Walking Our Faith: Anxiety and Wednesday night church
Walking Our Faith
I write often about my need to get alone with God, to spend time in his holy presence so that my heart can be filled with peace and my mind calmed, especially in these turbulent times.
But equally important is my need to get out and spend time with other people, even when — especially when — I feel that I just want to be alone.
A week ago, I was tottering on the edge of a depressive episode. I don’t know if it was because I’d missed a couple days of taking my antidepressant medication or whether I had been watching too much political news or too much social media. But over the course of the week, I felt very anxious.
And so on Wednesday, I came home from work and got into bed to take a nap, which in the past has been my best way of dealing with anxiety.
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When I am feeling anxious, dealing with the outside world feels like sitting in a room with the TV turned up way too loud. Instead of feeling better, I feel more anxious and more inclined to withdraw. The terrible irony being that the barrage of noise is coming from within my mind, which I can’t get away from, so I try to quiet it by shutting down and taking a nap.
But that’s the dangerous side of anxiety. Isolation doesn’t work. Taking a nap provides short-term relief, but when I wake, I am just as alone with my anxious thoughts as before.
At 4:45 p.m., there was a big knock on the door. My friend Larry, who gives me a ride to our Wednesday night Bible study, had arrived to pick me up. When I didn’t answer the door, he realized the door was unlocked, stepped over the threshold and called upstairs, “Suzanne, it’s time to go to church!”
As reluctant as I was to leave my house, I was more reluctant to put a pot of chili, which I’d made to share that evening, in his car unattended. So I pulled on my snow boots and jacket, grabbed the very heavy cast-iron pot of chili and headed to Larry’s car.
I was silent for most of the ride into town, after explaining to Larry the anxiety I’ve been experiencing. But two hours later after Mass and Bible study with 14 other people who are quickly becoming friends, I left St. Mary’s feeling uplifted, and on the ride home I felt on solid ground again.
Midweek prayer services and Bible studies are a part of the life of every church. And because they do come in the middle of the week, they’re often overlooked by the majority of people who would rather limit their church attendance to a Sunday morning.
But these midweek services offer very important connections in the life of the church. They are a time for us to deepen our faith in a small group. They provide a setting to ask questions, to spend time in prayer, to deepen our knowledge of our faith.
As important as this is, and it truly is important to ground ourselves during the week and reconnect with our faith, these midweek services are equally important for those of us who struggle with depression, live alone or are simply lonely no matter how many people we live with.
These midweek services give us a chance to connect with a community that loves us and lifts us up and lets us know we are not alone. We build bonds in this community and it becomes another example of God’s love and God‘s provision. It is a place for us to laugh together, to share our need for prayer, a place to share what’s on our hearts and even be allowed to cry.
So I encourage you to go to church this weekend and discover what midweek groups your church or faith community provides. Whether it’s a midweek prayer service, a men’s or women’s Bible study, or a group for community service, find out what’s available and give it a try. If the first group isn’t to your liking, try again. It is so worth it. I believe it will not only deepen your faith but deepen the bonds of friendship within your community. Our walk of faith should be shared.
Note from the author: I often write about my mental health because it’s a subject that others might feel hesitant to discuss. My hope is to destigmatize mental health issues. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, please speak with your doctor or call a mental health hotline. There are medications and talk therapies to help you live a full and happy life. Yes, it does get better.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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