There are a lot of times, every day really, when we are faced with awkward situations.  Situations that maybe touch too close to home, that are too deep for us to handle at the moment, or that we just don’t care to get into with a certain person.  It can be running into an old flame whom you haven’t seen in years.  Making eye contact with an acquaintance as you’re both rushing toward the same door, asking how someone is doing when you’re not really available to hear what they have to say, and they say “fine, you?” and you respond with “good, thanks” and go about your day when you’ve really just been delivered devastating news, when they are in the middle of a family crisis, job loss, financial struggles, or any number of things.  It would do them good and yourself too, to open up to someone, to share joy, trials, pain, and it is in and through the awkwardness that the times of great joy and success can be shared and are that much sweeter with someone who knows where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.  It is being real and acknowledging someone’s hurt or pain, even when it is awkward and uncomfortable.  It is picking up the phone and calling back the person you just hung up with, because you feel a tugging on your heart that you know you didn’t say what you wanted to say and what they needed to hear.  And it’s calling them back, saying what you need to say, and hearing the sorrow in their voice, but you also hear relief…relief that they feel they aren’t alone; they aren’t carrying the burden all alone, even if you’ve never been in that situation and all you can say is that you are sorry and you are praying for them and thinking of them through it…it means the world to them.  I know this very well because I’ve been on both ends of this in the past few months.  I’ve been the one thinking “it’s too difficult to bring it up, I don’t want them to hurt even more by my bringing it up”…but really, I realized that the other person is already there…they are already in that place, it won’t hurt more by bringing it up, somehow, it hurts less.  I’ve also been the one to whom a friend has said, “hey, how are you doing?  And don’t say ‘fine’ because I know you’re not.”  The truth and reality are difficult things.  They are also real things.  Things we all struggle with.  And God wants us to have a band of brothers and a band of sisters to encourage us and love us and lift us up when we need it most, and again, the sweetest part of that is when the good times and the joy comes…people can’t really celebrate and experience all that God has blessed us with until we let them know where and what He has brought us through.  (1 Thessalonians 5 comes to mind, along with Hebrews 10:25 and Galatians 6:2)

I write this post because people are going through stuff, the real stuff, all around us in our every day life and within our families and amongst our friends.  And how can we be there for them?  How can we be open and real enough with ourselves that we say the tough things that need to be acknowledged in awkward situations?  For me, I have to focus on something else, something bigger in order to realize (what I mentioned in my last post) that it’s not all about me, and that there’s a bigger purpose out there and then everything gets put into perspective for me.  That our life is “but a small parenthesis in eternity” (Sir Thomas Browne).  We were meant for more than just scratching the surface.  In The Purpose Driven Life, Day 4 discusses how we are made to last forever and “when you fully comprehend that there is more to life than just here and now, and you realize that life is just preparation for eternity, you will begin to live differently.  You will start living the the light of eternity, and that will color how you handle every relationship, task, and circumstance.  Suddenly many activities, goals, and even problems that seemed important will appear trivial, petty, and unworthy of your attention.  The closer you live to God, the smaller everything else appears.”  It’s so true, isn’t it?  That our God is so awesome and His love for us so overwhelming; the mere thought of an everlasting eternity experiencing fellowship with Him and praising Him makes everything else pale in comparison.  You do start to see things a little differently.  Probably a LOT differently.  During the times you are closest to God, again at least in my case, the awkward times become easier, you can see them for what they are, not allowing them to overwhelm you or your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Praying through them in different ways and allowing your faith to be refined and amazingly the growing pains are a little more dull, not so sharp and piercing.

Father You are faithful. You are great and all-knowing.  You are peace and strength.  You are true love and protection.  Lord, I can be so self-centered.  So selfish.  So focused on today, tomorrow, next week, rather than eternity.  I get so comfortable that I don’t want to share what I’m going through and I’m not open to hearing from others and helping them struggle because I know there’s nothing good to say or I can’t relate.  But I know you can.  For nothing in this life is an accident, just as “You are our Creator.  We were in Your care even before we were born” (Isaiah 44:2a).  You’ve got this thing all under control and I easily forget that all the time.  Thank You for Your faithfulness.  For Your sovereignty and provisions in my life and in the lives of my precious family and friends.  Father, help me to remember your faithful promises and to seek after you in every moment of every day.  Help me to live with an eternal focus rather than a comfort focus so that I may be effective for Your Kingdom and Your purpose and plan, rather than my own.

Warren, Rick.  The Purpose Driven Life.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002.