Sunday, August 11, 2013

Feeling unaccepted

Strange to be writing here. The only things I've posted lately are copies of my Monday morning Reflections on Scripture that I email out every week. But this afternoon there's something I feel I want to talk about that might not be as uplifting as those devotionals are intended to be. I'll write here and leave this out of my Monday mailings.

It's Sunday afternoon and I've been hurting ever since I came home from church. The pain isn't as bad as it sometimes is, nevertheless, I'm certainly not happy. I often come home feeling this way for one reason or another and I don't know whose fault it is. Although I love church, at times I don't feel loved or accepted. It seemed like no one wanted to talk to me today. I felt on the fringe...left out.

I've always said that my church is very accepting of people with mental illness, and I believe it is. So maybe the problem comes from within me. Maybe I wouldn't feel this way if I took the initiative to go up to people and make them feel comfortable talking to me. But I have trouble doing that - especially when my mood is slipping downwards, which it may be right now. I'm not a natural at making small talk.

Interestingly, I've received many emails from people with these kinds of feelings coming up in church. In most cases, they felt that there was an unfriendliness and lack of acceptance because they had mental health issues. Many people in church don't know how to approach people with such problems. There is a fear. Add to that the lack of understanding and belief that these problems are spiritual in nature, and it makes a very uncomfortable climate for people with mental illness. Often they are even shunned. It's very difficult to find a church they can come to consider home.

I wonder too if people with our disorders have social problems as a result of what we deal with. Stigma causes a lot of damage. Not only do people who don't have an understanding think ill of us, but often we think ill of ourselves. And thus we're probably more sensitive than we should be. If we could only walk up to someone with our hand outstretched, a big smile on our face, and ask how they are...totally confident about who we are as a person.

I don't know what the answer is in terms of finding a church where we'll feel at home. But we shouldn't give up looking. When I started going to my church I went prepared to educate, starting with the pastor, then my Bible study group, and gradually others. I spoke in church a few times, explaining what it was like to live with bipolar disorder. I told the congregation how God helped me cope with the symptoms and how He strengthened me.

So...what happened today? Maybe it was all my own doing. Maybe I longed for someone to talk to me but wasn't up to do the same for them. Maybe it's the result of getting less than six hours of sleep a night for over a week. Yup, I think I have a mood issue here.

If you deal with a mood disorder and would like to receive my Reflection on Scripture that I send out every Monday, you can sign up at

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