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Social Anxiety and Serving the Church

Discussion in 'Scripture,Tradition,Reason-Anglican & Old Catholic' started by CallofChrist, May 1, 2022.

  1. CallofChrist

    CallofChrist Active Member Supporter

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    I have huge social anxiety. I get very nervous about going certain places or being singled out in a crowd of people, etc.

    I am attending an Episcopalian church and my priest is great. He asks me to do little things like usher or carrying the banner during the processional, etc. He is gently stretching my limitations and making me feel that I can at least do small things to serve the church.

    I have PTSD, social anxiety and panic disorder, so I am sometimes wrestling against them to be social. I love people and I love my church. I just hope I can heed the many times the Lord said : "Fear not".
     
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  2. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I guess my question would be, are there ways for you to serve which don't cause you such problems with anxiety? For example, one of my tasks every week is to prepare the PowerPoint for the service. I'd be delighted if someone else were willing to take that on, and it wouldn't involve that kind of social exposure.

    That's just an example, but most churches have a heap of behind-the-scenes ways to be helpful. Maybe one of those would suit you better?
     
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  3. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    I'm glad your priest is supportive of you. There are lots of ways to serve God in the church that don't involve being super-social or performing in front of a crowd. It sounds like your priest is working with you to find ministries like that.
     
  4. CallofChrist

    CallofChrist Active Member Supporter

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    I should just sit down and talk with the reverend about it. I am sure there are things I can do that I don't know about.
     
  5. CallofChrist

    CallofChrist Active Member Supporter

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    Yeah... our church was closed down except for Zoom services because of the pandemic and has only recently begun meeting in person, again. I want to do things, but I am not sure of where I can exactly fit in as to serving the church.
     
  6. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    The thing about social anxiety is that we fear everyone is watching us and judging us. Truth is, your church is just happy to have you there to help where you can. Do what you can do and avoid what you can't. Church shouldn't be stressful.
     
  7. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I'd recommend having that talk. Some of us understand anxiety and PTSD well, and would be more than happy to be supportive. :)
     
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  8. CallofChrist

    CallofChrist Active Member Supporter

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    Thanks for all of the good, friendly advice.... I will think on it and then contact my minister.
     
  9. SeventhFisherofMen

    SeventhFisherofMen Friend of Doves Staff Member Hands-on Trainee Supporter

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    Honestly I used to be the same way, and not in the same way as in "sometimes I get nervous speaking on stage" No, more like "I get nervous just sitting in a small group and having to state my name and briefly how I met Jesus so much so that I used to have a shaky voice and could barely complete a couple sentences!" This was no small case of anxiety, and this was back when I was about 22-23 years old, I am 30 now and much more confident. So how did I become confident? A few things happened but they were steps that definitely didn't take place in one day.

    1. The first thing was realizing I don't have to put myself in situations that make me nervous, I was in control, God willing, of where I was and what I did, so I didn't force myself to be in those uncomfortable situations any more, and if I did I chose when and I chose where.

    2. The second thing I knew was my worth, it didn't matter how nervous I got when in a public speaking or a social situation when I left that place wherever it was walking to my car or home I knew I was still me, I was still Gabe and my worth was in what God thought of me and no one else mattered.

    3. Third was faith. Sounds repeated a lot but having faith that Jesus was with and around me and no matter where I was He was there too regardless of if I could see Him, and He wants the best for His flock. Faith that He was giving me strength to speak up when need be.

    4. Fourth and last was something I had to realize but I learned this later when I was 29 and that was that you actually don't HAVE to talk every time you think you do. I remembered in my past when people would look at me and there was a moment of silence I thought I would have to fill it, or that they needed a further explanation of things. I also remember at meetings for work being so nervous that I would have to talk that I had pre-typed everything I was gonna say to keep from being nervous. Later I realized when I turned the tables and kept eye contact with people (still struggle with that part) or at least didn't speak when there was a silence or pause in the conversation and just held my ground, THE OTHER PERSON actually would feel the way I did and they started to fill the silence unnecessarily. So I learned to be a lot more empathetic and understanding and reassuring that people don't need to share everything with me. THE BOTTOM LINE WAS: I DON'T ALWAYS HAVE TO TALK, NOT AT MEETINGS OR SOCIAL EVENTS, I GET TO CHOOSE WHEN I TALK AND WHAT I SHARE AND THAT'S PERFECTLY OK.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2022
  10. CallofChrist

    CallofChrist Active Member Supporter

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    @SeventhFisherofMen thanks for your sharing and comments. They seem sound. Luckily, as far as talking is concerned, I don't feel pressured to speak. I just speak when I feel it is appropriate. I could use some work on #2 for certain. Thank you :)
     
  11. SeventhFisherofMen

    SeventhFisherofMen Friend of Doves Staff Member Hands-on Trainee Supporter

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    Thanks for your response :) And I'm sure everyone could use work on 2 we are all so highly valued to God, it's sad that people say that so often it's lost it's meaning but it's true. Don't forget when you are anywhere that seems alone, Jesus is with you and you are so important to Him, He cares about each thing you do, from the food you eat to who you spend time with. Not in an overbearing parental way, but rather as a friend, as Your King, and as your Creator.
     
  12. RileyG

    RileyG Veteran

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    As someone with severe anxiety, I can totally relate. My prayers will be with you. God bless
     
  13. CallofChrist

    CallofChrist Active Member Supporter

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    Thanks for your prayers and for understanding :)
     
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