Stand in the Awkward
We validate our neighbor’s worth when we’re willing to stay with them in awkward situations regardless of our discomfort. The story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well at a time when Jews and Samaritans didn’t interact shows us that our desire to love our neighbors must supersede our desire to protect what is easy.
What are we afraid of in awkward situations? Perhaps looking foolish (that’s awkward in an external way), or perhaps facing our own privilege in contrast to our neighbors’ (a discomfort of the conscience). Either way, the intentional choice to stay takes several types of courage:
Courage to question. This could be a questioning of systems, status quo, authority, and decisions. Or it could be questions put to our neighbors that may challenge our own comfort because the answers require us to change in some way.
Courage to be honest. We may need to be honest with ourselves about what we’ve intentionally and unintentionally done that may have impacted our neighbors. This can hurt or make us feel vulnerable. But God already knows it all.
Courage to admit we are wrong. We must be willing to admit where we are wrong, where we simply have held to incorrect facts, clung to false assumptions, and defended untruth. Humility gets us every time.
Courage to disagree. Are we willing to be in that awkward place after we’ve listened and find we disagree with our neighbors? Being in relationship doesn’t mean agreement. We can openly or privately disagree. But it’s okay to be with people who believe, live, and choose differently than we do. Jesus did it a lot.
Courage to act. A hug. A note. A committee. A phone call to a legislator. Action can take many forms. If after asking questions and listening, we hear God’s whisper or feel the Holy Spirit nudge us toward an action on our neighbor’s behalf, it behooves us to obey.
Once we’ve chosen courage, we can be intentional about walking into situations we know will be difficult. If we’ve determined to act with courage and embraced the idea of standing in the awkward, we can walk into those circumstances knowing our presence is sometimes our best offering.
When have you felt awkward when interacting with your neighbors? Where do you see possibilities in potentially awkward situations?