For the umpteenth time, I prop my hand under my chin and stare out the window at the spectacular view. An autumn rainbow of bold colors fill up the space of my picture window: scarlet and rusty reds, golden yellows, pumpkin oranges mixed with holding-on greens. A few leaves gracefully teeter totter to the ground, but most still hug the tree.
It’s unpolished, perfect beauty.
And as I prepare for a blogging/writing conference that comes around this time of year, thoughts of all the ways I will reveal my own unpolished self hug my mind.
I like to keep Awkward Kristen under lock and key, but like the bold scarlet maples in my yard, she can’t help but show off, especially during an event where large numbers of people gather.
Like the time I introduced two people who obviously already knew each other. (And I knew they knew each other.) (Can I admit to you I’ve done this more than once?)
Like the time my hotel room key wouldn’t work and I felt the need to stand in the hallway and tell a passing Jennie Allen a rambling commentary on this fact.
Like the time I didn’t realize I rubbed mascara on my upper cheek and proceeded to waltz about looking like a football player with eye black.
Like the time I left the ladies’ room with my skirt tucked up inside my tights. (Oh, the shame!)
Man, don’t you wish you were awesome and classy like me?
My personality is such that it is easy for me to laugh these things off. After all, a little awkward is a lot endearing. But what isn’t so easy for me to laugh off is the awkward that threatens to show up not only at conferences, but also to every PTO meeting, church activity, and get-together with my husband’s work people: the what-am-I-doing-here-I-don’t-have-it-together-like-these-others Big Sister Awkward.
Yep, she loves to turn a healthy “shoulder shrugging” outside reaction to a What is your problem? internal one.
Over the past twenty years, I can’t begin to count all the gatherings I’ve bloomed and withered during. As a military wife and frequent change-finder, I’ve met countless social situations ripe with newness. But the inside awkward can show up around familiar people too, thanks to my own personality that has a surplus of insecurity and a deficit of confidence. Through the years I’ve learned a few good ways to not let the awkward go to my inside thoughts, and I continue to make slow progress. But I’m not gonna lie: I still struggle with it from time to time. And if someone in my boat struggles–someone who has been thrown into more social situations than the average person–maybe I’m not the only one?
Take heart, friends, because the awkward doesn’t have to get the final say.
If there’s one sentence that ushers me into a room holding the hand of confidence, it’s this:
Kristen, you are just as valuable as everybody else.
Sometimes I have to get specific with it and say,
Kristen, even if your outfit is more rag tag than put together, you’re just as valuable as everybody else.
Kristen, even if you just called that girl the wrong name twice, you’re just as valuable as everybody else.
It’s the in-the-trenches-work of putting into practice what is truth: You are valuable because of what Christ says, not because of what you feel. It’s letting his confidence be your own while allowing it to take the place of awkward in the seat next to you.
If you want to see yourself in reality, then remember your reality is really found in Christ (Colossians 2:17). So no matter how you feel when you waltz into a room or stumble through a conversation, you stand on this stable fact, not your wobbly feelings.
I don’t want to just stare out the window at the autumn rainbow, I want to stand within the colors. So, I push myself off the sofa, throw my jacket around my shoulders, and saunter out the front door. I step into the landscape art, kick up dried leaves and mud around my jeans and boots. I look toward the mountains pointing toward heaven and see how all God’s creation points toward heaven–even the unpolished, the dirty, and the awkward. It all stands tall and brave.
May we remember to use our own unpolished, dirty, and awkward to do the same.
And may we stand a little taller and feel a little braver because of it.
I’m glad it’s not just me……….. 🙂
Me tooooooo Pattie! xoxo
Bethany M. says
I shared this on my blog’s facebook page. I have been writing a lot about being a “misfit” lately (the term taken from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer), and I just love how you put the same subject into words. I really enjoyed your comparison between the fall foliage, and yourself. I have followed your blog a long time, and I always am encouraged by it. Thanks!
Misfits unite! 🙂 Although I guess most everyone feels like a misfit in one way or another.
So wonderful to put arms around each other today and walk this out together. I’m thankful for you, Bethany.
This was such a God send! Friday night we have one of those work dinners for my husband. I already have knots in my stomach! Thank you so much for letting God use you. This is just what I needed. Sending you a big hug and so much thanks!
Sending you a big hug and gratitude in return. You got this, Robin! xo
Amy Tilson says
Please can we be awkward sisters together at Allume? This is so me – and you know the super-pulled-together-like-they-know-what-they-are-doing crowd I’m running with. It’s enough to almost make this gal ready to pay a checked baggage fee to look a little more “in it to win it.” – almost.
Can NOT wait to see you and your gorgeous smile walk into that hotel!! Here’s to hoping we are wearing shoes that don’t have slick sole so we don’t fall down in front of everybody – but we are still valuable even if we do! Love your heart!!!
Amy, I can’t wait to hug your neck next week. I really couldn’t love you more.
Me too! Can we be a trio?
I had my own very awkward moment this weekend – in one of those fantastic military “family” settings where friends and friends of friends unite for a little ones birthday party in the absence of family nearby. I always get tongue tied and silly – this post made me smile as I remembered it and how embarrassed I was by myself – I was able to think of it in a different way. Thank you! Saving this post for future moments I need reminding!
Susan G. says
That is an awesome view in your photo! God is good! Your post will most likely resonate with just about everyone who reads it… We women are like that… So glad God is like He is…always ready to show us and teach us His truths in His Word… how He values us, and delights in us, and has made each of us special, and that we are each His ‘favorite’. 😉 Don’t we all just want to stand a little ‘taller’ and ‘braver’?
Great words Kristen! Thanks!
Shawnelle Eliasen says
This is beautiful. Lovely. And true.
I struggle, so often, in the same way.
Thank you for sharing your precious thoughts. I’m going to hold them in my heart.
Beth Williams says
I struggle with awkward all the time. I was born with punctured ears and so had trouble hearing–thus the awkward!! I didn’t and still don’t much like getting in front of people to talk, do sign language or anything.
Being in large crowds with people I don’t know very well is hard for me. I’m afraid I will say something stupid or act “crazy”.
Hugs to all us AWKWARD women!!!!! 🙂
Angela Giles Klocke says
I love the term “straight up awkward.” My middle child and I say it often. We can both be straight up awkward often. But it’s just who we are and we embrace it as much as possible. Loved this!
Just another reason why I like you, Angela. xo
Heather Britain says
I really enjoyed reading this. I’m 44 years old and I still struggle with this also. Although I’m soooo much better than I used to be. One on one I’m good, but get me in a group I clam up, feel shy, and feel like I don’t measure up. This blog just really hits the spot for me❤️
I feel like this 24/7, especially since my brain surgery almost 3 years ago. It doesn’t matter who I talk to, where I go, I feel awkward with a capital A! I remind myself of how God sees me. I forge ahead because I, too, “don’t want to just stare out the window at the autumn rainbow, I want to stand within the colors.” Thank you for this. I needed to read this today.