Monday, March 7, 2011
The Shoe is on the Other Foot
I got an e-mail just a bit ago, from a woman I have only met briefly, asking me out for coffee. Weird, huh? I don't mean "weird...she asked me to join her for coffee." I mean, "weird...this makes me feel awkward." This woman is from the church we have been going to for a couple months now. She seems like a lovely person - cute, bubbly, friendly, a young mom. Yet, this role of "reaching out to another" is usually - historically - the part I have played in this scenario. Not that I have always done it as well as I would have liked or as often as I would have liked, but being the P.W. (pastor's wife) for so many years...all my married years...I was accustomed to reaching out...hoping to draw in, to encourage and to support. And, now, here I am...the new girl...a visitor...not quite "in" yet. Here I am...the one being reached out to, being drawn in, encouraged, and supported.
For pretty much 16 of our 17 years of marriage, I was automatically "known" within our churches or ministry work Ken was leading. While there were moments when I wanted to hide briefly from this inherited-by- marriage position, it was a place that I enjoyed and which felt familiar. In truth, I really loved being a P.W.. I would never have changed it and miss it deeply some days. It gave me an opportunity to speak into lives naturally. It made sense that I would reach out and draw in. I loved (and still love) meeting and encouraging others - it gives me such joy and energy. Yet now, I am just another new person in the crowd trying to figure out how I want to be known...if I want to be known...in the church we are attending.
Of course, I want to be known. Who doesn't want to be recognized and known? Who wouldn't love to be noticed and invited for coffee? But it feels so strange. It's like the first time I went to a Women's Ministry event here too...walking in, without responsibility or having played a major part in getting the event organized, felt so odd and foreign. And, I really only sort of knew one other person in the room. I wondered, "is this what it is like for someone new?" And now, I feel grateful and awkward all at the same time over an invitation to coffee. Wow. Who knew I might feel this way? Who knew it would leave me feeling so vulnerable and out of sorts? Why is that?
I have my suspicions as to why it feels so strange. I don't think I can articulate all of them...not today. But, when you are shaped and molded in one direction for so long, a shift in direction is bound to feel funny. It's bound to stretch and sometimes stretching hurts. Sometimes it gives you that "it hurts but in a good way" sensation. I think that is what I am feeling. At the same time, I feel a sense of "oh no - what if she doesn't like me?" Funny that I should feel that way. It's not something I feel very often and I rarely felt it when the shoe was on the other foot. After all, I was the one inviting or reaching out...I'd made the choice to seek someone out. But to be sought out...that's a whole 'nuther matter. There are so many thoughts that I have that I can't write down right now. I try to be vulnerable as I write, for my sake as well as for anyone who might read. But I just can't write them all down...I start, then I stop, and start again...deleting, rephrasing. It just won't come. No matter. The words that won't come will be worked out eventually - maybe not here and maybe not even out loud - but they will be worked out.
I hit send and accepted the offer. The details still need to be worked out. I have a few days, at least, before the shoe adjustment will take place. I think I need to go have a chat with God about this one. He'll help the words come and I'm sure He will stretch me until I say, "yep, that hurts, but in a good way." He alone can take my awkward insecurity and turn it into gracious acceptance of a lovely gesture. He alone can give me peace enough to not be worried about whether or not she likes me...after all He is the One that made me. He alone will work out the knots in my stomach. And, I am pretty sure, that in the end, He will make sure the shoe fits just the way it is supposed to.