Tonight, as my husband and I drove home, we were stopped at an intersection. Across the intersection in front of us, a scene unfolded. An obviously handicapped and homeless man in a wheelchair, was inching himself forward in the crosswalk painstakingly slow. One foot in front of the other, body bent forward, pulling his wheelchair with his rump. Out of nowhere, a man from a parking lot runs over and gets behind the man and wheels him out of traffic before the light changed. This man got him to safety and then nodded and proceeded to get in his truck and leave. These are the moments in life that renew my hope in people.
Most of you know the word hangry. It’s grown popular and is used quite often to describe a state of being past hungry, where you actually feel nauseated, irritable and angry. Hunger anger= Hangry.
Yesterday I drug my tired rump out of bed, to go hike one of my favorite mountains. In Phoenix, we are reaching temps in the 100’s and if you don’t want to become a charred pile of ashes, you have to either go early or sometime after sunset. As I hike, I typically try to make a conscious effort to make eye contact with those I pass and say hi, and at the very least smile. I honestly don’t understand people with earbuds in who refuse to make eye contact. I mean…I get that we are all dying for oxygen and dragging ourselves up a mountain or down one, but… I just get surprised at the amount of souls in close proximity, and their lack of interaction. It reminds me of when I took my sister to the doctor a month or so ago. We got in a packed elevator to an 8 story building. In that moment, I was struck by the hilarious awkwardness of our close quarters and complete lack of speaking. I said, “Haha…welcome to your box of strangers.” No one laughed. Not even a peep. My sister and I side glanced at each other with uber awkward smiles as we listened to only crickets…all the way up to the 4th floor. I mean…who doesn’t think that is funny? We are packed in like sardines and no one is speaking. It’s almost like everyone ignores the fact that we are close enough we can smell each others breath! We are uncomfortably close and invading each others personal space bubbles, and we are pretending we don’t see or hear each other. I was trying to break the tension with some humor, and instead I did what I succeed best at in life…making a situation MORE awkward.
I have a personal gift. I try not to brag about it too much, but I am absolutely fantastic at awkwardness. Like unbelievably proficient. If you want someone to accidentally embarrass themselves to ensure eyes will be off you, I AM your girl. Unfortunately I can’t perform this magic on command. It has to sneak up on me.
The first time I talked to my children’s elementary school principal, I thought she was so super smiley. I walked away from the conversation to my car and that was when one of my kids told me that I had something in my teeth. The Mc Donalds yogurt parfait I had hoovered on my way to get my kids, had left a souvenir. A whole blueberry skin on my front tooth. Guys it looked like the tooth was missing when I smiled. Mortified. Oh Oh…and lets not forget how when I was 13, I was tasked with entertaining my 2 year old brother so my mom could be in and help my aunts bridal party. I walked laps around a huge catholic church with my brother on my hip. My soon to be uncle and his 7 or so groomsmen, were taking pictures outside. This new uncle was cool you guys…like I wanted to impress him. I wanted him to think I was gonna be a great niece. So when he motioned me over to him while I held my brother on my hip, I was excited to see what this new uncle had to say to me. I excitedly leaned in and he said, “Amy, your brother’s velcro is stuck on your dress and it’s tucked up above your butt.” This is a moment when a tiny piece of me died and never came back. Thankfully I think it was a little hunk of pride, to which most of this pride fell away as I performed more epically awkward stunts while I matured. Oh and let’s not fail to mention what I did just yesterday. I was in Fry’s grocery store grabbing a few things. When I got my cart, I forgot to put up that little plastic flap that a kid can sit on if they are riding in the upper seat section. Not noticing the leg holes were still open, I stuck a carton of chicken noodle soup in that top section. As I pushed the cart forward, it slid out the open leg hole and promptly exploded so huge that when it hit the floor, broth splattered me in the cheek, nose, and forehead. I think it hit an elderly man in the ankle. He was in the general splatter zone, so it’s probably safe to assume that was the reason he looked at me with some general disdain. Smooth. Real smooth. I actually started laughing at how totally stupid I was, and I had to flag down the deli guy, to let him know I had set off a soup grenade. I had to let them know before some poor person did the splits in noodles and broth. Awkward is my specialty, and yes I even do party’s.
I could keep telling you mortifying stories about my awkwardness…but lets not drown in them all at once. The point I’m trying to make here, is that I often find myself in situations where putting myself out there, has backfired. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a store and accidentally said hi, to someone I thought was saying hi to me, only to realize they were talking on their blue tooth. I’ve waved to people who are waving to someone else.
I hate those embarrassing moments, but I think I’d hate it worse if I saw myself through someone else eyes and I never tried to reach out.
Anyways…as I hiked, I prayed as usual. I have conversations with God during my hikes. I was praying for many things, but my thoughts trailed to all of these unhappy people and our lack of connection. This started an avalanche of thoughts about the magnitude of lost souls. The shattered hearts of so many souls who haven’t found a God who loves them. The effect on society is immense. It is the nucleus of the problem. This lack is what fuels such an immense spiritual hunger, that leaves many angry. Hangry for the food for the soul. It’s why there are a billion self help books, all offering different ways to happiness…when all we really need is the scriptures.
It’s so sad how as lost human beings, we instinctually turn to the worlds empty comforts. We turn to food, money, toys, alcohol, sex, drugs…and so rarely to God. Our very soul knows something vital is missing, but our mind tries to numb it away. It’s like being completely depleted in vitamin D. The body feels the deep lack of something, and you take vitamins…but until you get into the light of the sun, your body will never be able to truly recognize and absorb what it needs. God’s light has a way of clarifying things so well. So many could heal if they would step into the light.
This is where we have to stop fearing being awkward. Trust me, I have lived through it so many times. Awkward doesn’t kill you…not even when a little piece of you dies. Trust me, or I have like 1000 lives. Awkward isn’t the worst thing to ever happen. I think the worst thing to happen, is being surrounded by numerous volumes of people who do not know there is a God who loves them. We have such a responsibility to be the light, and love is that light. Be the awkward stranger that reaches out. Don’t be afraid to make a connection with a stranger.
I have had this phrase from a song stuck in my head for over a week. “There isn’t any fear here, there isn’t any fear in love.” I looked up the song to find it so I could listen to the whole thing. Here it is, if you’d like to listen to it. It’s by Lauren Daigle, who is among my top 3 favorite artists of all time.
How can we ever share this beautiful joy, if we constantly go through life with our earbuds in and our eyes cast down? When we make a connection with another human being, it opens a door to communication. We get to share the reason behind our joy and we get to share the reason we have hope. We build these relationships, that can turn out being the most precious ones in our lives.
When we accept our responsibility and commit our life to God, we accept that we are not here for us. We are here for God. We do His work and we do it His way. So many times when I feel burned out and I feel like I’m not getting what I need spiritually, it turns out that I’m not doing enough work for God. I have started living for myself and not for Him. The irony is that the more I try to fill myself with things that should make me happy, the less satisfied I actually feel. What I need, is to feast on soul food, and work my service for God muscle much harder.
We hear all the time that we deserve to be happy. Brace yourselves…you aren’t going to like what I’m about to say. Happy is not what you want. Happy is not satisfying. Happy is temporary, fleeting, continuously sought after and never satisfied. Happy may last for a few moments, but fizzles away with changing circumstances. Joy is what you want. Joy can last a lifetime. Joy is eternal. Joy from God and from unity with Him, can carry us through the deepest sadness and grief. It can keep us afloat in the largest losses and hurt. It can do this, because we know that everything in this life is temporary. What matters, is the eternal. Joy comes from a knowledge that what we fight for, strive for, and work for… is God, and HE is worth it. His plan is eternal, and the work you put in for God, will never pass away, because we work to gain souls.
Feeling useful, feeling joy and feeling satisfaction, will only come when I live less for myself and more for Him. I worry less about what I think I need, and I turn my eyes outward in search of what others need. Then I get to work. What can I do for the souls around me? What can I do for the souls I come into contact with on an elevator, on a mountain, or on the highway? How can I help feed their souls? When I start refocusing this way, I have more peace and I feel closer to God and closer to the purpose I was created for. His purpose.
Mathew 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Though I don’t recommend talking with blueberry skin on your teeth, or walking around with your dress in your pantyhose, or causing a chicken noodle soup disaster, I do still recommend risking the awkward. Smile at strangers, let people over on the highway (preaching to myself here), and help someone in need. Not once…every single time we can. Let the souls around you know that you value them. If we can’t do this with the souls God stacked closely around us, how can we do it for the lost stranger out there?
Every week I pray about these blog posts. I don’t put myself on a blog schedule, because I learned long ago that I can’t put God on a schedule. I have to work on His. I was kind of stuck. I just couldn’t get my thoughts organized into what I was feeling until tonight. I had begun writing, but was praying for God’s direction to help me put it all together. I then got to witness the homeless man being helped by a stranger. Then while I was looking for the scripture of 1st John 20, I read the whole chapter and saw the 1st John 4:18 scripture I have been humming and singing to myself for over a week. It was then that I understood the message.
I know that these posts are for me too. I am learning. It feels like a gift for me every time. I feel thankful and eager for each one to unfold, and it helps my perspective.
1st John 4:16-21
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
I will celebrate my birthday tomorrow. I’m thankful for every single day of my life. I’m thankful for what they have taught me and I’m even thankful for the awkward moments…well about 80% of them. About 20% of them, I hope are never spoken of again, but I learned from them so that’s positive. I am thanking God for the opportunities I’ve been given, and praying to Him, to help me recognize the ones to come. God bless you guys! Go eat some soul food.