There’s an uncomfortableness when initiating meaningful moments. Not sure why. But surely you know the feeling I’m talking about. The moment when you want to pray for someone, but you hesitate because it feels awkward. Or when you think it would be good to take a conversation to a deeper level, but you’re afraid others won’t join you. Or you gather as a small group and you hate to interrupt the social, and you’re not quite sure how to transition to the devotional.
Maybe these moments are awkward because we wish they would initiate themselves, naturally occur without us trying. So when we prompt intentional conversations and activities, it appears forced. Unnatural. And it is.
We spend so much of our time traveling through the superficial, surface details of our everyday life. We talk weather, food, school, social plans, holidays. These comfortable conversations serve a purpose in how we relate and draw near to one another. It is in these places where we find connection. Friendly relationships. Compatibility.
But these conversations won’t sustain us. They won’t grow us closer to one another and God. It’s the conversations of our heart that produce intimacy. So it’s necessary that we initiate moments when our hearts can converse together. I think these conversations can be awkward because we don’t spend enough time in these places. And the places we frequent less are usually more uncomfortable.
Heart connections rarely happen by accident or coincidence. And if we wait around for them to materialize, we’re wasting time not growing.
I’ve placed before you the idea that hospitality is a heart the welcomes, a spirit that invites and a life that is interruptible.
A heart that welcomes creates an openness to people and their stories. It’s a heart that communicates, you are wanted here.
A spirit that invites is the active part of hospitality. It’s a spirit who creates opportunities for people to be included. It’s a spirit who actively pursues others and initiates moments for God’s story to pierce ours.
If we are to be a people who welcome others to share life with us, it’s important that we practice this art of initiating. Some people initiate with ease. Their questions and ideas are well received, and they move people toward intentional living without much effort. For others, we need practice. But I promise, it’s something we’ll get better at the more we do it.
Some of us are trying to engage Advent with intentionality this year. Others may want to, but don’t have the confidence to initiate the moments. To push through the awkward. Or maybe you don’t think it will go as you hope. And it probably won’t! Want to hear about how ours went?
Our family gathered on Sunday for our first Advent conversation. The dog threw up in the middle of the floor. The restless littles interrupted countless times. Myles wanted to answer every question we asked, but he never knew what to say. And every child’s prayer focused on having fun this Christmas. Not exactly how I thought the moment would go. But you know what? We did it. We gathered. We talked. We prayed. And we will do it again, believing that this will open our hearts to the coming Christ.
So I want to encourage you. To motivate you toward doing what it takes to make these moments happen. As you move people toward conversation and intentional moments, here are a few things to consider:
With humility, be confident in the conversation or activity. The more awkward you appear, the more awkward others will respond.
It’s gracious to ask permission. By doing so you’re inviting them to receive you. Example: I would like to pray for you. Would that be okay? Or, I have an idea that I would like us to do together. Is everyone up for it?
Lead through example. If you are asking others to participate in a conversation or activity, be prepared to share first and shape the conversation with your openness or thoughts.
Include the children. Children bring a sense of ease to all things. They don’t feel awkward because they don’t know to! They are willing to participate, and likely their answers and thoughts will bring laughter and set a comfortable tone.
Be okay with awkward. So what if you or those you are with feel a little uncomfortable as you try a new way of talking or relating during a holiday or family gathering. Remember, it’s in those uncomfortable places where we learn and change.
Don’t have expectations. Try not to have a plan for how the conversation or activity will turn out. This may only disappoint you and discourage you from trying again. Be okay with it not going how you thought. Be okay with people minimally participating. Be okay with the conversation being short.
Start now. Be a person, a family who intentionally lives…now. Don’t wait for it to feel right. Don’t wait until you’re married. Don’t wait for your children to get older. Begin now.
May God grace our conversations this month as we wait for him. As we expect his coming. As we learn to welcome together.