Monday, October 29, 2007

Is it a lack of faith?

As many of you know, I've struggled for almost 20 years with social anxiety disorder. It's a hard thing to deal with, especially within the church. I've found that I am making progress and have hope that someday I will overcome this challenge, but I've also found that I tend to make progress in very small steps. I'm often overwhelmed with feelings of guilt for not getting over this by now, because I feel that somehow it's a lack of faith on my part. I want to put my complete trust in God and just DO those things that scare me the most, but no matter how much I try to build myself up to it, no matter what I'm told or how much I understand logically that I should be able to, I'm still unable to just do it.
I look back over the past 4-5 years and I'm not sure exactly what steps I've taken to get to where I am now. I know that God has been pushing and pulling me along, guiding me to each path I need to be on, but I couldn't honestly tell anyone HOW He did it. Sometimes that makes it hard to really believe that I will keep progressing, it's so hard stepping into the unknown.
Somedays I think of how easy it would be to regress into the safety and comfort of my old way of life. It's easy to stay at home and just read books or watch tv. It becomes normal to not have friends or go out. And it's especially easy to not participate at church. Our entire church culture tends to revolve around being able to speak in public, and I often feel unworthy to be there because I'm not able to open my mouth and bear my testimony or teach a group of people. I have to remind myself that my self worth is not concentrated in this one inability. But sometimes it's hard to convince myself of that. Too often I'm still nagged by the idea that if I just had more faith I'd be where I need to be now.
On the flip side, though, I've found as I've struggled and worked on overcoming this that I have been immensely blessed. I've made friends that I cherish. I've gained a sense of self worth and have felt truly loved for who I am, for the first time in my life. I'm learning to leave behind many of the negative thoughts and traits that have been my constant companions for years. And I hold tight to the belief that God will continue to bring me through this. I'm amazed at His patience with me, and I'm eternally grateful that He never gave up on me. And I'm so thankful that there are sisters (and brothers) here who will read this and not judge me for what I can't do, but will love me for what I can. You have no idea just how special each and every one of you are, and how many lives you bless every day.
If this is a lack of faith on my part, I'll keep praying that someday my faith will be strong enough to finish the changes that have started. Until then, I'm just going to keep enduring and hoping and believing.


Leslie said...

I wouldn't change one thing about you! You have strengthened my faith immensely as I have gotten to know you. Just because you express yourself differently from some people doesn't make you any less special, valuable, or loved!
You have an amazing gift for expressing yourself in writing, and for pondering on the things of the Spirit. These are gifts that are blessing the sisters around you! On behalf of all of us, Thank you!!
I know Social Anxiety Disorder is a real trial and I am happy for you for the progress you've made. I have an excellent article that I will e-mail you that addresses when trials continue despite faith and prayers.

Papa D said...

It's not a lack of faith; it's a physiological condition, probably inherent and certainly learned also, given your comments about your upbringing and your last post on hugs. The Atonement automatically covers ("pays for") any shortcomings associated with that type of issue, freeing you up to work on it without worry over how long it takes or if it even is overcome in this life. That's why hope is such a powerful gift - and you express that hope beautifully.

(I absolutely LOVE the hymn, "I Stand All Amazed" - especially the phrase "confused at the grace that so FULLY he proffers me." I feel like I'm plugging my own blog today, but read the last post on it about the Anti-Nephi-Lehis - particularly the last few paragraphs.)

chelle said...

Patty you have tremendious faith! You have taking steps forward. No matter how small they may feel or seem. You have don it!! And THAT in itself takes faith.
Isn't it amazing how HE blesses us in so many ways we don't even realise. As long as we continue to do those things he would have us do, and though we may not be able to pin point how or when they are happening. They are and will continue to happen!
And like Leslie said I too am so impressed with your spirituality in writing. I love reading your posts. They truely inspire me and get me thinking! So, Thanks!

chelle said...

taken* , done*
Do they have spell check on posts lol..I sure need it!!

David said...

Having spent the last 15 years with you I can tell you you have no lack of faith. The growth I have seen in you is amazing. You are an inspiration to me and many others. Your faith is a source of strength for our family. I don't often tell you how much I learn from your insights, but you have helped me grow in so many ways. No matter what challenges life has tosed in your path your faith is what has help you to perserver an overcome them, so don't question your faith because it is stronger than you may ever know.

chelle said...

aww what a sweet hubby!!
WTG David on earning soem brownie points :D Not that you need them I am sure!

lou said...

Oh my gosh Patty, lack of faith? EVERYONE goes to you for faith and support. We all have wierd trials that we think we should "just get over". I have a huge (even bigger than that)- fear of water. I don't swim, and boats are a problem (you should have seen me on the cruise a couple of years ago). Everytime I get in a swimming pool, I think- what's wrong with me? Everyone else can do this. I know that speaking in public doesn't compare with swimming, but I want you to know that I do understand your fear. You are the BEST - speaking or not- and I have seen changes these last 4 years. Love YOU BUNCHES !!!!

ANTSYLLI said...

Patty, you have soooo many wonderful gifts and talents. I agree with Leslie. I wouldn't change one thing about you. We all have our weaknesses and our strengths. I have to remind myself not to compare my weakness to someone else's strengths. The best part about weaknesses is that they do give us a chance to grow and obtain blessings. Always remember your true friends love you no matter what! I am thankful for being able to get to know you better through Relief Society and now this blogging neighborhood.