Community & Anxiety

I’ve blogged about this before, but in case you missed it:  I have social anxiety.  I have a hard time being around people.

One of the biggest parts of social anxiety is feeling like everyone else is in a group that I’m not in.  In my head, when I let it go to that place, I decide that everyone likes everyone else, and that everyone else doesn’t like me.

I know it is silly.  Social anxiety doesn’t follow logic or allow logic.

Here’s the problem.  Christians need community.

I’m beginning to realize something.  My social anxiety exists because deep down I am longing for community.  I want to belong.  If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have the anxiety.

Here’s the reason we need community.  Most evangelism and social justice work happens in groups.

As a Christian we are called to do a couple of things.  The first and most important is the great commission.  We are called to make disciples.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
— Matthew 28:19-20 ESV

Gathering people to bring them into knowledge of Christ can look a lot of different ways.  Almost all of the opportunities I have to be evangelistic or to disciple young Christians have been in groups: Bible club, Sunday school, mission trips, summer bike lunch delivery, and church outreaches.

The other thing we are called to do as Christians is to job of social justice.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
— Micah 6:8 ESV

This season of my life, God has called me into orphan care ministries, and much of our work at my church, Citychurch, involves fatherless children.

All of this work has been done in community with my church and orphan care groups.  Even our adoption that is still in the waiting stages has involved many other Christians.  So many friends and family have prayed for us and participated in our fundraisers.

When I realize the importance community plays in the work of the Kingdom, no wonder Satan would love for me to be engulfed in anxiety.

The anxiety that I suffer when I interact with other people is a huge attack on The Church, His community.

I am convinced (because I get so much response when I talk about anxiety and because Brene Brown is a best selling author) that so many people suffer the same attacks that I do, causing them to draw away from community.

If you are one of those people, let me encourage you to see those thoughts for what they are, spiritual attacks, and inspire you to realize that doing the hard work of overcoming the anxiety is important to the Church.

It has been hard for me to recognize when thoughts during social anxiety are true or untrue, but learning how to separate those thoughts from truth and thoughts that are from the roaring lion who seeks to devour me is important to overcoming anxiety.

It is not easy, but find some wise council that can help you begin to disprove your anxiety driven thoughts.  Becoming a part of community will encourage your growth as a Christian, increase your dependence on God, and your effectiveness as an active part of the Church.

Remember these words in 1 John because it reminds us of the love God has for us each individually.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
— 1 John 4:16-18a ESV
I love music, so I like to include a song with every blog post.  Here's a beautiful song about a guy that doesn't quite fit in with others.  The thing I love about Andrew Bird is that he likes to make up his own words. Why not?