I’m trying to live a little more awkwardly lately. I know some of you think I’ve already maxed out the awkward, but stick with me. I want to live the kind of life that stops and listens when I’m busy, that prays out loud when I’m shy, that turns and faces someone I’d rather ignore, that does awkward over normal because God tells me to.
My sister and I took our anual Arizona vacation the end of July. We like heat. A lot. Every July or August we pack our bags and meet in Arizona for 3-4 days of blistering heat. She’s a nanny and I’m me. After a summer of non-stop kids we are so ready to simply be quiet. We find resorts dirt cheap (because who really wants to bake in Arizona in the summer?) and hang out at the adult only pool. We sneak in our own watermelon lemonade and chips, steal all the pool noodles to create our own rafts, and read books and talk until we can’t take the burning anymore. Then we go and eat copious amounts of tacos and come back in time for magic hour at the pool; when it’s dark and hot and nobody is around. We float until we’re tired, fall asleep to HGTV, and wake up and do it all over again. We’re obviously extreme party animals.
Our first day at the pool this year we were the only ones there. The tiki bar guy, Collin, became our friend. It’s not like he was getting any money from us (see above sneaking in of food and drinks) but he had no one else to hang out with. The next day we were floating and he came over to talk to us. He squatted down by the pool and started telling us his story. He’s 22 and fairly new in town and trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to do. He’s feeling so much pressure to be like everyone else his age. We could tell he was discouraged. We listened to him and took a minute to speak truth into his life and commend him on his journey. He went on his way and my sister and I started plotting. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re aunties or maybe it’s the fact that we have a soft spot for people or maybe we’re just doers but we wanted to do something. Collin had stolen our hearts with his story and his struggle.
That night at 9pm we got in our rental car and drove to Safeway. We packed a brown sack full of food for Collin. Gatorade and crackers and gummies and granola bars (think all things that won’t melt in the Arizona heat). We prayed for him as he drove back to the hotel and we slipped a note of encouragement into the sack. The next morning we felt as awkward as anyone could ever feel as we carried his sack of groceries to the pool. Awkward is more our comfort zone than normal anyways so we decided to just go with it. I went over to the bar and told Collin we had something for him. He came over and we presented him with groceries. We felt awkward, we felt weird, but we also felt convicted. There was no way we weren’t going to do it. Collin looked down at the groceries and started crying. We told him we were proud of him and he was so brave. We told him not to give up. We told him he was awesome. We told him we were praying for him. He cried and said it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him. He walked away sniffing and we sat in our lounge chair beaming. It was Sunday and while we hadn’t gone to church we had gone to church. Know what I mean? Sometimes being the church means not being in a church.
Long after his tears had dried and he’d posted a selfie of us on snapchat my sister and I were still talking. We didn’t know why God had us do that but we knew we were supposed to. Maybe his parents in Colorado were fervently praying for someone to speak life into their son. Maybe he had plans to end his life that weekend. Maybe discouragement was rising and nipping at his neck and he needed a word. Maybe money was tight and he needed groceries. We didn’t know. What we do know, even now, is that that moment was the highlight of our vacation. Forget the pool and tacos, people are more important. The lesson is still sticking with me even today as I fly home from a speaking engagement. The woman sitting next to me found out what I do and has been peppering me with questions about God (she’s sleeping at the moment). “You’re trapped and I have some questions.” The tired me wants to put earbuds in and go to sleep but then I think of Collin and I turn and face her and we talk. I want to be a little crazier. I want to be a little more interruptible. I want to be a little less comfortable. I want to lean towards awkward without looking back.