KScience

Returning to church activity - anxiousness

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Hi, this is my first post to this forum.

I have read a number of posts on this forum and have found a number of really supportive members; so am hoping for some constructive advice. Somehow typing to a bunch of strangers seems an easier option, so please forgive my ramblings.

I am a church member but have been inactive for a number of years. I did not cope well with the breakdown of my marriage, did not look after my own spirituality and after a couple of years could not stand feeling like a total failure and every Sunday feeling like I was being reminded of ALL the things  I was inadequate at.   I have always known that the church is true, but felt that I just could not live up to the ideals, didn't deserve the blessings available to others and TBH gave up.  I then gave up on living according to my covenants. 

There have been periods where I have felt the desire to return back to church, but have felt ashamed and unable to face my old ward friends (although as I type I see how ridiculous that sounds and I know they would welcome me back and have seen them do the same many times with other people). A year ago I moved to a different part of the country and unknowingly moved within walking distance of a chapel (not an easy achievement in the UK) and within a short distance of the Temple and have driven past a number of times (which resulted in stopping off and walking the grounds a couple of times). My scriptures have made it out of storage and I have made a selective start at scripture study (i.e. reading favourite passages, focusing on the love of God and his capacity for forgiveness) and I have started a tentative dialogue in prayer. 

So far I have walked to the chapel twice and walked right past, as have been too anxious to enter. I think my anxiety stems from not knowing the etiquette for explaining I am returning to church after a long break. I know that I will at some point need to address a number of transgressions and again am at a loss how to even start to tackle this. I am aware that I am a long way from where I need to be and part of me feels rather daunted by the mountain I need to climb. Having said that I feel incomplete without the church in my life and am determined not to let feelings of inadequacy take over again.

Any advice on how to take the first steps would be gratefully received.

 

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@KScience Very pleased that you are here! 

I returned to church after decades away. 

I had the same anxieties so I hear you.

Here is an approach:

1) Go about 15 minutes early. Enter foyer. Smile at someone. They may approach to shake your hand. You say, ‘I am Sister X, I am new in your ward. ‘

Keep attending. Eventually, may be in a week or several months, the records clerk will approach you and ask the location of your last ward. You tell him but don’t bother with the history, just give the location. They will send away for your records. Some months later. Six months in my case, you may get an interview with the bishop. He will warmly welcome you to the ward and apologize for not meeting you sooner. If you want, you can tell him your story or you can just say ‘I’ve been inactive for a bit’ and leave it at that.

Number One: The bishop and others will be thrillled to have you back. It is highly unlikely that anyone will ask your history. If they do, you can just smile and say ‘New in the ward’. My guess is that the UK is a lot like Canada, low lds density. Thus, everyone will be delighted to see you. Remember the lds church has lost a ton of people including bishops and relief society presidents. A lot of our friends are less active.

it will be a lot easier than you think! 

If you don’t like this approach, we can be more creative! Let us walk you through this! 

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Thank you for your kind words, it is reassuring that you have also been through this.

 

I was aiming for approach 1.......  will try again next week and not stress about not achieving it this week. Trying to be kinder to myself and treat myself as I would treat others!! I would once have been that "someone" who directed the new face to the chapel and made sure they had someone who had welcomed them.... why am I making this seem so much more difficult than it should be?

 

Any additional positive experiences would help to bolster my confidence

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Guest MormonGator

@KScience-

It can be very hard sometimes to walk into a new place, but what is harder is walking into a place that isn't new but feels like it is. Believe me, everyone will be so happy that you are back that anything you did in the past is just that-the past. If you need to talk to the bishop, he's heard it all before. Nothing you say can or will effect his opinion of you.  

Welcome back and welcome to the forums! 

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7 hours ago, KScience said:

Hi, this is my first post to this forum.

I have read a number of posts on this forum and have found a number of really supportive members; so am hoping for some constructive advice. Somehow typing to a bunch of strangers seems an easier option, so please forgive my ramblings.

I am a church member but have been inactive for a number of years. I did not cope well with the breakdown of my marriage, did not look after my own spirituality and after a couple of years could not stand feeling like a total failure and every Sunday feeling like I was being reminded of ALL the things  I was inadequate at.   I have always known that the church is true, but felt that I just could not live up to the ideals, didn't deserve the blessings available to others and TBH gave up.  I then gave up on living according to my covenants. 

There have been periods where I have felt the desire to return back to church, but have felt ashamed and unable to face my old ward friends (although as I type I see how ridiculous that sounds and I know they would welcome me back and have seen them do the same many times with other people). A year ago I moved to a different part of the country and unknowingly moved within walking distance of a chapel (not an easy achievement in the UK) and within a short distance of the Temple and have driven past a number of times (which resulted in stopping off and walking the grounds a couple of times). My scriptures have made it out of storage and I have made a selective start at scripture study (i.e. reading favourite passages, focusing on the love of God and his capacity for forgiveness) and I have started a tentative dialogue in prayer. 

So far I have walked to the chapel twice and walked right past, as have been too anxious to enter. I think my anxiety stems from not knowing the etiquette for explaining I am returning to church after a long break. I know that I will at some point need to address a number of transgressions and again am at a loss how to even start to tackle this. I am aware that I am a long way from where I need to be and part of me feels rather daunted by the mountain I need to climb. Having said that I feel incomplete without the church in my life and am determined not to let feelings of inadequacy take over again.

Any advice on how to take the first steps would be gratefully received.

 

Welcome KS,

Glad you decided to come back. You sound like you are carrying a heavy burden. Glad you were able to unload some of it with us. I am sure the Lord is very happy you are coming back. I am excited to hear you are willing to start making the transition back to full fellowship. I would say just jump right back in. Attend meetings and be friendly. Seek out the ward secretary to make an appointment with Bishop and tell him exactly what you told us. Tell him: this is what happened, this is how long you've been gone, etc... He will help you make a full and worthy repentance to becoming clean and mostly burden free again (I say mostly because life is just stressful by itself, in my opinion) 

I think the hardest part of this will be YOU forgiving YOURSELF. Don't let it get you down. You learned from whatever it was you went through. Remember it took two to tango, so don't blame just yourself for your previous marriage ending. It's in the past, just take what you learned from it and if you want, start over again. There is definitely a time to heal and I think you have been doing just that. No is perfect, don't let anyone try to convince you they have a perfect life or marriage. Some may come close but the majority of us have our own daily struggles. Just remember though, that all of us have the responsibility to make things right when we sin. It sounds like you are doing just that :) 

I hope that you feel better soon and that you take a fresh start with a new perspective on life. 

I am glad you are here with us :) 

Edited by Overwatch

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Howdy @KScience!

I believe that the expression is "the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step".  And it has indeed look like you've taken that first step and several more (reading scriptures, visiting grounds, etc).  The next step as far as going to church is: stepping through the door.  That's the first step, all you got to do first.   The next step will come later.

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2 hours ago, KScience said:

why am I making this seem so much more difficult than it should be?

Our friend Satan is messing with your mind! I felt just the same! Not a single soul was even remotely disapproving of me in my new ward. Not a soul. You are a blessing and you will make friends!

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There is a sign outside the door on every church building that I have seen that says "Visitors Welcome"  This means absolute strangers are welcome to come in sit down and join us.

If we are willing to let absolute strangers in why would we stop a prodigal?  I mean there is a reason the Prodigal Son is a parable that gets regularly taught.

Come join us.  Have a seat.  And only explain as much as you feel ready to explain.  If you are not ready just answer in more detail tell them that you are "Just visiting"  Its true enough. 

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Update...I took your advice and walked in.  Beating heart, sweating brow ignored, remembering your advice and positivity and humming Handel to myself got me into the building.

This week was the week I was supposed to be there.

A warm welcome as soon as I walked in the door as the Bishop,  Relief Society President and  Exec Sec walked out of the bishops office and right into me. TBH I felt a little overwhelmed at this point, but found a quiet spot at the back of the chapel for Sacrament. Felt buoyed by the testimonies shared. A positive message from Sunday school and RS was a task which aimed on us getting to know our fellow sisters so that we can minister well, so a great introduction to the RS sisters. 

 

Such a positive experience, thank you for holding my hand whilst I took my first step.

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Week 2 the return continues......

Well the efficiency of this ward is outstanding; my records were transferred by Tuesday (along with a "you belong to us now" email from the Exec Sec) and meeting arranged to see Bishop this morning by Wednesday!!

Meeting with the Bishop was productive and I now feel that I can start to move forward properly.

Thank you all for holding my hand so far.

My only real concern now is that I feel a bit of a fraud.  The ward have been REALLY welcoming and in an attempt to reach out to me in friendship, I have had a number of members ask me questions that it would be rude not to answer. Example: where I have come from, so have told them the area.  Its kind of obvious I am a member (e.g. still remember words to hymns) so people are assuming I was active and ask me if I know people (It's a SMALL SMALL world) and we have mutual acquaintances that I have not seen in years. 

I am being vague with my answers but feel like I am creating a false image of myself and lying. This is making me anxious.  I am not the most sociable person in the first place and this extra layer of anxiety is making me even more awkward in company. I am not ready to share anything this personal yet (says she oversharing on an open forum!!!)

Any advice would be very welcome as to how to address this.

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Don’t worry about the fraud thing. Tons of people return after a period of inactivity. We are all used to the pattern and most of us have had less enthusiastic periods. You are NOT a fraud. You are your unique self and no one can replace you. We are glad that you are back. If the questions get too much, just smile. 🙂

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Hi.  Glad to hear you love the LORD and our trying to come back.  Do not let the sins of your past haunt you too much.  Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane and the cross for all of your sins so you could repent.  Do your best to repent and follow all the steps of repentance on your sins.  It may take many years to overcome your sins but do not give up.

Neil Andersen said: For most, repentance is more a journey than a one-time event. It is not easy. To change is difficult. It requires running into the wind, swimming upstream. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) … Sometimes in our repentance, in our daily efforts to become more Christlike, we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with the same difficulties. As if we were climbing a tree-covered mountain, at times we don’t see our progress until we get closer to the top and look back from the high ridges. Don’t be discouraged. If you are striving and working to repent, you are in the process of repenting. (Neil L. Andersen, October 2009 General Conference)

Pray for the peace of God to come into your life as you are forgiven of your sins.  The LORD loves you and His saints love you.  I believe in you.  You can do it. 

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Just wanted to say thank you to those who gave me supportive messages and add a quick update.

I am feeling much more positive about everything. And I know I have ended up in the right place for me to continue to grow spiritually.

Lovely welcoming ward, who are inclusive but not intrusive. I am looking forward to serving with these people and getting to know them better.

My RS president came to visit this week and we discussed my having not been to church is a long time. She was surprised from my interactions in RS class and said to just carry on as I have been, but to not be worried to say no to anything I wasn't feeling up to. 

I have had some productive meetings with my Bishop and plans are afoot.

So thank you chaps

:) 

 

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