For those of you who know me in person, you know that I have a strange affiliation with awkwardness. In fact, that may be an understatement. There are times in which I feel that I am the epicenter of awkwardness. Not only are awkward people drawn to me like a moth to flame and awkward happenings always come up when I am around, but I myself am subject to periodic awkward outbursts. (Mr. LIOLI has dozens of such stories...ask him about them sometime!). They are like out-of-body experiences in which my ability to relate normally to others is suspended and I become trapped in a frenzy of awkwardness.
A quick web search of awkward yields the following definitions:
- causing inconvenience; (Me, a lot of the time)
- lacking grace or skill in manner or movement or performance; (Remember when I fell down while walking and broke my elbow? I had no idea that was just my awkwardness!)
- difficult to handle or manage especially because of shape; (Ah!)
- not elegant or graceful in expression; (Finally! An answer for the lifelong question of why I completely suck at sports!)
- hard to deal with; especially causing pain or embarrassment; (Mr. LIOLI: No need for your comments here, despite my previous invitation for feedback.)
- socially uncomfortable; unsure and constrained in manner; (Yes, yes, yes!)
Anyway, I'm writing because for the last four days, I've been at a conference for pastors in which I've realized that my vocation itself might be an expression of my issue. Because so many people here are SO AWKWARD. (Have you ever noticed how awkward the WORD awkward is to say and spell? I think there's a name for this, but I can't remember it.) Now truly, I think most pastors are good people, but a deeper look reveals that many of them, including myself, have an awkward edge that propels them forward in the world like the wonky wheel on a shopping cart. And for some reason, this slight mutation gives people a selective advantage in ministry.
For instance, this morning, when I sat down to breakfast with some other folks, the man to my left offered the man across from him some creamer for his coffee, to which the other man responded: "No thanks. I like my coffee like I like my presidents: strong and black." This was followed by a deafening silence and then a tentative change of subject. But I had an epiphany in that instant that this is exactly the problem. So much awkwardness. In fact, mild racist overtones aside, this is totally something I might say, finding it totally hysterical.
So, I'm putting the call out there for some sort of awkwardness test: like those ink blot butterflies but better to test for awkwardness. This could become a great tool for assessing new ministers and just generally being hilarious. So wake up, social scientists. The church needs you! And I do too!
p.s. An anti-awkward therapeutic technique would also be welcomed.