Membership Musings: Let Them Be Awkward!

By Lynne Jacoby, Membership Development Coordinator

I didn’t have much to say about courage until I remembered an essay by Marilynne Robinson where she noted that for a culture that reveres physical courage, we sure have a destructive habit of ridiculing social courage. This reminded me of a high-school teacher I know who rails against the new trend of using ‘Awkward!’ as a putdown as if awkwardness is a mortal sin in the high-school student tribe. ‘How do they learn anything new,’ my friend wonders, ‘if they are not allowed to be awkward?

I thought of the Alt-Right, a movement that grew (as I understand it) out of a group of anonymous trolls on the internet, and about all the ways we humans can hide these days; from gated communities to personalized news feeds, from righteous to cynicism. Consciously or unconsciously there are a thousand ways we avoid feeling uncomfortable, or unsure, scared or… awkward.

Maybe just choosing to come to church on a Sunday, where any odd stranger might come through the doors and engage us is an act of courage. I know I was plenty nervous when I first went to a UU church wondering ‘Who are these people?’ and ‘How do I talk to them?’

With each new way I engaged in the community, from attending a small group to leading a summer service, brought more jitters. It also brought me plenty of growth, connection, support, and people I grew to trust and love.

Engaging with new people can still scare me a bit, but I never ever think ‘Oh be brave Lynne!’ No, I think of the people who have helped me, understood me, forgiven my mistakes, or opened up to me, and I think ‘Ah Lynne, just have a little faith’.

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