I was recently reading a book and the author said that it is prideful to keep our stories (the word of our testimony) to ourself. That to not speak up about what God has done in our lives is actually the opposite of humility, which is often the label we give this silence. And this makes sense to me because it is not myself I am bragging on at all. If anything my writing is usually self-deprecating, exposing. It is Jesus I am bragging on, the Author of my story and Redeemer of the mess I’ve made of it. But for years I had considered it prideful to want to share.
Funny how Satan twists truths we’ve learned into lies in our minds, isn’t it? Actually it’s not funny at all. It’s disgusting and despicable. It silences and paralyzes our witness. It keeps others from seeing that, if God can work in my life, the worst of these, then He can certainly work in yours too.
I believe that one of the most subtle yet powerful lies Satan has used in the past several decades to silence the messengers of the Lord (that’s you, child!), is the concept of awkwardness. We’re slaves to it! When was the last time you didn’t do something you felt the Spirit was prompting you to do because you feared the situation would be awkward? I’ll tell ya for me, yesterday. (And I just woke up today, so I’m sure the battle’s coming.)
I wrote this piece a few months back after braving a few awkward conversations at our new church our first Sunday there. One gal came up to me, and we joked about how we both just have the personality of pushing past social barriers and hugging/getting to know people right away. What I didn’t say out loud was that this is NOT my nature, but something that, by the grace of God, I am learning to operate in. I laughed and -so weirdly- blurted out, “Yeah, awkward is a prison!” I’m sure she doesn’t remember it, but I felt awkward and stupid and wondered why I couldn’t be more cool in social settings. (Typical overanalyzing, I’m sure none of you do that.)
But it got me thinking. Where had that come from? I did believe it. This concept of Satan using this fear of awkward against us has been on my heart for a while. So I decided to put pen to paper later that evening to work it all out in my mind. To work out why, though I said that awkwardness was a prison to keep us bound and ineffective, I still operated under its enslavement (obviously, by my mental reaction in that situation, but I also knew this to be true in many other areas of my Christian walk, such as evangelism and lots of other ministry situations.)
And I share this all with you now because as I wrote, what kept thumping through my mind was what I had told a friend just a few weeks prior, that she should “write hard and clear about what hurts” (Hemingway). And today, as I share a new platform for writing more consistently with y’all, I figured I should take my own advice. It’s time to write hard and clear about what hurts. So here we are. Welcome to the mess. Thanks for being here. I pray you find freedom from your own prison.
Awkward is a Prison
I’m having a little trouble speaking up.
I look up, but then down
Because of the lies I’ve been told
And this scam I’ve been sold
In my teens by society, and even by me:
That my past should keep me
From ever having the right to speak
Truth to you in response to the lies.
My soul tries to hide because
I just can’t (you can)
Speak truth, even when –
Especially when – they think it’s all trash.
I just so desperately desire to
Stand up and live out my call:
That I’m worthy and made new,
Bought at a price to be used
To your glory and your good.
So please, tell me why the distortion and lies
That I’ve buried inside
Haunt me each time I try.
I hear That’s Weird (don’t try),
I Wish You’d Just Leave Me Alone,
To Act Like You Know My Life – You Don’t
Have Respect For My Views.
(But your world view is broken and
Stripped of any semblance of truth)
But they say, Don’t Lie To Me Either!
So I don’t know where to land with you,
I’m so scared to offend,
I just wonder when I’ll be free
From this Prison of Awkward.
But my Dad, Jesus, he declares
That he’s broken wide open
All of my chains.
Then why do I still sit frozen in my Prison,
All hunkered down in my overwhelmed mind,
Thinking I’m shackled by all the
Please Don’ts and I’m Goods
That I have never actually even heard out loud
Because I’m too scared to dare to try
To step outside of my prison walls
And speak that good gospel
I’m holding in my cupped hands,
Like water welling, it’s spilling,
But here I am
Only sharing with those few from whom
I feel I don’t have to hide.
I’m a fool,
Sitting still in my Prison of Awkward.
And so I write, and I pray, and I post,
But will I ever dare to say
My real heart and how it’s been changed
By my King, who gave his very life away
To rescue me from my Prison of Awkward?
About now they’d probably say
Bring it home, land the plane,
But if I’m honest it’s dark
And I struggle to navigate my way
Out of the dirt and the dust,
The grime and the rust
That erodes my faith away –
My Prison walls they seem caked
With this illusion of unworthy and dirty –
And it keeps me trapped inside
My Prison of Awkward.
But I know that’s a lie to the nines,
Because, you see, I’ve already been set free
To love and to live and to thrive and to speak,
By the power of my sweet Papa,
I call him Abba, Father.
But it seems to me that without some slight push
I might just stay right here,
Waste away my new life –
The price paid and my slate cleaned –
He calls out to me,
“Just walk out! Please, don’t stay
There in a Prison of Awkward.”
So Jesus, please, I pray
Set me free today.
Uncuff my hands, so covered in dirt,
Wash them clean of
the hurt and the pain.
I can’t stand one more day
Stuck here in the muck
Of my perceived disarray.
So please, break those chains
And show me your true way
Of liberty and convert me to look more like you.
Make me bold, make me brave
To shout loud about the ways
You’ve changed me and shaped me,
Restored and remade me.
I hear you say, “No way,
She’s mine. She can’t stay.”
So you call me and you woo me,
You beckon, you pursue me.
You bang on the door of cardboard
I’ve put up to complete my cell
And make it seem like I can’t get out,
But the truth is you’ve already made
A way for me to break out from
This Prison of Awkward.
So Jesus, kick down these lies in my mind,
This door of absolute trash I’ve set up.
For me in every possible way.
In your name, with your power, I pray,
And God, I declare it, I’m changed,
Released, liberated, delivered.
Those are no longer my ways.
Thank you Jesus
Because each new day, you say,
“Remember that I’ve set you free
from that old prison of awkward.”