Summer Olympics and Social Anxiety
Just the other week we were mesmerized by the amazing athletes of the Summer Olympics. Every chance I had to watch an available TV, my eyes were glued to the disciplined men and women in their various competitions. I can’t image being in an environment where 100’s if not 1,000’s of languages were spoken. So many people. So much confusion by all the various languages. I can already feel my social anxiety pour over me like hot syrup.
The Day of Pentecost
The gathering of so many different languages at the Olympics every two years for the summer and winter games reminds me of the Day of Pentecost presented in the book of Acts Chapter 2. Just as the gathering of many people of numerous languages can easily come together today and celebrate, God can use the diversity of languages to glorify Himself.
The disciples of Jesus and a group of believers who were all Galileans were filled by the Holy Spirit and was enabled to speak in different languages on that day of Pentecost. A very large crowd had gathered together in the city since it was the celebration of a feast of the Jews. The large crowd who had gathered together were men who spoke many different languages. When they heard the disciples and the believers, they were able to understand what was being said by the Holy Spirit in their own native tongue. Oh, to be able to communicate globally without a language barrier.
Reality sets in for me and my bipolar mind. I think that if I were at the Olympics, I would be so paranoid the whole time and paralyzed with fear that I would never step outside of the hotel. I would be so overwhelmed with all those people speaking different languages. And if I were at Pentecost, it would have to take a supernatural bulldozer to get me to act accordingly to God’s will. (I really hate to admit that one.)
As someone who battles with social anxiety and paranoia, I have difficulties in large and small groups. Social functions are a nightmare. Going to places like church and to the mall are death traps. I get overwhelmed by all the people there. I cannot make eye contact of which I used to be able. Often I feel like the walls are closing in on me. In settings where there are conversations, I never know what to say and am usually too caught up with what I am going to say next that I miss out on the conversation all together or when I talk, my speech does not come across as natural.
Free from Social Anxiety and any other Anxiety
There was a time that I was not like this. I eagerly went to concerts, easily made new friends, freely went to church to worship, and readily went to family functions. Before the bipolar took over, I would have been the first one to get to the Summer Olympics and be the last one to leave. And I would try to learn some different languages, too while I was there.
I have my moments when the social anxiety is not as prevalent or is completely absent. That is when I rejoice. That is when I know I am in recovery. I am able to have conversations with people where my office is located. I can smile and speak however long the conversation lasts. I keep working by simply staying in the game and not giving up.
In looking at the Day of Pentecost, God performed a miracle. There were 100’s if not 1000’s of men there that day with countless different languages. God had a message to leave with the people and he did not let language be a barrier.
I know God has some big plans in store for me. Social anxiety or not, the Creator of the Universe is not going to allow my mental health to get in the way of His plans. He will use my mental illness to show the world who He is just like He used the tongues of the disciples and believers on Pentecost to speak truth and life.
Tips to Conquer Social Anxiety