1. When the person next to me in class starts crying. I usually don't know why. Sometimes it's not even during a particularly emotional part of the lesson. In fact, it's in the first three minutes of the lesson and the teacher is still in the middle of a telling a funny story about her kids. This has happened to me surprisingly often--probably a sign that I haven't learned the proper response yet. Usually I don't know the person that well, so I just freeze, wondering if the person on the opposite side will know what to do. I'm not a touchy person, so I am loathe to give unsolicited hugs or arm pats or other awkward displays of sympathy ... and it's the middle of class so I can't just say, "Yeah, life is crap sometimes, do you want to go check the kitchen fridge for leftover ice cream and talk about it?" And what if they aren't even sad? What if they just saw an angel? Should I just force my arm to do the pat? Offer a baby wipe from my bag? Start crying myself? Ok, I'm going for the awkward pat.
I'm in the process of defusing my reluctant hand from my lap when the poor woman gets up and exits the room, leaving my stiff, palsied-looking hand poised the grope her now-absent shoulder. Should I follow her? Should I just stay in my seat while others judge me for not doing more to comfort her? Ahhhh, now I need an arm pat.
2.When someone shares false doctrine. We've all witnessed it. That dear brother in the ward starts talking about how he's sure his neighbor was one of the three Nephites because he saw a curelom in his backyard once (and I know this isn't true because all of the three Nephites were my neighbors in Boise). The room lingers in silence for a period before the poor teacher ends up giving a shaky-awkward "thanks for your comment."
3. Sick/sobbing kids in nursery. Thankfully my day of reckoning hasn't come and I've never been a nursery leader. But now that my cherub is in nursery, I see that kid-provoked awkwardness can be even messier than the adult variety. Sick kids end up in nursery--this is the truth. Parents should know better, but sometimes we really want two snot-free hours so we foist our goo-caked children into the ward petri dish that is nursery. The nursery leaders are the gate keepers to that petri dish and are tasked with the awkwardness of turning sick kids away. When this happens the parent has a few response options: 1) acknowledge that, yes, they were trying to sneak the little snotty in to infect the rest of the children, and dang it, they got caught, 2) feign ignorance ("Oh? That hacking cough must have developed in the last ten minutes!"), or 3) argue that the kid isn't sick, that the green pus coming from his nostrils is "allergies." All of these options are awkward.
Then there's the separation-anxiety child who clings to his mother's leg like a limpet until she extricates herself and flees to the hallway, leaving him screaming in the midst of the other children, who quickly become upset themselves because there is a banshee in their midst. The banshee will not be soothed, he will not be coddled. No amount of goldfish crackers will appease his need for mother. "But how will he ever learn if I just stay in there with him every time?" the mother says. "But what about the frayed nervous systems of the other children?" the nursery leader pleads. What to do, what to do ... thank goodness I'm not a nursery leader.
|A limpet: powerful suction, very slimy, close cousin of the toddler. [source]|
4. When someone contradicts me during my lesson. I teach Relief Society once a month, and I love it. This last Sunday, the lesson was on forgiveness. We got onto the topic of emotions ... specifically anger. Without writing an essay on the topic, I think that anger isn't always sinful because there are several examples of the Lord referencing his anger in the scriptures. I'll concede that most of us may not be capable of a perfectly righteous anger and should therefore avoid anger in any form, but I won't say that all anger is always a sin, which was this sister's perspective. Anyway, this sister is the type who knows her stuff, always makes great comments, etc.... so it was disconcerting to be called out in the middle of our discussion. But I disagreed, and I said so, though in a vague-ish-can't-start-debating-anyone-in-Relief-Society-way. But then I felt awkward, and the lesson moved on and later there was a quote about angry feelings being bad ... so I awkwardly referenced the previous disagreement and said I should do more research on anger ... awkward. But then I came home and researched it more and found plenty of support for my theory of the existence of "righteous anger." So I don't feel so awkward now knowing I was at least a little right. But so was she in many contexts. As sisters in Zion!
Even though it's awkward sometimes, you should still go to church. Even if only to hit sacrament meeting then drop your sick kid off at nursery so you can catch a matinee. Just kidding!
What's your most awkward church experience? Was your righteous anger kindled?
|Angry Moses about to break some dishes.|