his own. . . . we would feel his acceptance of us. We should feel his joy in us. We should feel his sustaining power (He holds all things together). We should ask for his peace in our anxiety. He will give it. We should know deeply that our present messiness cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us.
So, . . . . hard thing to walk into today? difficult conversation to have? weary of the journey?
Come to Jesus. He cares, He knows, and He will sustain you through it. He will probably bless you and mature you through it as well. He put you in this situation for a reason. He knows.