Actual Food — Awkward Silence
Sustenance for The Spirit
The phrase “that’s awkward” has become colloquial. Awkwardness is something we don’t usually enjoy, but to put a name to those moments when we are unsure and ill at ease helps us cope. An awkward silence can be doubly difficult due to our need to fill empty space, which includes sound-space, and the unusualness of a particular situation that suddenly emerges. How to gracefully rise out of one of those experiences with confidence and an improved relationship, or situation, is an art. Those blessed with natural social skills can often navigate through an awkward silence with a win, which amazes others who are not so blessed in the social skill department.
I’ve begun to notice a common occurrence of awkward silence during the milliseconds of transition from a group worship time and “regular” life. It seems that after being involved in a spirit-filled time of singing and/or prayer, there is a minute space of time where everyone stands looking a bit uncomfortable, maybe like your personal gps is broken. It seems as if direct eye contact should be avoided and conversation should be about anything that relates to the normal, regular stuff one normally talks about. It’s as if the spirit-filled moment ends so that usual life can begin, but depending on how involved spiritually we have just been in worship, it can be supremely awkward to regain a composure with other humans where we feel accepted and able to interact with others.
In James 1:22–25, scripture says,
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.” (NIV)
Let’s stop and consider a better way to transition from spirit to secular. We should probably try to stay clear of dualism, which attempts to segment our lives into parts rather than allow our spiritual selves to be inclusive of our physical presence in human world. There are many factors that can play a role in how we express our spiritual nature in regular, earthly living. Our background, upbringing, personality and relationships influence how we’re able to carry our worship from the church building to our homes, workplaces, events, schools and other gathering places. Again in James the writer says, “If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs what good is it?” (James 2:16, NIV) I get the clear impression that as we transition from the spiritual encouragement of worship to the business of regular life, there is an expectation that we’ll carry our heightened spirit through our hands and feet, our words and actions, and our speech, to those who need our kind service.
In Colossians 3, verses one and two, we are told to “set our mind on things above,” versus “earthly things.” Isn’t that a purpose of our worship time together? To block out the “world” and focus on our God above, But, not stopping as the final notes of the final song fade into the silent seconds of transition to regular human living. The idea I’m reading in scripture is to push through the awkward silence, carrying our renewed zeal in our renewed selves to renew the world outside of our church buildings.
Thankfully, we have a Helper. In John 14:16–17, Jesus tells His disciples, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither see him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” As our spiritual being is touched through words, prayers, songs and/or feelings during worship, the “Spirit of truth” is being touched. When something this powerful is happening, is it possible to leave, acting as if nothing spiritual just happened? I believe I need to become more aware of the holistic nature of a life drenched in the spiritual. We don’t live two lives, we live through a unification of spiritual and physical. When the final amen is spoken, and silence follows, let’s listen for God’s spirit saying, “you’re different than you were a few minutes ago, so continue on in that knowledge.” The Spirit will help us through the silence to better transitions to a Spirit-filled life.
Have a wonderful day!