Don’t Avoid the Awkwardness…

 

I have been thinking a lot lately about awkwardness.

I watch people of all ages actively avoid situations they feel awkward in or aren’t sure how to engage in, and allow their uncertainty to hinder them.

I have started to realize that it seems that often we avoid things that put us in an awkward situation or scenario that we don’t know what to do… So, instead of viewing it as a hard thing we must step into, we avoid.

For example:

  • We get on our phones while we wait for coffee or food.
  • While waiting for a friend to arrive, phones are often our go-to awkwardness avoidance device. (I’m totally raising my hand as a guilty party)
  • The guy won’t ask the attractive, funny woman he is maybe interested in out for coffee.
  • Someone is struggling, but we don’t send them words of encouragement.
  • Even if someone doesn’t “need” help, but it would be nice, we don’t offer just to be kind or make it easier for them.
  • How about just eye contact and good morning?
  • What about a simple hello and asking the cashier how they are doing before you start literally issuing an order at them?

I have started making it a practice of my will to putt my phone away, or leave it in my pocket on purpose when I am out in public or waiting for something. – You know what I have discovered? I will reach for it about every 2 minutes.

So, my coping mechanism is that I have started just checking the time and putting it back away to slowly break myself of this habit.

What I find funny is, when I am at home or at work, I will walk away from my phone and leave it somewhere for hours at a time… When I am hanging out and talking with my friends; good luck getting me to respond to a text quickly…

Why the gap between compulsively checking every 2 minutes and going hours without it even on my body? – My ability to walk away from my phone for hours at a time shows that my struggle is not addiction related but rather situational awkwardness related.

On the flip side, I have been mulling over this idea that as a believer, a follower of Christ, how am I communicating that I love or even just slightly care about them if I never even acknowledge they are there?

“They will know us by our love.”

They won’t because we avoid awkwardness and uncertainty as a preservation and anxiety reducing strategy.

Awesome. So, will they know us by our eye contact and hello at least?
How am I supposed to show love or mild interest for someone else if I seek to reduce my own awkwardness and anxiety first?

In Romans it says that we are to “Practice Hospitality”. – I write more about my thoughts on that here and here.

But, there is a theory that if you want to become an expert or master at something, you must put in 10,000 hours of practice.

Have you spent 10,000 hours on any character discipline at all; let alone hospitality?

  • Have you gone above and beyond trying to hone your skills of engaging well with strangers?
  • Do you work at acknowledging and seeing people in any situation.. forget about “loving them well,” how about even just showing that you see them and they matter?
  • Are you trying to get better at speaking encouragement to those you encounter?

What if you fail?

Are you getting up and starting over? Learn from your mistake, evaluate how you can do better moving forward. It is simple, but does not feel great.

Challenge:

  1. Step into awkwardness this week. Dig down deep inside of you, and decide that today you will do one thing differently.
  2. Decide to willingly be in an uncertain situation and practice handling it with grace and patience.
  3. Choose to talk to the person standing closest to you when in a moment of waiting for coffee, an elevator, your food, the metro.

Tips:
Here are a few self-development tips and topics to help you grow yourself.

Ask two questions of someone, and wait to hear the answer.

If you notice someone showing signs of emotion (joy, anxiety, frustration etc..) Ask them about it…
“You seem pretty upset, are you having a frustrating day?” – Wait for an answer and then offer a real word of encouragement: “I’m sorry, that’s so frustrating! Would you allow me to buy you a cup of coffee or tea to improve your day?”

A few examples of putting a simple spin on normal questions: 

  1. How is your day going?
  2. What do you do for work? – Do you love what you do?
  3. Are you doing what you dreamed of as a kid/teen?
  4. Your style game is spot on today! Where did you get ____ (jewelry or clothing that you particularly like)?
  5. What’s your favorite thing to do/order here? (Depending on if you’re at a restaurant or just in public)

Practicing Hospitality..

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Showing Hospitality for me often takes the form of sharing food with others.

I have half a dozen blog posts that are half written and not yet posted, full of ideas, thoughts, and things I am working through deep down. But, today, as I love my Monday routine (I’m convinced I’m the only person who loves Mondays), I am mulling over “Practice Hospitality” from Romans 12:13.

I have been contemplating the idea of how so much of my life revolves around practicing hospitality. Learning to get good at it, adjust it, improve weaknesses, and identifying the type of hospitality that each person needs.

My job entirely revolves around this idea of practicing to get good at hospitality, and then helping to lead an entire community towards being good at it as well.

Today I am mulling over the order and process of how passages are put together. I find it fascinating is the types of things put together in scripture… Why are these things linked? What is the importance behind why they are listed like they are?

For example, practicing hospitality is listed like this:

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly:
if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

if service, in his serving;
or he who teaches, in his teaching;

or he who exhorts, in his exhortation;
he who gives, with liberality;
he who leads, with diligence;
he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without hypocrisy.
Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give preference to one another in honor;

not lagging behind in diligence,
fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord;

rejoicing in hope,
persevering in tribulation,
devoted to prayer,

contributing to the needs of the saints,
practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another;
do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.
Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.
Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

I do not think it is happenstance that “practicing hospitality” falls in the middle of this, serving as a transition point. The first half of this seems to be talking to believers, for believers, and how to operate with other believers… But, then after practicing hospitality there’s a pretty clear shift in the conversation.

The second half of this depicts life: The good and bad, the ugly, hard, gritty, un-fun, and difficulty of being in real relationships with people. And then, it ends a few verses later with: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

There are three main points that stand out to me in this passage that seem to be what hinges on overcoming evil with good:

Let love be without hypocrisy
practicing hospitality.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

I think the reason I love these, and see them as anchors within this passage is because they point to real relationships. The beauty and struggle, the intentionality, and how authentic relationships are supposed to look.

Let’s be real: Life. Is. Hard.

But, life is easier if we love well, practice hospitality towards one another, rejoice and celebrate, and weep with those around us.

Life becomes less hard, less sucky, and more tolerable, enjoyable, and fulfilling when we travel it together.

We want real relationships, hard conversations, people who make us grow and allow us to fail miserably. There’s nothing quite like deep meaningful relationships to boost our spirits. Life feels a bit more manageable when we enjoy dinners, laughter, and silence with people who extend us grace and mercy throughout hard seasons because it creates a safe place for us to heal from wounds of our past. – Whether they are of our own doing, or at no fault of ours.

Life is hard, but practicing hospitality is important for everyone to learn how to do well; it is a skill that needs cultivation. Each person has their own flavor of hospitality, but most do a poor job of trying to hone their own style of hospitality to convey love without hypocrisy, rejoicing with those that are rejoicing and weeping with those that are weeping.

We must all get better at hospitality.

True, authentic, welcome to the real life of me, type of hospitality; not the fake Pinterest, better homes and gardens, Martha Stewart style hospitality.

The thing I love about this passage in Romans is it also prevents selfishness. Loving without hypocrisy, practicing hospitality, rejoicing with those that rejoice, and weeping with those who weep etc..etc.. prevent us from focusing on ourselves. – We must focus on others.

Life and community suck less when we are focused on others. We stop feeling alone when we enter into the ups and downs of the life of those around us.

People find hope and a place to learn how to be healthy if we live like this passage in Romans calls us to fulfill.

I love that my job requires me to be intentional about understanding hospitality, learning about it, and then creating space to practice it both professionally and personally.

How do you practice hospitality?

What does that look like for you?

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More often than not, hospitality and loving well looks like me freely giving my time and sharing food or drinks with someone!