A Prayer for Those Who Feel Awkward in Social Gatherings


“A Liturgy for Those Who Feel Awkward in Social Gatherings,” from Douglas Kaine McKelvey’s Every Moment Holy (Rabbit Room Press, 2017):

I know this about myself, O Lord:
You have created me
as one who best flourishes
with daily rhythms of solace
and long moments for quiet reflection.
When I find myself instead
in noisy, crowded spaces
amidst constant social interactions
my energies are soon depleted,
and I am left feeling inadequate,
awkward, uncomfortable.

I know this about myself, O Lord:
in a room full of people,
I would rather retreat into a quiet corner
and flip through the pages of a book
than step beyond the walls of my self
to engage another person in conversation.

And this desire, in and of itself,
is neither a sin nor a virtue, but simply
a description of my feelings—and yet
it presents me with a choice.

For you have not called me
to insulate my heart from others,
or from the discomfort
I might feel in the presence
of acquaintances and strangers.

You have called me instead
to learn to love
by my small actions and choices,
those whose paths I cross,
moment to moment,
in all settings.

And so, despite my shyness,
I would rather learn to emulate your mercies
by entering the lives of others,
affirming their dignity and worth simply
by showing interest in the details of their lives,
however awkward I might feel in the process.

Give me grace therefore, O God,
to love others, to move toward them
when my instinct is to run.

Here is my social clumsiness, my insecurity,
my weariness, my fear of rejection.
and here also is my desire
to be your emissary and your child.
Use them as you will.

You do not call me to be cool,
to be sophisticated,
to be charming, to be the life of the party.
You do not call me to be a social butterfly
or to work the room.
You call me simply to love,
even in my own bumbling way.

Somehow use my very weakness, O God,
in the service of your kingdom.

When I find myself in a room filled with people,
where the din of conversation is disorienting,
do what I cannot:

Quell my discomfort
enough that I might consider
with true compassion
the needs of another human being.

Then let me consciously,
and as an act of love and choosing to love,
move toward that person.
Let your grace compel my movements.

In such moments, let me think less of myself
and my own awkwardness, O Lord,

And let me think more of you.

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