WORDS FROM W.W. March 1, 2013
There are sometimes things that a person does just because! Like taking your daughter to a Justin Bieber concert and realizing that the average age of the 20,000 attenders…not including yourself…is 13…rounded off to the nearest year! Why would a parent do such a thing? The answer: Just because!
Last week my girls’ basketball team had a team dinner. Great food, great time together…and then the fingernail polish came out! The twelve girls were painting their fingernails five different colors in preparation for the last game of the season the next day. (When my son’s soccer team was preparing for the state play-offs each of the players dyed their hair blonde!).
You may have already figured out what comes next in the story.
“Coach, it’s your turn!”
“It’s time to get your fingernails painted!”
I wouldn’t call it peer pressure that have me cave in. It was more like allowing them to paint my nails…just because! My wife had her cell phone out taking pictures like it was a Cover Girl photo op!
Blue…red…silver…orange…and black…on each hand! I left the team dinner decorated! The next day I spent a good deal of the time with my hands in my pockets or with gloves on. I discovered where the nail polish remover is located at Walgreen’s for use immediately after the game.
What I discovered is that painted fingernails is outside my comfort zone. I was completely aware of my counter-cultural masculine look anytime I was in public. Actually I was aware of it most of the rest of time as well, because my hands are usually palms down in front of me instead of palms up. When one of those nails on each hand is painted with a glittery silver it’s distracting.
Everyone of us has things that are outside our comfort zone. Sometimes we allow ourselves to enter the uncomfortableness “just because.” Sometimes we realize that what we are about is more important that our uneasiness.
I had the sense that everyone was looking at me in those few hours when I was polished. It felt like I had just accidentally burped in the midst of a high-priced restaurant. The blush radiated!
What the experience also gain me was a sense of how someone new feels coming into a church situation. Like a 58 year old man with painted fingernails, there is an intimidation factor. It used to be that churches would recognize first-time visitors by having them stand or raising their hands to receive a special gift. Some would not agree with me on this one, but I think someone visiting a church for the first time feels uncomfortable enough as it is. “Churched people” may have lower anxiety levels, but unchurched people aren’t sure what they are getting themselves into in just being there at all. They may be there “just because.” Like a parent at a Justin Bieber concert, it may very well be a one-and-done experience. What would prompt an unchurched person to want to come back again? Probably about three things! One would be an encounter with the “mystery of the holy.” That they would experience something that they can’t quite describe, but know that something has been stirred within them.
Two would be that the person senses in some way that what happens in worship has relevance for life. It isn’t a “how to” seminar, but rather a look at life through a different lens or from a different perspective.
And three would be that the person would have a sense that the people of the faith gathering are fellow life journeyers, who haven’t arrived, but are still on the journey. The church would convey words like “help”, “compassion”, “inviting”, “grace”, “hope”, and “affirmation”, not “judgment”, “arrogance”, “apathy”, and “frosty.” The reason I was willing to have my fingernails glitter is that twelve other girls had already done it. Even though it was uncomfortable think how uncomfortable…and weird…it would have been if they would have done my nails, but not done their own. Sometimes the church has a critical eye about those who are uncomfortably seeking. In a culture where many people desire to stand out there is still an uncomfortableness about standing out in new situations.
I’ve used the nail polish remover, but the interesting thing is that there is still some residue…okay, maybe a better term is evidence…of the polish. One of my thumbnails that are painted orange looks like I had an orange slushie that leaked. But as I look at it, weird as it seems, I have good memories of that evening…just because.