Have you ever had an awkward moment where you’ve tried to hug someone or something?
Like where one of you goes in for a high-five and the other person goes for a hug?
Or in the “side-hug” world there’s an endless amount of awkward interactions as you try to read where someone is going to lean in. If you’re like me, you inevitably move your head the opposite direction and miss the hug entirely or clash heads 😁.
I’ve been known to give awkward hugs! Growing up, my mom’s side of the family joked about my hugs and all imitated the “Bailey hug” where it wasn’t a full on embrace and I patted their back.
Despite my awkwardness at times, I do love hugging people and affirming them via physical touch.
When you have an awkward moment with someone particularly over a physical interaction, it’s hard to rebound out of that awkward state.
Particularly when hands are accidentally hitting the wrong places and…eeeeek!
I have a friend who when I first met them I thought that this person was the definition of awkward.
It seemed like everything they did was to create an awkward scenario or to make others feel awkward. They were successful!
Before we became friends, I’d been introduced to them a few times and I once heard them speak in front of a group of people. They opened their speech with,”Wow! This looked a lot different in my bathroom mirror…” Everyone who knew this individual laughed since it was funny he had been rehearsing in the bathroom mirror prior to this engagement. Meanwhile I was thinking, “What?! Why would you say that at the beginning of an important speech??! Aaaaaawkward!”
The following day I met this person and they were actually going to my favorite country, Kenya, for a mission trip. We bonded over that and began a friendship. We would both later be in a close young adult community group and attend the same church. I love this person today and their family and I find their humor amusing now and no longer misunderstand the hilarity of the awkwardness.
As I was thinking about the idea of awkward interactions and laughing at past social blunders I’ve made, I began thinking about how many people have had awkward representations of God in their lives.
Many have encountered God exclusively through people being awkward or not realizing they were making a poor representation of Jesus.
Maybe they’ve experienced someone full of JOY and delight in the Lord, but as my friend I mentioned above, to others it comes across fake or insincere.
There are certain aspects of Jesus that explained in a way that is unattached to the deep love He showed on the cross, can come across strange. Outside of a relationship with Him, His ways often feel like a list of rules and a path that leads to unhappiness.
When we have an awkward interaction with someone, we often avoid them the next time that we see them or at least approach them hesitantly.
I wonder how many people have had an unpleasant experience with individuals claiming to follow Christ and were left with a bitter taste in their mouths that keeps them from seeking Him further?
I wonder how many people attended church or were once committed to Christ, but because of the hurts caused by other believers they have since left Jesus behind associated with the faults and follies of others?
I wonder how many people have had a brief touch of intimacy, or of closeness with Jesus, but it felt awkward and like they didn’t know what to do with that intimacy. Maybe it’s like the hug scenario going wrong when it felt awkward and prevented them from seeking vulnerability with Him again…
When we get close to Jesus, to Him alone, not what our Pastor has said or what others say to us about Him, there is a real transparency that takes places. And let me be honest it’s awkward.
It’s awkward because my flesh desires its sinful nature and getting its own way.
I’m used to being self-justified and defensive of what I want, believe and desire.
In my sinful state, I’m not used to being transparent, “naked”, if you will before the living God who gave His life for me.
How could I ever be worthy to look upon the One who took my sins?
How could I ever learn to “lean into Him” properly and not bump my head?
He is perfect. And I…I’m just me.
Yet I’ve found that in the acceptance of His work on the cross, there is His grace.
There is a redemption for all of my sins and short comings. There is healing for all of the wrong mindsets and beliefs I’ve had about myself, about Him, and about others.
In His embrace I actually don’t find unrest. I find peace for my weary soul and empowerment in my spirit to be near to Him.
What if I’d turned away from seeking Him because of one uncomfortable encounter? What if I had just partially opened my heart and partially surrendered my life to Him?
I know it would be an even greater loss than not giving my “awkward” friend a second chance.
Yet what feels so much safer is to stay closed and to retreat not making myself vulnerable. It feels awkward to open up my heart, expose the real me and ask the living God to search me.
However, the only things that are truly awkward is when I am attached to and find identity in that which was meant to destroy me–my sin.
I wasn’t made to serve my flesh and the lusts of it.
I was made to serve Jesus Christ and to worship Him freely with a surrendered heart.
Don’t believe the lies that you’re meant to embrace shame, guilt, or rejection.
Don’t shy away from opening your heart to the One who created you in His image.
You were meant both to feel safe in His love as well as to reflect His love.
I just want to encourage you to push past the awkward feelings of surrender and vulnerability with Jesus.
Even if you lean in the wrong way once or twice or feel like you’re doing it wrong, Jesus doesn’t shy away.
He’s there with open arms ready to extend His love time and time again…