It’s never a great start to a Sunday morning service when you’re fighting hyperventilation and keep telling yourself that you’re going to be strong and stay in the sermon.
I desperately wanted to get up and leave … but there were people I wanted to see after the service… and I knew we wouldn’t be in church for the next two weeks. So I stuck it out. I wrote ‘to-do’ lists in my diary and planned our long-over-due holiday next week. I tried hard not to think about the sermon and how I was negatively reacting to it. I tried to block it, and all the negative thoughts and feelings spiralling crazily out from it, from my mind.
By the time the service was over I was worked up, angry, tense, short of breath, emotional, completely exhausted …
And how do I explain that to other people? Some don’t need to know one way or the other, but I can imagine some people wondering what the flip had me so dazed, tired and disconnected.
How do I explain that? How can I say that I found the sermon massively uncomfortable and triggering and I’m still coming down from that? In what world but mine do hebrew root words, talk about covenant relationships and the umbrella of God’s law set off a panic attack?
But this is my world!
In my world, talking about hebrew roots, the torah, covenant relationships, shalom, the umbrella of God’s law/will, God hating injustice … I’ve actually had to calm myself down after writing that sentence.
Each one of us has our mix of triggers; our own combination of events, words, sounds, situations or smells that will set off a reaction. This is one of mine. Your’s might be another.
It leaves me feeling isolated and alone. I look around me – to the friend to my right who is enthusiastically taking notes on her phone, to my husband on my left who I know is mostly not paying any attention to the sermon – and I’m by myself having my panicked reaction to the words and phrases the preacher is using.
I leave the room longing to express my feelings to my close friend who knows so much … but even this is beyond our shared experience and empathy. I say the words that sent my pulse erratic and it means nothing.
I don’t blame her, I don’t blame my husband – in one way I’m glad they don’t get it! But I’m still here feeling sore, lonely and misunderstood.
Why would anyone get why this was so difficult for me? Oh yeah, they wouldn’t. Because they weren’t brought up a fricking Messianic Jewish Fundamentalist Homeschooled Girl in the South West of England.
Church can be a very painful and lonely place.
I hope that today church was an encouraging and happy place for you!