Monday, January 21, 2008

You're a little weird.

When I worked for Bose in Framingham, Massachusetts, I would occasionally be asked to make presentations. My father is a minister so the idea of public speaking is not something I am uncomfortable with. In fact, most days I like it. But one day, on the morning of a big meeting, I realized I had forgotten my pants at home.

I worked out in the morning before the day started and usually showered at Bose. So on this day, after a quick work out, I realized I didn’t have any clothes. Since I was more than 40 minutes from home I couldn’t just go back and get some. So I called my friend Chris and he let me borrow some of his clothes.

That was an incredibly kind thing to do but the pants were about 5 sizes too big for me. I quickly realized this when I slipped them on and could fold the waistband over. Did you ever “peg” or “roll” the ankles of your pants when you were in middle school? Basically you just fold them over and roll them in a tight, wicked cool design. The waistband was like that.

And the crotch was worse. It was down to my knees. I had enough room to store one of those all in one printer, scanner, copier machines in the lap area. I looked like MC Hammer, which is why I did the crab dance or typewriter if you will, the moment I took the stage for the meeting.

All in all it was a fairly weird experience and yet, I’m starting to think that’s how faith is sometimes. I was reminded of that while reading 1 Samuel. In chapter 1, Eli finds Hannah praying. Here is what happens:

As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine."

"Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."

Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him."

The thing I like about that section is that Hannah wasn’t doing anything all that odd and yet, Eli, someone who should have known better, thought she was drunk. Have you ever been praying so fervently that someone thought you were drunk? Have you ever been worshipping in such a way that people stared? Why not?

I think on some level, we’re all a little afraid to look weird. By no means must you raise your hands to the heaven to worship, but what if you want to? Me, I’d be a little embarrassed. I’m still worried about what people around me are going to think. I wrote about that happening when my wife started knitting before church started. And today, a reader challenged me about why I wouldn’t write a complaint letter to Kohler about their “have an affair” toilet commercial.

The truth is I thought it would be weird. I thought maybe that was something only fanatics would do, but maybe I need to be more like Hannah. Maybe I need to be more willing to look different. To sound different. To be different.

If I’m going to follow God, I’m going to be weird and I think that’s OK.

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