Hiding From MySelf

Community

Attending church is a nightmare for someone who struggles with social anxiety.

It’s the before part: will someone say hello? What if someone DOES say hello? Where do I sit?

It’s the passing of the peace: The Lord Be With You, and Also With You. Do I have to initiate? Am I saying the words correctly? Do I sound nervous? Do I look like a loser? Can I sit down now?

Communion: Am I sorry enough? Am I grateful enough? Do I have to stand in line? What if I don’t know what to say to the communion minister? What are the right hand gestures? Oh, I can’t take communion if I’m not baptized? Are people going to look at me weird, & judge me because I can only receive a blessing? What if I don’t go up at all? Then people will wonder, “What mortal sin did she commit that she can’t receive communion nor a blessing?” Will people trip on me as I sit down, though they need to pass me in the pew to get to the communion line?

And the after: where is the nearest exit? Can I escape now? Do I have to make small talk? I hate small talk. I’m not good at small talk.

Then you get to repeat it every Sunday.

It’s exhausting.

There are so many reasons why I’ve stayed away from church. It’s the mind games I play with myself: the self-judgment & the perceived outside judgment of others.

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But, really, it’s about hiding.

Hiding from myself.
Hiding from God.
Hiding from community.

And yet there is a longing.

To be known. Fully.

I’m entering a new stage in my life. I can’t hide behind my body. Or maybe I just don’t want to. Maybe I’m realizing that there is more to me than just this earthly shell.

Community: it terrifies me and yet I crave it so deeply.

I read a book by John Ortberg many years ago titled Love Beyond Reason. It was during a time when I was so filled with self-hatred. There was a quote that really stuck with me,

“You will seek me, & find me when you seek me with all your heart,” God says. But that is not the whole story. I’m not just a searcher. I’m also a hider. You too. We have to come face-to-face with our tendency to hide, to get lost.”

For so many years I’ve stayed hidden.
Away from Church.
Away from my Self.
And away from God.

I hide from God because I doubt His plan for my life. I have a false belief that surrendering to His plan means staying fat, dull, and single. Even as I write this, I kind of chuckle a bit out loud. I would think that the Lord God Almighty might have a bigger plan than that. I blame God for my circumstances, even though my sin nature is very much a part of my current circumstances.

It comes down to my view of Self, which is that there is something inherently very wrong with me. I’m not talking about a sin nature here. Or salvation. My view of Self is that I was created wrong, or what I perceive to be wrong, that God may see as right.

How can I learn to see what He sees, and latch on to that?

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10 Responses to Hiding From MySelf

  1. Michele says:

    This is pretty powerful in a number of ways. Passing the Peace is definitely awkward.

  2. beverlydame says:

    Here’s the deal. People in church want you at church. I know. I’m there and I have the same kind of social phobia and anxiety. I’d welcome you at coffee hour. Don’t believe I’m saying this but Jesus is all about unconditional love and while a church isn’t the only place you can find that, it is a good place to start. Besides, we love having new people to help us do the work. And you can lose yourself in the rituals and discipline. Come on down!!

  3. Marnie Burton says:

    Try to forget about yourself when you are in church and listen to the words. If you open your heart and mind to the words of the Lord you will be filled with unconditional love for yourself and others. It takes practice and some determination but it will help you be more peaceful.

  4. Thanks for sharing this bit of yourself with us. I, too, struggled to find a church in which I felt comfortable, though not necessarily due to social phobia — just this sense that everyone was looking at me and judging me. I just decided to try different churches until I found one where those in the pews were as “beautifully messy” as me and showed me the kind of unconditional love that Jesus showed all he met. Thinking of you as you continue on this part of your journey.

  5. Agana says:

    You should read “Healing the shame that binds you” by John Bradshaw. It is a very good book.
    Meaningfulness in 2013!

  6. Jasmine says:

    Man! I have felt this SAME way. It is so hard.

  7. Kim says:

    There are no words to express how this post resonates with me! I thank you with my whole heart. I hide. I seek. I am broken. I feel like I was made wrong?? When I know that God, our heavenly father made me perfect. I want to heal. I don’t want to view myself in my head as broken anymore. It is the surrending to it that is the hard part. What a blessing stumbling over your blog has been to me today…not an accident.

    • I totally identify with what you are saying about feeling like you were made wrong. I have parts of me that feel that there is something inherently wrong or bad about me, too. But that is not God’s voice, it’s someone else’s.

      • Kim says:

        And for me…Life is like a rehearsal. A rehearsal for what my “perfect” self will do perfect tomorrow. Acceptance is the key for me I feel. Accepting that I am good enough. I am worthy of going here or there. I am worthy of going to a church and being accepted into the “LOOP”. Me. Just like I am. No more dress reharsals. Just go with the release of knowing I am worthy. No more hiding.

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