But most of our forays into truly social behavior should be tempered with the fact that we rarely interact with anyone but each other while we're out, and we mostly avoid situations that would require the attention of an audience. We may be funny, but I promise we're really only behind-the-scenes amusing. We are not stand-up-comedian material.
You'd think this valuable piece of information would've come to mind when PastorJosh asked us to kick off the Advent season by reading in front of the church.
Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. See, something about actually putting up a Christmas tree and decorating the house after seven years of not bothering coupled with an emotional gratefulness for Ryan's surprise conception tickled something in my heart. So I forgot who I was for a second and agreed to PastorJosh's proposal.
When I read through his email, I felt good about the commitment. The reading was about the light of the world and how Christ came to be a light in the darkness. I nodded my head as I read each paragraph believing Favorite and I would do our part as asked. Still, it never occurred to me that we are the people who light candles and accidentally set something on fire--information that would've been helpful to consider given the circumstances.
I was blissfully contented with our capabilities until PastorJosh brought me the print-out on Sunday morning. Turns out, in a burst of genius, he decided to change the reading to coincide with his sermon.
"OK," I nervously thought to myself. "All we have to do is read. It'll be fine."
PastorJosh calmly explained he would call us up front and we would could take it from there. Our responsibilities were three-fold:
1. Read the assigned scripture.
2. Read the attached information regarding the assigned scripture.
3. Light the candle.
But by the time we were called to the front? Favorite had started to sweat.
(A bit of a side note: Favorite does not sweat well. He only sweats when he is extremely hot or extremely nervous. And it's not a "glistening" sort of glow, either. He drenches clothing in an attempt to expel all water from his body. It's a look-at-the-guy-who-just-got-out-of-the-pool scenario.)
By the time we'd taken the ten steps to the front of the church, the back of his shirt was completely drenched and he was well on his way to changing the color of his jeans. PastorJosh smiled and commented that it was only appropriate to ask us to read given the fact that we were expecting our first child--a son--and during this Advent season we all look to Christ with hopeful expectation.
We smiled, but the emotional response behind the public recognition of our son was already starting to boil.
(Another side note: Favorite and I do not do public displays of emotion well. Because most of our public reactions tend to be socially "off," it should be obvious that emotional outbursts are red-faced, snotty messes. And before you ask: Yes, we are ashamed of this fact.)
PastorJosh handed us that microphone with a smile and returned to his seat. (Likely with hopeful expectation. He should've known better.)
Favorite began to read the words of Isaiah 9.
He really was doing a great job, sweat and all. We'd managed to look normal, and then it hit us: Isaiah 9! Right as Favorite hit verse six, there was a catch in his voice: "For to us a child is born,/ to us a son is given..."
Without much warning, his eyes teared up and he stopped for a few minutes.
Let's take a break to imagine a scenario together. Imagine that the man you love, the one you've worked so hard with to achieve a goal, suddenly recognizes the blessing of that achievement and gets a bit teary-eyed. That would be enough to cause the most unemotional woman to blink back tears. Unfortunately, I'm not unemotional; I'm pregnant. So his pause was my downfall.
I couldn't even stop them. Tears start rolling out of my eyes and my body was involuntarily convulsing. I was doing my best to control it, so it was only a slight shudder every now and again, but I'm pretty sure it looked like I was having mini-seizures.
When Favorite handed me the microphone, I proceeded to read my section as fast as my air intake would allow. We just.needed.to.sit.down. Otherwise? I was going to fall to the floor in a fit of emotional gratitude that likely wouldn't translate to an all-church revival. Trackin'?
Stiffening my body to control my seizures, I got to this portion of the reading: "In times past, we looked forward to God's promise of the Messiah with great hope and expectation..."
The statement itself, while true, should've been a relatively benign part of the reading. But it was hot. And my Favorite was already teary-eyed. And Ryan was there. After seven and a half years of trusting God to carry us. So I really didn't have much control over myself.
I started crying. Not the few tears I couldn't blink back from before. We're talking an all-out-can't-speak-without-your-voice-shaking sob fest.
And when I started crying, my nose started running. Not a feminine, little, sniff-worthy run, either, mind you. It was a rivers of mucus moment. I actually had to take my mind off of the reading for what seemed like an eternity to make that age old decision: do I wipe my nose with my hand in front of all these people and risk the great clinging snot escapade? Or do I just let it run and hope this ends as quickly as possible?
Then, without much rational thought, I wiped. With the hand holding the microphone.
Social outcasts, I tell you.
We finally stumbled through the end of our reading and, looking at the floor, managed to make it back to our seats forgetting the third part of our responsibility: LIGHT THE STUPID CANDLE, YOU CRAZIES!
But given our stellar performance up to this point, it was probably just as well we didn't light any fires in the sanctuary. Lord knows how that would've gone down.
The moral of the story? We will never, ever, ever, ever read in church again. (Make a song out of that experience, Taylor.) And we will return to our hobbit hole where we can snot and sweat in private.
But we will do it with hearts bursting with gratitude over our situation. And we will do it with the realization that hopeful expectation comes full circle in the hand of the Father. We are so blessed.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.7
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.