Okay guys, let me tell you about an awkward moment I recently had. But first! I have a serious question. Does anyone else take a “Sunday” nap? If we don’t have meetings or lunch appointments, all four of the Anderson’s have an appointment with their pillows in the afternoon. You know what a “Sunday” nap is, right? It’s the kind of nap you don’t quickly wake up out of, the kind of nap that ruins dinner and bed time. The kind of nap you need a Netflix binge to recover from. We crash hard and wake up with sweaty bed head, bright pink cheeks, eyes wide open, not feeling conversational, and basically, a church hangover. We love church and participate to the fullest every Sunday morning and that is the mood I am in that brings me to this awkward moment.
A few months ago, I stopped at a coffee shop for some fuel on my way to an evening meeting. Our church is downtown and parking is across the street in a parking garage. I get the boys out of the car, and cross the street in heels, carrying my purse, a diaper bag, my toddler and my precious coffee, while keeping an eye on my first grader. I am tossing thoughts back and forth trying to keep in step… “I need to pull up my pants. Wish this toddler wouldn’t kick and make them sag! Walk on the balls of your feet so the heel doesn’t get stuck in the max rail track. What’s my first graders saying? No! Save the cookie until the end of the service. Don’t spill the coffee. Don’t spill the coffee. Don’t spill the coffee.”
Inside the building, the pastor asked everyone to stand up, meet someone new and pray for them. The evening service had already started. Everyone stood up, turned to face their friends and started talking. You know you do it. 😉 The ladies grabbed hands or hugged their friends and started sharing their prayer requests. While the guys just stood there, arms crossed or hands in pockets, and start talking about how they aren’t going to hold hands.
I walked in late and grabbed my seat after dropping off kiddo #2 in the nursery. Technically, I had to text my husband to find where he saved our seats. (I’m short enough I can’t see from the back.) When I got to my seat in the front row I saw my friend and we starting chatting. I was drinking my 16oz coffee so fast, hoping, no, NEEDING the caffeine to take effect. After I pulled up my jeans and adjusted my jacket, I put my bag on the chair and started fixing my hair because you know, FRIZZ! In the middle of sharing our prayer requests the pastor walks off the stage, walks right to me and my friend, points and says “will you guys pray for the lady behind you?” My kind and always thoughtful friend standing next to me was kinda startled by the pastor jumping in, but she didn’t think too much of it. Now, imagine me, drinking a coffee, trying to be spiritual and wake up out of this fuzzy forgetful space my brain was in. I started smiling and put my “Hey girl! Welcome!” face on. We both turned around and froze for a brief moment. I’m sure my eyes were wide open. I froze. There she was, the new girl. I’m not sure I can do justice for this totally awkward moment!
It felt like slow-mo, my eyes met her eyes, then my friends eyes. I wish I had a boomerang of the expression on her face, my face, and my friends face, back to my face and then her face again. The new girl just stood there and stared at us. I was expecting her to jump in and do what everyone else does when they are greeted. I expected to be acknowledged, or even if she was shy something simple like a “hey my name is…” However, what I was expecting was not what happened. I saw a woman, with a tense stare. I promise, she didn’t blink! Her eyes were like lasers into my soul. I wanted to say “at ease soldier.” She was a statue, no movement or emotion, and no words. Not even breathing moved her.
Here’s the thing, until that moment, I didn’t even see her! You have to remember, I got to my seat late because of stopping to get a coffee and then dropping off my kiddo in the nursery. And technically, when I got to my seat I should have passed her but she wasn’t in the second row yet. She wasn’t there! That spot was wide open. It’s like she just appeared and her next course of action was to do the mannequin challenge at church.
I remember saying “Hi my name is Stephanie!” and she simply said “hi.” (LONG PAUSE) No, longer…. It. Was. Awkward. I mean, what are you supposed to do when two strangers who just woke up from Sunday naps meet? So I looked at my friend and said “do you want to pray?” She said “sure.” We prayed for her, but to be honest, in the middle of the prayer I was so distracted with my own thoughts. “How did I not see her before? There is no way I could have missed her arrival, but I did! I am always keeping my eyes open for faces I don’t recognize, and she slipped into the service without me even noticing, even when I was also slipping in late! Am I really that off? I don’t even remember driving here. How did I get here?” We said amen, smiled, found our seats and the service continued. I am still trying to finish my coffee at this point.
In the middle of the preaching, my friend leaned over and burst out laughing and tried to whisper “I had no idea she was there.” You have to understand, my friend is the nicest person alive. She has no enemies. Then I started laughing. “Me too!” It was funny that she was also trying to figure out where this lady came from. It was funny that she just stared at us when we greeted her. And as really funny trying to hold in a laugh in a quiet setting, IN. THE. FRONT. ROW!!! It took a moment to settle down from the laughing. It’s always bad when you can’t laugh out loud. But to be honest, as funny as it was to have someone just staring us down, we were also kind-of embarrassed of the fact that we just got into the rhythm of just chatting with each other and didn’t even notice her.
Now, how many other times in my life, have I been in rhythm and not noticed the quiet person next to me? Granted, I don’t have eyes on the back of my head so I didn’t lose sleep over the situation, but it was a moment that I am using as a reminder to continually be aware of those around me, and those people are why I create margin in my life. Life is loud, people are loud, emotions are loud, media is loud, thoughts are loud, time is loud, so when a silent individual is in the midst, it’s highly probable that we could miss them. I know I did!
John chapter ten, verse ten, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Everyday there are silent people walking through their days filled with confusion, pain, or worse, just nothing! It’s our job to care for ourselves well enough to be able to look for and care for these people. We represent God and the life He gives. I don’t want to pass up on an opportunity to smile, pray and share about the all-powerful God that I serve, just because someone is a quiet individual, and won’t reach out. If you are like me, please consider praying this prayer and plan for God to use you to bring someone into a community of faith that cares. Does that make sense?
Thank you for the abundant life you have given to me.
Help me to take care of myself and everything you have entrusted to me.
Help me to see others the way you see them.
Holy Spirit, please be my reminder to share the Gospel today.
Please give me the right words to say, when I get nervous.
Help me to share a kind smile, pray bold prayers and share your love.
Please come in power and do miracles on their behalf.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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How do you wake up from a Sunday nap?
Real, unedited “post Sunday nap” footage with kiddo #1 and I.