Clunky and Awkward

Two weekends ago I got to be a part of a wonderful group of women who streamed the IF women’s conference into a local living room. Near the end, Jen Hatmaker- a keynote said, (and I paraphrase from memory),

“When Jesus said, feed the hungry, love the widow, help the poor.…He was not speaking metaphorically. Instead, we have to get out there with the people who are hurting for love and really love them. To really know/serve/help/befriend/live life with people is not easy. It costs us something and it’s often really hard to get started. We might start all clunky and awkward and quite frankly fake-it-til-we-make-it. Start doing what you feel deep down you should do, and eventually you’ll start to feel like doing it.”

It’s the “clunky and awkward” part that really gets me.

Starting something brand new makes me nervous and excited. I haven’t transitioned between very many jobs but there is something very vulnerable about being brand new in a company or office where everyone else is established. Today my friend Melissa is braving this feat and I know she’ll do extremely well. I applaud her for walking into the brand new with boldness and probably some really cute shoes.

While I haven’t worked many places, I’ve started new things. I’ve taken a chance and tried to do something I’ve never done before with varying levels of immediate success. The big ones I’m thinking of in chronological order:

1) Going on the YL staff– my only YL experience being that I had dated a YL leader. Made some awkward mistakes on those sweet Savannah club nights.

2) Becoming a mom (thanks to that YL leader I dated….5 years later!) Sweet baby Elijah bearing the brunt of our parental clunkiness, he survived swimmingly.

3) Starting Crossfit – oh my, learning how to clean a medicine ball reduced me to tears- add “uncoordinated” to the definition.

Getting started on doing something that matters, that asks one to risk, commit, and engage in the heart, is an invitation we must take.

Drew and I are leading YL again at Park Hill. Our hearts believe in the mission of Young Life and we stand by the effectiveness of the Gospel and genuine and caring relationships being the bedrock of shaping lives. However, we’ve been out of the leading loop for 3 years which is just long enough for us to lose almost all connection with students. We are figuring out how to fit in with our own 3 kids, our new job schedules, and the desire to do it all well. At times we’re faking our competence but not our conviction. We’re clunking along, trying to find the smoother road.

I went to give platelets last Tuesday. A steady whole blood donor, (bolstered in the habit by Drew’s donating discipline), I was convinced before Christmas that I should step to the other side of the office and give at another level. When I went last week to the appointment I made 2 months ago, I felt pretty ready. My kids were all in good hands, I had a productive morning and felt relaxed enough to sit and give for 2 hours.

About 25 minutes into the expected 90 minutes it would take to draw the donation, my brown boots were squeezing my toes. I thought about asking the phlebotomist to help me unzip them but she was busy. So I slightly moved to the side to reach the zipper.  I didn’t think I moved my left arm but did feel a giant zing and heard tell tale beeps announcing incessantly that I had done something wrong. Indeed, I shifted enough to move the giant needle around inside my arm which created a nice hematoma, and stopped the donation.

I felt some pain but mostly I felt silly. I should have asked for help, sucked it up for 65 more minutes, or worn different shoes. They kindly assured me I wasn’t the only one to do this sort of thing and that most people who make this mistake only make it once.

Clunky and awkward and new and full of errors can be the beginning of something that changes lives. Or  might just be the beginning of a massive forearm bruise.

I want to take chances, answer invitations, meet needs, try something big, and push through the clumsy phase to something smooth and change making. I’m not quite sure how many pursuits in this direction I can take at once!

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