Social Anxiety

I was invited to a bible study group a few weeks ago. I’ve always wanted to do one, just never taken advantage of the opportunity. I agreed without a second thought. The first week I was invited, I skipped out. The second week, I had a work function that ran over and I got home late because I did not make the bible study a priority. And last night I almost missed out. New people, situations, and environments make us very uncomfortable. That is what makes us human. But when you start saying no to going places because it is easier to stay home or your anxiety starts creeping up you miss out on new friends and a life well lived.

Last night I met up, after feeling very convicted, with four new women I had never met, along with my friend who invited me. I was shy, I didn’t speak much but did try to contribute to the banter and discussions. I began to relax a bit but the anxiety was still there even after I left.

While we were sitting there another woman from church walked in. They asked how her nephew was doing. She began to explain that she was surprised he was still with us. That he was diagnosed with leukemia last year at 36. And suffered some kind of stroke that allowed leukemia to spread into his brain leaving lesions all over it. He began feeling off after Christmas and is now basically paralyzed, barely speaking in a hospital bed waiting for his time for God to call him home.

This woman said her nephew wasn’t religious before his diagnosis but is now at peace. Praise the Lord he found his way. Sadly, it happened the way it did but now he will spend eternity with Jesus. I’m sure his family is relieved. It made me stop and think though, getting caught up in the little things and the day-to-day is so easy. I was sitting there stressing over meeting new people and being awkward (let’s be honest, I’m always awkward) but here is a man who has two children no longer even fighting for his life, and is at peace with it.

It makes anxiety seem like a silly thing. Anxiety is a thief. Ask anyone who suffers from it. Even with medicine my anxiety is manageable but not gone. There is always some little voice in the back of my head saying I am not enough. That comes from the devil, not from God. Anxiety is the devil’s work. We cannot allow it to control what we do or don’t do. It makes us feel inadequate. Like we will never measure up.

Social anxiety especially is not of God. It is of people and trauma from your past. Somewhere down the line beginning when we were children some situations could have been handled differently by adults. Whether something silly was said and the adult laughed AT us or we asked a question and the adult thought it was ridiculous and made us feel inadequate. Then of course, as you’re growing up and going through middle school and high school those other kids who like to dissect everything you say can make you not even feel like a person. Anxiety is putting your faith and affirmation into people rather than God.

We must rebuke this feeling and train our thoughts to go toward God. Allow Him to make us whole. We serve an extraordinary God who does this because he loves us. God has proven time after time with every story in the bible that He knows what is to come and will provide everything we need for His plan.

The next time you are invited somewhere to do something that makes you uncomfortable, take a deep breath, shut down the negative thoughts, and remember God is with you wherever you go so how could you fail? God also tells us that we should support one another and lift up those who are feeling down.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

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