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How do I not feel like an outsider in church?

Discussion in 'Christian Advice' started by Kepha Mikha'el, Apr 8, 2020.

  1. Kepha Mikha'el

    Kepha Mikha'el New Member

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    I'm deathly afraid of people, due to a lot of experiences going back as far as early childhood. Well, in public talking to strangers I can handle myself very well and can be outgoing. But if it's a place where everyone is in unity, I can't be myself. And I feel the outsider. I don't know how to explain. But even if people greet me, that's as far as it goes. I have no idea how to establish a connection with anyone. I have one friendship but outside of the faith, who I once worked with. Sometimes a friendship "just happens."

    In church, nobody makes effort and I've been told it's because I'm "unapproachable." I am told to just snap out of it. I don't know how.
     
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  2. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

    +7,933
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    I'm an introvert myself. I struggle to be social. I manage, but it's all uphill.

    Now with covid-19 I don't have to be that way. I can watch liturgies from my home parish, from my cathedral, from anywhere around the country and around the world. It's not like being there, which is both bad ... and good.
     
  3. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

    +3,068
    New Zealand
    Christian
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    "Perfect Love casts out all fear.

    In view of your first sentence, meditate on that...

    Pray, seek and fast for His Love to intervene.

    Make this your first priority until you find release.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
  4. Al Touthentop

    Al Touthentop Well-Known Member

    +840
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    Non-Denom
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    US-Libertarian
    The church is itself about relationship. It seems to me that you want that, but are denying it for yourself. Obviously people say hi to you. You could ask them about themselves for starters. Find out who they are as people and then they'll ask you questions. And then a conversation starts and so on and so on.

    Groucho Marx said, "I would never join a club that would have me as a member."

    Maybe you're afraid of what people would find out about you. You have some dark secret that you feel makes you unworthy. God doesn't think so. I bet that neither do any of these people but you seem unwilling to find out.

    This might sound rude because it's blunt but I don't know another way to put it.

    What are you doing there? What did you hope to find?
     
  5. Kepha Mikha'el

    Kepha Mikha'el New Member

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    I don't have the natural ability to do that. I dont know how to ask people about themselves unless I already have established rapport. The few friends I've had outside of church the friendship "just happened." Honestly I have nothing to hide. I feel weird and awkward about asking them about themselves because I don't know what to ask, or how to go about asking. AND I feel like even inquiring about the simplest things are none of my business. I don't feel worthy of their company. I feel close to the Heavenly Father these days but I don't know how to magically have social skills and confidence I dont already have. And past holds me back. Its subconscious. Growing up I've had teachers in elementary school who made me sit alone and watch my peers have fun together. Ive had parents that sheltered me beyond belief. I have confidence now to be super outgoing in public at times depending on mood, yet if there's any sort of unity between others, there's a wall before me that is so high and unpenetrable that President Trump would love to have the blueprints for if it were a literal wall.
     
  6. Kepha Mikha'el

    Kepha Mikha'el New Member

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    So am I expected to make all the effort? Why not those who are already part of that group? I thought churches were supposedly "hospitals for the broken?" Or however that saying goes.
     
  7. Paulus59

    Paulus59 Active Member

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    I used to be deathly afraid of people too, but have improved over the years as I have grown and matured. Sounds like you maybe suffering from anxiety. Don't be so hard on yourself, but give yourself plenty of time to grow spiritually. You need God's healing and gentle touch to deal with your problems. Spend some quiet time with God and don't be frighten to face the truth about yourself and your past so you can process it and deal with it. I believe you will heal in time, if your willing that is, as this is part of your spiritual journey. Keep reaching out to God in prayer and in scripture.
     
  8. Paulus59

    Paulus59 Active Member

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    Not all churches are good, in fact some are down right terrible. Maybe you need to go to a church of a different denomination as some churches can be too legalistic and judgemental. You need to find a church that is filled with spirit lead people that love God and furthermore don't expect too much from people as you will be disappointed because at the end of the day it is only God that can fulfill your inner needs. You need a good friend to help you up and give you encouragement and I pray that God takes you there!
     
  9. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member Supporter

    +2,821
    United Kingdom
    Non-Denom
    Married
    Yes churches/Christians are supposed to be welcoming etc etc.
    Given that churches are not meeting at the moment there isn't a lot you can do physically.

    That said check your church and those round you for an interactive online Bible study.
    If you can find one that idea way of you interacting over the internet with others and to start to get to know them.
    Otherwise volunteer to help where needed, thiscwill enable you to be doing something with others and as you interact to develop friendships.
     
  10. JustRachel

    JustRachel He welcomed me back! <3 Supporter

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    I struggle with anxiety also. I don't think that I would jump in by asking folks about themselves. Try joining in on Bible studies and volunteering to help with church activities. Folks will get used to you and you them. Conversations will begin. We all have a part to play in the body.
     
  11. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

    +24,774
    Anglican
    Married
    In the original post, you told us that...

    "In church, nobody makes effort and I've been told it's because I'm 'unapproachable.' I am told to just snap out of it. I don't know how."

    The reader's conclusion is that there was some reason for the other people to think of you as unapproachable. You then verified that by giving some reasons for it.

    "I can't be myself. And I feel the outsider. I don't know how to explain. But even if people greet me, that's as far as it goes. I have no idea how to establish a connection with anyone...."

    We, therefore, wonder what to make of the turnaround that we see in this later post when we read the part highlighted in red above.
     
  12. paul1149

    paul1149 that your faith might rest in the power of God Supporter

    +4,210
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    In my own personal difficulties, in relational areas where I am very weak and do not have the power to overcome in my own strength, I have found it best to seek relationship with the Lord first (Mt 6.33). In your loneliness and isolation fill your heart with praise and adoration, as according to Php 4. This is positive and faith-building, and far better than dwelling on the negativity of the problem. It gets your focus off yourself and your shortcomings, and onto the One who loves you and who has infinite resources at your avail.

    Don't expect instant change. It's a process, and as it continues you will find that the process becomes more important than the result you originally desired. Relationships can be wonderful, but man's approval can be fleeting indeed. If we are rooted and grounded in the Lord we can enjoy the relationships while not being overly dependent on them.

    Your name means "head" if I'm not mistaken. God has made you "the head, not the tail." Walk in that, with humility, and watch what He will do for you in time.
     
  13. Al Touthentop

    Al Touthentop Well-Known Member

    +840
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    We are not born with the natural ability to do but a few things. You are being really hard on yourself.

    One, you think that because you don't have the "natural" ability to do something, that therefore it is impossible. That makes no sense. You had no natural ability to read or write and you learned that. You're communicating with a lot of people through your unnatural ability to write and read.

    You may not think you have anything to hide in your rational mind. But a person who considers himself unworthy is by definition somebody with a past of some kind that he doesn't want to share. If people knew whatever that was, then they'd flee screaming or something. That sense of unworthiness is not something God wants you to feel as his child. It's unproductive and it keeps you from walking in Christ's footsteps. God said that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. How much are we going to love our neighbors if we hate ourselves? Not much.

    The way something becomes your "business" in another person's life is through mutual trust and communication. You have some sense that there can be things inappropriate to ask about in the first few minutes. That doesn't mean nothing is inappropriate. People like to talk about themselves generally. So asking them things like what they do for a living, what they thought about today's sermon (if you're are ready to actually engage with them on that) or how far they are away from church. Those are fine questions that can help you begin to know someone. But you're going to also have to be prepared to share things about yourself.

    Because a thing is uncomfortable, that's no reason not to do it. God doesn't ask us to follow him only when its comfortable. He said we were to follow him even when people are killing us because of our faith. That's not very comfortable.
     
  14. turkle

    turkle Blessed

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    If you are unapproachable, then it's not fair to expect others to make an effort to connect with you. It sounds like you are sending a "leave me alone" vibe. If so, then others are being respectful by leaving you alone. They have no way of knowing that your unapproachability is a fear response.

    Social skills can absolutely be learned. But in order to learn and apply them, you have to be willing to face lots of uncomfortable situations. That wall you speak of is your self protective safety shield. You will need to crush it if you want to have friends. You need to smile warmly, and ask questions of others even if you initially feel uncomfortable. If your priority is kindness to others instead of protecting yourself, you will see that people will more readily speak with you.

    I always recommend the Dale Carnegie book "How To Make Friends And Influence People" to people with social difficulties. It is an old book, but full of wisdom and understanding of how to relate to others.

    So yes, you have to make the effort. There are lots of good people out there who will not reach out because of your facial expressions, body language and vocal tone. It's up to you to change these things if you want to join a community.
     
  15. faroukfarouk

    faroukfarouk Fading curmudgeon

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    Prayerful activities centering on the Scriptures are indeed healthy.
     
  16. Kepha Mikha'el

    Kepha Mikha'el New Member

    5
    +3
    United States
    Messianic
    Single
    Thank you for your replies. They have all been helpful. They seem to have further agitated something that has been stirring inside me for a couple of weeks now, and a huge amount of weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. This case has come to a close. No further replies are needed. Shalom!
     
  17. faroukfarouk

    faroukfarouk Fading curmudgeon

    +16,300
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    Some ppl seem to be enthusiasts for 'in your face street evangelism' and want to bring it also to people who just want to sit quietly in a service and hear the Word of God.
     
  18. Sketcher

    Sketcher Born Imperishable

    +5,920
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    Not all of the effort, but some. Christians can and will reach out, in a general way. But you have to put in the work to respond. Think of someone extending a hand to you to help you cross a gap. You have to extend your hand and grasp his. Well-intended strangers are only human, which means they relate better to some kinds of people than others, which means there will be some that attempt to reach out to you, who will be hit-or-miss in their approach. The work you need to put in is being able to reciprocate their good intent, even when they miss. That means recognizing what they're at least trying to do if they didn't do it successfully. It also means building on the foundation they're laying for you when they greet you. Besides, it's building a critical skill that you say that you don't have, so that you can better navigate life.
     
  19. grace4ever

    grace4ever New Member

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    Hello, Kepha Mikha'el
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns with us. I am truly sorry for you are going through. These forums are great for sharing burdens, and venting. It is understandable the way what you feel because you do not know how to bond with the people who are around you. In despite of this situation as a Christian I believe God made you in His image and that you are important and valuable person and you are a person worth of dignity and respect. You may have a hard time believing this, but that doesn’t disqualify you from being love and valued for exactly who you are. Let me tell you my friend in Christ, that you are calling to be yourself and not other. The people who want to be your friend will accept you the way you are. Please do not have any doubt of this. I encourage you to discover through prayer that you are so precious in God’s eyes. God loves you so much and He wants to make you happy. He promises you that in Jeremiah 29, 11”For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope”. Maybe as you say in your post this happens to you due to wounds that you have suffered from your childhood that is affecting your behavior towards others today. However, let me tell you my friend in Christ, that fear does not come from God, but it may come from the wounds that you do not heal from your childhood yet. Have you ever thought of forgive your parents, situations of your childhood and yourself? Forgiveness does not mean that they did to you was right but it means that you let the problem go. It is the only way to let go the wounds and hurts by others. It involves neither judge nor condemn to others but understand them. Forgiveness means that we renounce any vengeance, resentments or violence. It is the first step of healing and change and it will restore your peace and joy. Have you ever thought of seeking a Christian therapy or counseling? Christian therapy or counseling works through things like this. You are valuable and worthy of fighting for. It can help you to heal the wounds from your childhood and learn how to connect with others, especially in church. In regards to your concerns about being in church, it is true that its different than being out in public. I encourage you to search for volunteer ministries, Bible study group, charitable organizations, and see what may interest you. Do not feel discourage! Hang in there! Please have courage, take the first step to consider taking part in a ministry or volunteer job and hopefully you can find someone in the Church to make friends with. Hope this helps. Sending you hugs. I will keep you in my prayers my friend in Christ.
     
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