Five Seconds of Awkward That Could Save Lives (and Souls!)

by Evangelization, Morals & Values, Sacraments

You might remember her from Dancing with the Stars or follow her on YouTube. In this video, Sadie Robertson, a Duck Dynasty family member, explains why “five seconds of awkward” saves lives. But, five seconds of awkward is worth it!

Her five simple circumstances where five seconds of awkward could save your life are great examples—not drinking, not getting in a car with someone drunk, not going farther in a relationship than you want, letting God lead you into conversation with strangers, or refusing to listen to gossip, even if it’s about you.

Let’s take it in a new direction: could five seconds of awkward save souls? Definitely!

Here are some examples of what I mean:

1. Someone was just making a hurtful joke at the expense of the Church. You aren’t sure if the person has been hurt by Church teaching or Catholics or is just being spiteful. Everyone notices that you aren’t laughing. You could:

A. Start laughing and say, “Oh, I get it.”

B. Start an argument and storm out mid-way to make it clear that you won’t tolerate that behavior.

C. Pray in your heart, and respond to questions honestly and charitably, “I’m Catholic and love the Church, so I just don’t want to laugh at that joke. It’s not funny to me.”

Options (A) and (B) might be slightly awkward, but they cause more problems within you or between you and others. They are more cowardice than awkwardness. Option (C) opens the door for conversations, apologies, or just everyone else being awkward now that they realize you may have been hurt by the joke. But, you won’t be the one going home with regret or fear that they will do it again.

2. Take it a step further: You’re in class and your teacher or professor has a whole lecture (or an overall undertone to the whole class) on why the Catholic Church is criminal or God doesn’t exist.

A. Start your own personal war against the lecturer to get them fired.

B. Hide. Become like an ostrich and just hide your face in shame.

C. Educate yourself as to why your teacher or professor might have this view, what the truth is, and seek advice about what you should do about it.

Option (A)’s anger and adrenaline would mask the awkward, which would stick around a whole lot longer than five seconds. Do you want to live with the knowledge that you got someone fired instead of trying to change their mind? Option (B) is understandable (I’ve done it, too!) but not what Jesus would do. Not to mention, stuffing your face in your shirt just brings attention to you.

Let’s just assume we’d all pick Option (C), which has the potential to start incredibly awkward moments when you try to converse with your teacher or professor and choose to follow advice that may take more courage than you think you have, such as raising your hand in class and asking an informed questions that may stump the teacher.

3. Or what about those in an office: Your co-workers invite you to sit with them at lunch. They decide to discuss the ridiculous Christians who “waste” time in church every Sunday morning. They ask you what you’re doing this Sunday because they are all going for a hike.

A. You decide to skip Mass and go with them, even though you aren’t their friends outside of work nor do you enjoy their topics of conversation.

B. You lie that you’re busy and pledge never to sit by them again.

C. You simply say, “Oh, my family and I go to church every Sunday morning, so I won’t make it. Have fun, though! God certainly made beautiful land to hike through around here.”

Don’t skip Mass, don’t go if you don’t want to, and please don’t lie. Option (C) is just one example where you can witness to others without really being uncharitable or missing the opportunity to mention your faith. It’s awkward, yes, but only when you first begin to speak. After that, you’ll more than likely feel proud of your choice. Plus, you might become another co-worker’s ally when you both thought you were alone.

4. One more: You’ve said something rude or careless around your neighbor and realize that you just insulted her. Quick! What do you do now?

A. Babble and run inside where you can cry alone and devise a plan to avoid her until you move to that house you just found in the classifieds.

B. Defend yourself and make your neighbor never want to speak to you again. So there!

C. Apologize genuinely and ask her a question to either change the topic or to talk about the issue so you can learn more and not do it ever again.

Apologizing is incredibly difficult, especially when it’s clearly your own tongue’s fault. It’s awkward and humiliating. But, it’s better to do that and humble yourself than to cover up the situation or avoid it. Maybe, you’ll even end up having conversations about your faith with your neighbor. Who knows!

5. Here’s the ultimate struggle against awkward that Catholics face: Confession. You haven’t gone to church in decades. You read every guide to confession currently known to man and still don’t know if you know what you’re doing. You aren’t sure the best way to phrase your sins to make them seem less “sinful” without lying to a priest. Or you just don’t want to get in line.

A. You feel too much like a child sent to the principal’s office and think too much about what other people might think of you if they saw you there, so you decide to over-rationalize why you shouldn’t ever set foot in a church again. Why risk getting struck by lightning?

B. You go in, but instead of answering the question the priest asked you to clarify what you mean and offer a tidbit of spiritual direction, you decide that your penance will be too extreme anyways and snap at the priest. Since you’ve embarrassed yourself even more now, you flee from the little box

C. You realize that Confession in a sacrament and a “safe space” and resolve to confess your sins without reservation anyways. You expect only to at least get absolution. Even if you forget the Act of Contrition halfway through, you know God loves you and you strut into the confessional – To God be the Glory!

We all have to get over ourselves in some way, legitimate or not, (horror, embarrassment, disappointment with the priest, etc.) when we go to confession at some point, but even if the priest is a hardcore lecturer or falling asleep, it’s worth the awkwardness to free your soul from sin’s enslavement. So just walk in and start, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.”

I challenge you to go to Confession every month for the next year, if you don’t already.

When else do you think we should all face awkward situations for the better of the lives or souls of ourselves or others?

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