Social Anxiety at Church

The pastor at my church is also the pastor at another church. For some reason, there are times when both churches will get together and have a combined service. I have never actually been to one before because they are always held in the other town and I skip church (I can explain why).

Today was the first time that I have ever been to a combined service because it was actually at our church. Even though it only meant a few extra people since both our towns are very small, I was still overwhelmed.

I do not do well in new situations, especially if I do not have a friend with me. That is why I have never been to church when it has been out of town. My social anxiety makes it difficult to be around people anyway and today was no exception. My friends were not even in church to make it easier.

After church there was to be a dinner. I knew quite awhile ago that I would not go to the dinner.  Not only would my friends not be there, but I do not like eating with unfamiliar people. I end up clenching my napkin tightly and contributing very little to the conversation, thus making me the first one done. Then, I sit there awkwardly, wishing I could leave.

The pastor’s wife asked me if I was going to stay and I told her no. She said she really wanted me to stay and I really appreciated the invite. But I knew that I could not bring myself to do it. So after church, while everyone was rounding the corner where the dinner was being held or hanging out until it was time to eat, I left through the main doors which are visible to everybody. I did not care though. I knew I was doing what was best for me.

It frustrates me that I cannot do something so simple as have dinner at church. How come I am able to do completely useless tasks or memorize complicated yet pointless information but be unable to sit down at a table with some familiar and some unfamiliar people? It is like my brain is not meant to function in a normal society.

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