Awkward is the new normal, or even the new cool. Over the past several years, a young, self-deprecating generation has declared everything awkward: their favorite TV characters, family photos, uncomfortable interactions, themselves. “Socially awkward,” “that’s so awkward,” and “that awkward moment when…” have surged in Google trends as common (and overused) catchphrases.
But for Sammy Rhodes, awkward isn’t merely a buzzword to claim. The college minister knows awkwardness at its deepest and darkest. He’s lived it personally—including when a 2013 controversy over his popular Twitter presence as @prodigalsam pushed him offline and into an identity crisis.
Rhodes, the dad and seminary grad who leads Reformed University Fellowship at the University of South Carolina, returned to Twitter the following year with a new sense of self. He went on to write about God’s power in unbearable times in This Is Awkward (Thomas Nelson, 2016).
“Awkwardness is an invitation to be found. It’s an invitation to vulnerability, and vulnerability is where intimacy and connection are born. It’s also an invitation to throw yourself on the grace that makes vulnerability possible at all,” he writes. “At the end of the day, awkward people are the only kind of people God loves; because awkward people are the only kind of people there are.”
Last month, Rhodes spoke with another Christian humorist who knows the trials of Twitter pressure and the struggle of starting again, Jon Acuff—author of the book Do Over. A condensed version of their conversation appears below.1