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My problem with church
September 25, 2008
11:28 pm
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soofoo
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I am a Christian, but I pray alone and don't have the spiritual community I'd like to have. I'd like to go to church. A church. It doesn't have to be perfect and I don't have to agree with everything the minister says. But I would like to belong somewhere.

The problem is the way I react to church service. I cry. It's really uncontrollable. At Catholic (I was baptized Catholic) and Episcopal mass (they are very similar) I always cry when they do the "gifts". When the priest rings the bell and blesses the Body of Christ, I begin sobbing. If it was just a gentle crying, that would be easier. But it never is. It's a sobbing, messy crying requiring nose blowing and the whole 9 yards. It continues usually until way after I have received communion, close to the end of mass. It's the kind of crying that causes big puffy eyes. It is extremely embarrassing for me. Many times people will ask me what is wrong, and I can't tell them because there isn't anything wrong, this is just the way I react to mass. I have absolutely no control over this. I just hang my head down and try not to disturb people.

It has happened at other types of service too. I attended a Methodist church for a little while and found that I did not cry every time. They did not have communion all the time though.

The crying is definitely cathartic. But it is also so embarrassing to me, and it makes me feel very socially awkward. I have no trouble making friends otherwise, but I feel like everyone must think I'm a total wacko at church.

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

September 26, 2008
12:07 am
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WizardofAus
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I think the right congregation will encourage you to sit gently with your feelings, whatever they may be. You are not hurting anyone else and if that is what you are feeling, then so be it.

If people ask you if you are ok or if they can help, just be genuine in your answer. If you want to be left alone, say so, or if you would like to talk about it then ask for help.

I always thought that church was somewhere to go when you needed to feel better not appear better. There may be congregations where this is not so, but that says more about them than it does about your behaviour.

Just tell them that feelings are healing.

I had a girlfriend once who used to sob like a widow after we made love. She assured me that it was nothing I had said or done. After a while, it just felt quite natural; I learned to keep a spare hankie ready. She never did tell me why she was crying, so I just let things be as they were meant to be.

September 26, 2008
8:09 am
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thewall
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Wizard,
lol, its a release of the hormones that makes her cry. She had no mental "reason" for crying. I took a health class that talked about this very situation. Many women cry after a good hard "O", or many "O's". Its so very relaxing.
So please, by all means, take that as a compliment. You gave her a run for her money big guy 😉

soofoo, it sounds as if the way they do the communion ceremony is what gets you going. So perhaps go to a church that has less traditional services, like that Methodist church you mentioned. ??

In a way it would be very similar to avoiding certain sad songs. You shouldnt avoid all songs or music but only the ones that make you sad...until you can get to a place in your life where you have overcome whatever situation you are in.

I had to avoid a Christmas program right after mom died. But now I am able to go and enjoy them. I hate to hear you avoiding ALL churches though. Dont fall into the "all or nothing" trap of thinking.

Just some ideas.

September 26, 2008
10:23 am
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bevdee
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Wall says = "In a way it would be very similar to avoiding certain sad songs" Maybe it's the music. I cry at certain gospel music. A trigger. Or a flipswitch.

September 26, 2008
3:11 pm
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lovin life
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hi soofoo:

i go to church every weekend. i am lucky enough to have found a great place to go, with a wonderful pastor.

anyway, for a long time, i always cried in church. it bothered me because i would cry even if i didn't particularly feel like there was anything wrong at the time. i wrote it off to stress, or triggers from childhood going to church with my family.

you know what? since i separated from my husband in march...i have only cried once in church. and it was because of deaths in my family...a specific reason.

i sit there now each week (with my ex still sitting next to me) and i don't cry. i realized that this is because i am happy. i am free. i actually find myself smiling, instead of crying.

sometimes we don't know what's wrong, until it isn't wrong anymore. then we look back...and see.

lovin

September 27, 2008
1:47 am
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soofoo
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Wiz,

Thank you. I love what you wrote. Your girlfriend was lucky to have you with your hanky. First hanky-panky, then hanky, lol. I have had that kind of crying too. It's very similar to the church crying. The church crying is more intense though and more embarrassing because I'm in public.

Thewall and lovin,

There is no sadness, just sobbing. And I always feel loved and better and a little tired after. But I might go to a service with less communion, if that does it. I'm not sure. If I overlap it with my general happiness or unhappiness in life, I might see a connection. But this is very hard for me to do. It's very hard to know what I was thinking and feeling, even 3 months ago. I read what I wrote then and I don't even get my train of thought, or remember events unfolding that way. There is a change in my perception of my life. And I guess I really do forgive and forget.

I know that I am more unhappy lately, and probably depressed. There is a general instability in me.

September 27, 2008
12:09 pm
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StronginHim77
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I pastor a small church where we always welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit. When He shows up, it is not uncommon for some to grow peacefully still, (nearly asleep), some to laugh, some to smile gently and quietly, some to weep openly. We are so accustomed to this that no one thinks anything of it.

When someone weeps, we will frequently gather around that individual and pray for him/her, until he/she has "breakthrough" and the weight on his/her heart is lifted.

So, I would encourage you to seek out a "Spirit-filled" church where emotional healing is addressed in calm, welcoming, peaceful terms.

- Ma Strong

September 27, 2008
2:02 pm
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soofoo
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Thank you Ma, I was hoping that you would respond.

I will take your advice. I have seen signs on the road for "spirit-filled" service.

I wonder if my weeping is a bottomless pit.

I once went to a church service (about 10 years ago) during which my teeth began chattering and I shivered uncontrollably. I was not cold. I secretly thought it might mean that I was evil. I had read (in revelations?) something about the chattering of teeth in hell.

I certainly want to be completely open to the Christ. If there is healing to be done, I want the Christ to do it.

September 28, 2008
2:07 pm
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StronginHim77
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Teeth chattering is NOT a sign of "evil" indwelling, but a very common physical response to the Holy Spirit's tangible Presence. Seek out a gathering where this is understood and where your heart issues will receive the compassionate ministry they deserve.

- Ma Strong

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