For many years, I’ve looked forward to Sundays. It’s the day of the week when I’ve been able to come together with my church family for a few hours of fellowship and worship. It’s been a time of joy for me for a long time.
But then we moved.
I said goodbye to my church family, knowing I would have to start all over with a new church family. I’ve done this many times before, but it seems harder this time. Not only do we have all the weirdness of COVID to deal with, but I have my own personal issues and baggage to handle, as well.
See, I’ve always dealt with social anxiety. At times it’s been nearly crippling. At other times, I’ve managed to push right through it and go about the business of being social anyway. Right now, I’m somewhere in the middle.
My guess is that, if I didn’t tell you that I have major social anxiety, you’d never know. You wouldn’t know that I feel so awkwardly out of place sometimes that I just want to crawl into a hole and never come out. You’d never know that I don’t like going into stores because I feel like everyone is staring at me. You’d never know I won’t get up and walk across a room full of people unless it’s an emergency because it will draw attention to me. You’d never know I have trouble eating in front of people. You’d never know that my heart pounds at the thought of speaking up in class. You’d never know because I’m really good at hiding it.
Back to Sunday. Our service this last Sunday was beautiful. It focused on the body of believers, and those who lead us, as family. There was talk of the many years of service that have been accumulated between the ministry team. It was a lovely tribute to them, and a beautiful statement about the church family itself.
But as I sat there, tears began to roll down my cheeks.
That awkward feeling of being out of place and not belonging began to creep up again. I’m new here. I haven’t shared in the years of togetherness and family with this church that was being talked about. I felt like a foreigner.
And the thing is, there is no telling how long I will feel that way. What I haven’t said about my social anxiety is that it keeps me from talking to you. It keeps me from introducing myself to you. It keeps me from joining a group conversation. It keeps me from getting to know people and making friends.
So, how will I move past this awkward stage where I feel like I don’t know people? How will you know that I have my head in my phone because I don’t want to sit here all by myself with no one to talk to, but I don’t have the courage to talk to you first? How will you know that I’m lonely and wishing I had a friend?
I don’t know the answers. I just know that living with social anxiety is tough.