We'd rather be safe and comfortable than really live and love.
How often do older generations say the word “awkward?” Not that often, right? Okay, how often do Millenials say the word “awkward?” All the time.
Why do we find more things in life "awkward?"
Maybe part of the explanation has to do with alienation and community breaking down. We live surrounded by lifeless stuff and live less and less in the context of nature and human beings. People may be in the background, but rarely do we dwell with others. As a result, we are used to a sterile way of living that lacks intimacy and vulnerability. We control our lives and are used to keeping things (people most of all) at a distance. We do whatever we can to keep life comfortable. We aren’t used to moments when the depth and heart of things crash into us, lift us out of our comfort zone and call us to see or be seen, to know or be known.
We often escape these moments and dismiss them by saying, “This is awkward.”
But if we didn’t live so cut off from the natural, we might look around and realize that life is messy! Think about it – what in nature isn’t messy? What about human beings, really, isn’t messy? Why would we expect daily life to be any different? But devoid of dwelling with the natural (people included), we receive a poor education on what life (i.e. reality) is like.
Doesn’t this sound like the devil at work? Look at this list of what our hypersensitivity to “awkward” gives us:
1. We live with the fear of seeing others for who they are and of being seen for who we are.
2. We have a slackened ability to take risks and be brave.
3. We slink back into an interiorly isolated way of living.
4. We have trouble seeing the way things really are.
Fear, cowardice, isolation, illusion and blindness. In sum – hiding in the dark. Yep, sounds like him.
Perhaps the worst part of our fear of "awkward" is that we run from opportunities to love. Such opportunities are rarely ever clean-cut, smooth and riskless. Movies brainwash us into thinking that that is how love happens. No, opportunities to love are messy. They call something out of us that lies behind the counter of our I’m-hunky-dory-just-going-through-my-day face.
These moments demand that we not hide in the dark. Those are the times the veil is pulled back and we are challenged to really be a person, not just some male or female cog in a machine. Those are the times two souls touch – and we can feel it happening. These are the greatest moments in life! Here we can see just for a second “what is the breadth and length and height and depth… that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:18-19).
But now our generation calls those moments "awkward." Meticulously competent in many technologies, yet we are caged up with malnourished hearts, atrophied love and a general discomfort with ourselves. Why? Because we are scared. Afraid of "awkward," we don’t let ourselves become who we are meant to be!
If for no other reason, we shouldn’t let "awkward" dictate our actions because it makes us run and hide.
It’s time to revolt. It’s time to stop running and hiding. We need to break out of this spirit of the world. We serve a King; His Kingdom is love; and His mission is won through a vast majority of moments our era would call "awkward." So be it! Bring it on! We need to stop listening to the enemy who tells us that this mission “is just too darn uncomfortable and risky, right?” Let yourselves be seen. Make yourself vulnerable, open to rejection and risking the uncomfortable. The King will never forget the courage you showed, the risks you took or the willingness to be a fool for Him.
A challenge: this week there will be a moment to love and bless someone that will require you to do something kind of messy, which could be described as potentially awkward. Don’t let "awkward" win. Don’t run and hide. Live in the mess. Chose to love instead.
Besides, it’s really fun.
Joey McCoyis a medical student at the University of Michigan. He enjoys hot water, Josef Pieper, and anything pertaining to the New Evangelization. This article originally appeared on i.d.9:16, a website of a "community of missionary disciples" and is reprinted here with permission.