Thoughts: Awkward Is the New Black

My heart likes to make weird, awkward tugs when Jesus inaudibly speaks to me, this one said, “Why don’t you act like that?”

Today was an interesting day.  Most times, Christ teaches me about himself through people and through the things that they do.  I’m really, really good at observation.  I have many thoughts on many different subjects brought on by many different stimuli.  There were several stimuli today.

My grandmother is a wonderfully obnoxious, lovely worrier who will literally kill you with kindness.  I don’t think there’s been a day in my life where my grandmother hasn’t called me more than twice.  She is forever in her head and forever in everyone else’s business.  Yes, it’s obnoxious, and yes, most days I get incredibly pissed off by her constant barrage of questions and nagging, but Christ always seems to find a way to teach me a lesson through it.

Today, I took my grandmother to KU Burn Ward at KU Medical Center in Kansas City.  A while back she decided to grab a pan that was engulfed in flames and get 3rd degree burns on most of her right hand.  Her right hand being her dominant hand, she has been unable to do most things for herself.  While driving up to KU, dear, sweet Ethel rambled on and on about whatever popped into her mind.  It’s hard to keep a conversation with her because she burns through topics very quickly, or gets tired of talking about one subject and moves onto the next without warning.  I’m not proud to admit that most times I just get irrationally angry at my grandmother for this and my reaction was to turn up my new Dance Gavin Dance album and listen to that instead.  But, willing to do anything to have my attention, my grandmother just started tapping her foot to the beat and headbanging along with me, asking questions about the band and why I liked them.  Not in a million years will you find a 70+ year-old woman who will willingly bang their head to a song titled “Shark Dad“.

When we arrived at KU, it was actually a pretty short visit.  All they had to do was clean the burn and remove any dead skin that may be impeding healing.  While I was sitting in the waiting room, listening to Steve Harvey hosting The Family Feud and reading Bob Goff’s Love Does, there was another man with his grandmother, only he was the one with the burnt hand.  Their relationship reminded me a lot of mine and my grandmother’s.  As I watched her awkwardly comb his hair and try and plan out his day with a barrage of prying questions, I couldn’t help but make an awkward face and think, “What the hell is this lady’s deal?”  Not surprisingly, the man got quite cross with his grandmother and demanded that she quit asking him questions and leave him alone (She didn’t stop).

The man was called back by a hearty, smiling black man and the woman sweetly asked if she could come back there.  He replied with a sure and a grin.  “Hold on just a moment.” She had been counting some change, for what, I have no clue.  “I’m incredibly sorry, I was counting some change for the parking toll.  I spent all of my money on gas to get up here.”  Without hesitation, the man pulled a money clip out of his pocket and handed her $3.  “That should cover the fee.”  He said with a smile.

I didn’t get to hear how the rest of the conversation went down, as my grandmother and myself were exiting the waiting room on our way back to the car.  But where the conversation between the hearty male nurse and this overbearing grandmother ended, my conversation with Christ began.

My heart likes to make weird, awkward tugs when Jesus inaudibly speaks to me, this one said, “Why don’t you act like that?”  I was kind of taken aback by the question.  My instant reaction was to get defensive, but I had to push that back.  The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why I wasn’t like that.  I was reading an entire book on how love is an action and yet I was thrown by the man’s kindness.  I felt terrible because I should be treating my grandmother like that.  I treated my grandmother like she was a nuisance, and even though this man knew this woman was a nuisance, he still offered a gesture of love.  After that, I was very obliged to take my grandmother to dinner, and we listened to She & Him on the way home because she loves Zooey Deshanel.

Bob Goff really spoke to me in one of his chapters as well.  He said he didn’t go to bible studies.  I thought this was odd, but he expanded on that and said he met with a group of guys, they read scripture, and then they either went out and did something about it right then to show the love of Jesus, or they made some sort of plan as to how they could act on what they had spoke about.  He was very much about being with people rather than gathering information.  I thought about this quite a bit and even had a vivid dream about several people in my life.  It’s really easy for me to just get the latest information on people and then claim that I am involved in their life.  It’s easier that way, it hurts less, to be honest.  Being with people rather than just knowing them is messy, it’s awkward, it’s very real.

When I woke up, I started preparing for my day and turned on “Awkward” by Dance Gavin Dance, where the tag is literally, “Don’t make this awkward”.  It reminded me that I should just be human, yes, that is awkward, but I don’t have to make it that way.  After I got done brushing my teeth and trying to get my facial bed-head to lay down, I went into my kitchen and talked with my roommates.  It was nice to have this new perspective.  I felt like I didn’t have any agenda in talking with them and I could simply just laugh and talk and be happy.  When I put on my jacket and made for the door for work, I realized that one of my other friends was sitting on the couch in the living room.  It’s someone I don’t see very often that I wish I did, but more often than not, I make my interactions with them awkward with small talk that doesn’t matter (which I absolutely hate, so I have no clue why I do it).  Today was different, I really enjoyed getting to see that person and I was able to combat my instinct to be awkward and removed.  I wish I didn’t have that sort of reaction to this person because they have an absolutely lovely heart, but I’m glad that today, Christ pushed me through a reaction and pushed me into being an actual human.

I’m really starting to understand what Christ meant when he spoke through his apostle saying, “Put off the old man and put on the new.”  or when he said, “To truly live, you must die to yourself.”  I thought I already pretty much had those in the bag, because I had studied them.  It turns out, I really suck at living things out.  I can memorize and regurgitate, but I can’t put things into action.  Yahweh is forcing me into a lot of uncomfortable and counter-cultural things lately and it’s very scary, but I’m also incredibly stoked about it because through all the adversity and fear, I am finally getting my faith to go deeper rather than wider.  Jesus is getting more and more tangible with each step.  I feel like I still screw up just as much as always, but now, I can move past it.  Love is difficult, it hurts, it’s messy, it’s awkward.  But just remember, “Don’t make this awkward,” accept it and live.

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