Anyone that knows me well knows that I am a champion overthinker. It is probably my greatest talent. I was made painfully aware of the depth of this disorder while sitting in a friend’s driveway holding a bottle of hand soap. You see, a few weeks earlier, my friend Claire had approached me after worship and asked if we could help keep each other accountable for day to day housekeeping. Throughout the following days we had been texting each other our goals, successes, and failures. One of her main goals happened to be getting her kitchen, specifically the sink, spotless. It was on that particular day I got a picture on my phone of this achievement. I was so excited for her and wanted to do something encouraging so I grabbed a brand new bottle of my favorite kitchen hand soap, tied a note to it, and decided to take it to leave it on her doorstep as a surprise.
There I was, sitting in her driveway, and the little voice in my head started dissuading me from the task at hand. Is this a completely weird thing to do? What kind of gift is soap? What if she thinks it strange that I was leaving something on her doorstep uninvited? The questions kept coming like a barrage of bullets. Thankfully, I decided to take a giant breath and leave the soap. Writing this out now sounds so incredibly silly because Claire is now one of my dearest friends on planet earth and this action helped solidify that friendship. My habit of overthinking almost placed a giant roadblock in the way.
I wanted so much to be an encourager, I wanted to be the one who said or did the right thing that could brighten someone else’s day. However, I recognized that on so many occasions I had allowed my disease of overthinking to paralyze my actions. Upon this realization, I decided to visit with my friend Jennifer, who was one of the biggest encouragers I had ever met. I recounted my story of the soap and described the fact that I was so worried about how people would respond to me that I could not bring myself to do and say many of the things I wanted. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “But it’s not about you is it?” Eight years later, I can still hear these words echoing in my head…She was right…I had made the entire endeavor about myself. How would these things affect ME? What would these people think of ME? What would happen to ME? The answer was simple: get over myself and decide to just be weird. If I do one hundred things to lift others up and a few people think I’m an odd duck (which I am by the way), who cares! I have encouraged so many others!
Over and over again Scripture echos this sentiment: Just Be Weird! Peter calls us aliens and strangers, reminding us that we shouldn’t look like the rest of the world (1 Peter 1:1, 2:11). Paul reminds us that we should not be “conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2). He understood that we must allow God’s will to shape our lives and not the cares and worries of the world. If I am truly taking these verses to heart, it won’t surprise me when I feel a little weird. There should be times when the good things I am doing do not line up with societal norms and I have to be okay with that. In fact, if you continue reading through 1 Peter, it is these strange and beautiful actions that will cause others to take notice of Christianity (cf 1 Peter 2:12).
It still is not easy or natural for me. I struggle daily with that inner voice. However, the voice that is stronger is Jennifer’s and Peter’s and Paul’s urging me to strive to be an encourager and focus on others instead of myself. Now when someone is on my mind, I say a little prayer for them and let them know…even though I feel a little awkward doing so. When I am particularly thankful for someone, I reach out to them…even if it seems a little strange because I don’t know them that well. If I get the urge to ask someone how their day is going because I know they have had a stressful week, I do it…even though I am worried about interrupting their day. Here is what I’ve learned in the process: more often than not, people are encouraged and uplifted, they are glad to have their hard work recognized, they are thankful that someone took time to see them in their struggles. When we get over ourselves and focus on others, the difference we can have on the kingdom of God is tremendous. So, to whoever needs to hear it today, my simple admonition is to take a breath, decide to do the good and beautiful thing, and just be weird!