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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I come here in search of a little advice. I feel compelled to rejoin the Christian faith in some capacity, but I don't know how, or if it's at all possible for me.

I have gone to church services the past few Sundays, only to feel intense fear and confusion the entire time. Some of it is, I'm sure, social anxiety. Some of it is negative feedback from the religious tradition I was brought up in (and to which I won't go back). Some of it, though, may be valuable and valid fear, fear that tells me that this isn't the right place for me.

I'm having a hard time figuring out how to distinguish between these types of fear. On the one hand, if I'm truly uncomfortable in a religious setting, and it's going to hinder my spiritual growth, I don't want to do that. On the other hand, if it's something that I can overcome, something that is a challenge that could help me grow, then I don't want to cross it off the list just like that, or I could be missing out so much.

I know that going to church doesn't make you a Christian, but I think it helps. I don't really understand why, but I do feel 'called', if you will, to find a church where I can worship and grow. I just am having a hard time teasing out my SA from legitimate discomfort from old scars of my youth.

It's very frustrating. I know that I like more formal liturgical worship, i.e. Anglican, Catholic, whatever. I get a lot out of Compline. But when I go into a church building, I don't know, all I know is that I'm overcome by a feeling of 'not belonging', of being a total outsider.

So that's my question: how do you find your spiritual community? How do you know when fear is a legitimate sign that the community isn't right for you, and how do you know when it's 'just' SAD feedback that can be overcome? I honestly don't know. I thought maybe someone here had some hints or some stories to tell how they did it. Thanks,

- Chris
 

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WB, Frog. :)

It's nice to hear that you are taking the time and facing the challenges as you chart your spiritual growth. I'm sure it's not easy, especially for someone who may have to struggle with SA or depression, to find comfort in a new, and obviously social, place of worship.

I can tell you how I go about finding the right place, but you can take it however you want. You see, I sometimes feel anxious talking about religion as it seems to be a popular topic of contention, and I don't want to appear to be proselytizing my faith, nor condemning those who don't believe exactly as I do.

To begin with, I look at the fundamental beliefs of a church. Are they tolerant? Too permissive? Is the congregation a good cross section of society in general, or is it very limited? I like structure, but I do not want to be controlled. I look for enlightenment in sermons, but I seek tolerance as well. I like a church with various programs and opportunites for volunteering, but I do not want to feel pressured to participate. I guess, in short, I want options, knowledge, and opportunities, while retaining my freedom.

I think it takes time to find the right place of worship. I'd suggest trying maybe 5 or so before you settle on one. There's no perfect church, though, as far as I see it. For example, I'm a moderate Christian, although my church advocates certain conservative stances that I do not adhere to. I don't feel it's mandatory to conform to everything that is said and done in a church, and that, in itself, is a test of a particular church's tolerance. Likewise, I don't expect a church to bend to my way of thinking and doing things. Like marriage, a church is made up of people and can be quite satisfying and enriching, but technically is never perfect.

I also look at a church's style. Some churches are more overt in their worship than others. My style is more of the praying, singing hymns, listening to a 1/2 hour sermon type. I enjoy listening to my pastor and learn from him, although unbeknownst to him, I do not agree with everything he sermonizes. I have yet to agree 100% with any pastor or minister, and I've attended around 10 churches, denominational and non-denominational, in my lifetime.

Since I have SA, I don't fit into an overly social church. For example, while I do appreciate the options to socialize, I do not want to be called upon to give the closing prayer to the congregation or to unite in impromptu prayer circles. Also, I prefer a medium to large size congregation. I feel too conspicuous in small groups, and I like at least to have the option to blend in with the crowd. Maybe you could try out churches of various sizes to see how you feel. And I'd add that you may want to try them more than once to get a more accurate picture of each.

Good luck in finding the right place for you, Frog. Maybe what you seek may not even be a place, physically-speaking, but rather a connection with a spiritual group of like-minded people.

:stu
 

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I don't have any advice, I think I have the same problem. I don't know where to go to worship, there are no congregations where I live that have similar beliefs as me. I was brought up Catholic. I kind of like the Catholic mass to be honest but I think the Lord's supper was originally instituted to be a one time a year memorial(NT passover) which definitely is at odds with the mass which centers around the "Eucharist". Also I don't believe you need to confess your sins to a priest as an intermediary. And I don't believe in celebrating pagan holidays that have been christianized. That rules out Halloween, Christmas, New Years,Valentines day, and Easter. And mainstream society celebrates these holidays more than ever it seems. I do kind of miss Christmas sometimes. I still enjoy the colored lights and the music. I also believe the sabbath is and has always been the seventh day. But they do have mass on Saturdays. I debate with myself whether I should just start attending mass on Saturdays. I don't know if it would work out though.

Having a history of SA and having such beliefs makes me feel even more isolated but like the energizer bunny I just keep on going.
 

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First of all, it's good to see you back Chris! :)

I also am unsure about where to worship at this time. I went to a few church services with my mom to the church that I grew up in, but I did not feel totally comfortable being there. The pastor at the church has been there for about a year I believe, and not too long after he became pastor of the congregation, he sent out a letter to those members who do not attend services regularly. I did not agree with everything that he stated in that letter...I believe that he hinted that you have to go to church to be a good Christian. I do not believe that that is the case. I have also read some of the sermons that he posts on the church website that I am not fully comfortable with either, so I do not know what to do at this point.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, if nothing else, I'm glad to see I'm not alone! :group
 

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Hi Frog...glad to see you back...also was glad to know that you are 'seeking' too...I don't really have any concrete advice...but if you look at it more as an adventure...and not something that is either wrong or right, then you will enjoy your spiritual journey. I haven't gone to church in a while...but sometimes miss christian fellowship...I don't suppose we will find anyone who believes exactly as we do...everyone has an assortment of different things we were exposed to or accepted as our belief system...so i guess it is not so much about finding a place that believes exactly as you do, but the right place at the right time. i once heard a christian speaker say that often as you move into a new level of growth you outgrow the old fellowhip or church...and that is a progession you will have all of your life.....it is normal and good. I don't think it is necessary to find the right church that you will stay with for the rest of your life, but rather the fellowship you need for this time in your life.
As I said, it is nice to have you back... :kiss
 

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The best place is were the Christians have love amongs themselves (John13:35). Were the teachings are bible based(Mark7:7) true faith in Jesus Christ is being demostrated(John 3:36) and faith is not merelya formality but a way of life.
 

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Based on what I've gleaned from your posts, I'd honestly say that I feel that you're definitely not ready for a church that shows any hint of strict conformity, doctrine, dogma, ministry etc.

Maybe your calling would be found in a group, online or wherever, of Panentheists.
 
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