Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Survival Mode

Have your ever stopped in the middle of some activity that you have been doing for a very long time and suddenly begun to question your reasoning or your motives? You ask yourself why you are attending some regular function or why you are supporting some group or some cause or why you are meeting with some people. Sometimes this questioning is just a sanity check or a reality check. You quickly remind yourself of what you had hoped to achieve or why it is good for you, and then you push off the question or bury it deep enough that at least it won't resurface for a while. Other times you come to the realization that either the activity doesn't mean as much to you as it once did or that your passion for it has diminished. In such cases you decide to make a change and devote your time and attention to something else.

I have been attending services at church for more than a decade. In this time I have been a member of three different churches and I have missed only a small handful of Sundays due to business travel or sickness. I think, for the most part, I have looked forward to going to church to sing, to worship, and to fellowship with the few folks that I know. But recently, say for the past 1 or 2 years, something has been different. Something in my heart, in my spirit, in my mind. The truth is that I have been questioning why I am going to church. It isn't because I don't love listening to the beautiful music or connecting with the truth of God's word through the scriptures. It is my troubles dealing with other people.

My whole life I have struggled with some sort of social anxiety issues. I am just not comfortable in and around large groups of people. As I have gotten older, especially in the past few years, I think my "condition" has gotten worse, somehow more acute and more debilitating. As a result I find myself more and more uncomfortable around others. In situations of this sort, my body reflexively goes into "survival mode", where my mind directs all its energies inward to shut out all outside stimuli. Then when the hour-long service is over, I make a bee-line toward the exit so that I can breathe again and think straight. Often as I drive home, I realize that I did not hear a single note sung or word uttered. Things have devolved so much recently that I am seriously considering that perhaps it is best if I just walk away from church attendance for a while to let things settle a bit.