Tuesday, November 17, 2009

awkward place

I don't like awkward situations. Like when one person in a group expresses an opinion quite forcefully and in a way that belittles any other position, and yet, you know that a number of people there hold to a different viewpoint. Like when a friend tells you that they are not sure they want you to meet their other friends. Like someone trying to uninvite you from a party. Like making a comment about how unattractive something is and then realising that your conversation partner is really into that particular thing.

The awkward feeling goes away after a bit, but that doesn't mean that it is resolved. These are the situations where I feel most inept, wondering whether to inject a comment, try to smooth things over, expose a misunderstanding, apologise, make light of the situation, or clarify by a few well-directed questions. I have let things lie and many times, that feels like the issue is never dealt with but remains lurking under the surface. I have tried to clarify and ended up making things worse, or so it seems. I have apologised and felt that I avoided the truth and any conflict instead of facing it bravely. And so I continue to bumble along, trying to get it right, trying to be real and truthful and loving.

God reminds me that the story is not finished; relationships are not static. The tenuous nature of some of my interactions with my friends and acquaintances are just a temporary phase and not the final chapter. Love is a long road. It is not for the timid. Love braces itself for the strong winds and calmly waits through the dry, still, heat, but it will not abandon the journey. It takes awkward moments in stride, like a pebble in one's shoe.

I will not walk away from this road of friendship. I will learn to graciously ignore the thoughtless mistakes of others, but to gently offer guidance if they stumble in a wrong direction, and to discern the difference between the two. I will learn to be honest and humble, admitting when I am wrong and sticking to the truth when it is challenged, but not at the expense of another person's dignity. I will keep my thoughts to myself and pray for God's kind and patient presence in someone's life when I have no way to appropriately address the situation, however, I will not be silent when someone is slandered or misrepresented.

Help me, God, this is not easy.

This is a photo of a fall bush along the path near our house.

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