I’m sure we can all think of cringe-worthy moments in our past that we would like to somehow forever forget or reach back in time to physically erase. Memories that don’t just relay the particulars of an event, but the kind that summon the flood of feelings you felt in a moment that revealed your lack of social skills. Perhaps it’s that time you had an uncomfortably-forced conversation with a crush to fill silence that resulted in you asking questions and then interrupting or making a mess of the English language with an onslaught of uncharacteristic grammar mistakes. Or maybe it was the time when you went to pray for an assigned prayer request in a large group and COMPLETELY forgot the name of the person you were supposed to be praying for- a woman who not only had a name very similar to yours, but one whom you had known for a couple years. Ugh…and now, just like that, all the feelings are flooding back. These memories feel “icky”, and so us millennials fear and avoid awkwardness like the plague. But have we ever stopped to consider the benefits of these less-than-ideal experiences? In this article, I will make a case for embracing that which is awkward.
- It makes for good stories
How often do we dislike something in the moment but grow to find the humor in it later on? Like that one time I volunteered at the Special Olympics and a young Olympian (probably around the age where puberty incapacitates better judgment) pulled up my shirt instead of going for my high-five. Extremely blush-worthy at the time, but it is now probably a top 3 funniest memory with my bestie, who witnessed the whole event. The wonderful medicine of laughter is often brought to us by awkward moments.
- It reminds us of our lack of control
It’s good to be reminded every once in a while that we don’t have it all together. When speech comes out in moron or a conversation dies with no hope of resurrection in the wake of awkward silence, the façade of autonomous control is shattered. It reminds us that we are so much more limited than we give ourselves credit for. In fact, I’m convinced that no one lets me down more than I do. And once we recognize our inability to truly control, we are primed to see God’s ultimate authority over the happenings in our daily lives.
- We become more approachable.
There’s a kind of camaraderie that is struck when we are vulnerable about our humanity. Perfectly confident people are intimidating. Us millennials value authenticity, and awkward moments have a way of forcing us to be truly authentic. When our actions admit our deficiencies, people tend to let their guard down because you’ve already broken the awkward ice, thus building community.
- Any kind of inner struggle offers a way to draw near to Christ.
In moments of anxiety over things we should or shouldn’t have said in an awkward moment, we have a couple of options. We could wallow and relive the uncomfortable seconds that sealed our social fate. Or we could give it to Jesus, several times if need be. And then we get to see the healer and redeemer that He truly is, even in the seemingly insignificant stuff that matters to us, working “all things” together for good. (Rom 8:28)
- It produces Humility
We all love to see the arrogant antagonist in a movie humbled by embarrassment. A chocolate shake spilled over their head, an embarrassing secret coming to light, or a climax where they don’t get the girl or the guy all make for entertaining, even satisfying endings to a film. But have you ever thought about how sometimes, maybe God allows awkward or embarrassing moments in our lives to point out our own pride? We don’t like to admit to admit arrogance, but sometimes falls are justified by our preceding pride. The difference, of course, is that God isn’t a laughing spectator, but is instead a loving Father who knows what we need to become who He has designed us to be. Sometimes, awkward moments are exactly what we need to refine our character.
So. The next time you start to kick yourself or dig an escape route, fight to see the bigger picture. Ask for Jesus’ help in the all-too familiar battle of truth over feelings, remembering that he lived our worst nightmare as a crowd mocked Him. All for love. All for redemption, so that all things could be redeemed. Yes, even our awkward moments.
p.s. Thanks for reading!