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.