I'm awkward. If you know me, chances are we've had some kind of awkward encounter at some stage. I want to assure you, just in case there was any doubt at all, it's not you, it's me. I'm just not awesome with people. Small talk, eye contact & hugging. All things that can literally make me break out in a cold sweat.
When I was a teenager I used to bribe my little sister to buy items from the local dairy for me because you know, having to talk to the girl at the counter was just SO terrifying. It was a nice little set-up for us both until she decided that she was enabling me & refused any more bribes. So I stopped buying stuff. People used to think I was her taller, better looking, younger sister, because in social situations, I would kind of linger behind & let her do all the talking. Awesome.
As I got older, I used to dread those moments when I was walking through the supermarket & glanced across the aisle to see someone I knew. 'Don't make eye contact, do not make eye contact . . . ' Suddenly the ingredients list on that can of red kidney beans became really fascinating. I've gone to church all my life & until recently found those before & after service times almost unbearable. And when they would say, 'Now, lets just break for a coupla minutes & take some time to greet the person next to you,' this was a weekly moment of horror for me. I'm not great with small talk.
'The awkward moment when someone says, 'Hello' and you say, 'Good thanks!' - anon.
Eye contact has been the bane of my existence. This is something I have worked incredibly hard to overcome with little success. And the more I try to establish strong eye contact, the more awkward it becomes. In the first place, it can be a huge effort for me just to meet someone's eye. I'm never sure how long is appropriate to maintain eye contact & then I don't know how to look away without appearing rude or disinterested. In the end, it gets to the point where I have absolutely no idea what the other person is talking about because I'm so uncomfortable and distracted by the whole eye contact dilemma. If they are great at making eye contact - well, that's even worse for me. Because if someone is looking at me intently while I talk, I start to feel very self-conscious and then the stuttering starts. My husband has got used to me stumbling through the same sentence 3 or 4 times before I ask him if we can just come back to it later. Yep, at times I'm awkward around him too. I used to have a phone phobia. I would avoid making phone calls at all costs & if I did have to make a phone call I would have to write down what I was going to say & then psych myself up just to dial the number. And I love the idea of Skype but having someone staring at my face for the entirety of the conversation is just too overwhelming to make it practical.
Even with my kids, I'm awkward. I know, that's pretty crazy right? Its mostly the eye contact thing. I'm standing there, trying to have a conversation with them, & they are staring at me all intently and . . . well . . . it makes me nervous. Sometimes when they're misbehaving, I have to reprimand them. There I am in the middle of a good telling off & they are standing there just staring, & I get all self-conscious and start stuttering or worse, giggle nervously. There goes the telling off, out the window. You can't take your mum seriously when she is awkwardly giggling or trying to stutter out a sentence. Sunny learned to anticipate what I was going to say & was able to finish my sentences for me, before he turned 2.
And the hugging. I have spent a great deal of time successfully evading prospective hugs by well-meaning relatives or friends over the years. ARGHH. SO. MUCH. AWKWARDNESS. A word of advice, unless you can commit to it 100%, just don't even go there! Unless you are one of those naturally 'huggy' people & can sweep me earnestly into your bosom, with wild abandon, just don't do it. Honestly, I will NOT get hurt feelings if you refrain. It's just not worth the discomfort that ensues for either party involved. & understand that I am actually doing you a favour by never imposing this on you & subjecting you to the awkwardness that is my spatially impaired self.
So, now that I've got that off my chest here's the thing. Mostly I'm ok with this. All of this. Even the dreaded small talk. I've got pretty good at not taking myself too seriously or walking away from a situation and thinking, 'God, that was awkward' and being able to have a laugh with Craig about it. But sometimes its not that cool. Sometimes I really want to engage with someone & the awkwardness that is myself makes that difficult. I miss opportunities because I want to avoid those unbearable feelings. The worst is when I can see that the way I interact with someone actually hinders us from connecting on a deeper level. I have a genuine desire to connect with people and when my 'social ineptitude' gets in the way, it is bloody frustrating! And sometimes I come away from situations like that wondering how God could ever use someone like me.
Which is where Moses comes in. So, here he is in Exodus 3 & 4 and he's been hanging out in the desert when God decides to reveal Himself in this epic moment through an apparently ever-burning bush. He reveals His plan to save His people from slavery and oppression and explains that He is going to use Moses to do it. Instead of being totally blown away & excited to take on this new role that God has personally set out for him, he starts on a bunch of excuses. Each time he comes up with an excuse God patiently explains how He will support Moses in this but I guess Moses is still kinda freaked out at the prospect of having to actually speak to his people & to Pharaoh. Because in chapter 4 vs 10 he says, 'Erm, I don't mean to be a bother . . . but I'm not really awesome at the whole speaking thing, now or ever for that matter. I'm not very good with words & I struggle to get them out & end up stuttering.' (ok, I'm paraphrasing). God got frustrated with Moses then, & said He'd send his brother Aaron along for support. Evidently God saw something in Moses that he couldn't see in himself. & maybe it wasn't ever really about Moses' talents anyway.
But that's something I love about the Bible & I love about God. All through the Bible we see these weak, imperfect people used by God to do awesome things. And that gives me hope because I think as hard as I try, I'm probably always going to be at least a little bit awkward.
1 Cor 1 vs 26-31 - Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential: not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise: God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written; ' Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'