The Fear of Fellowship, and Two For Tuesday

Welcome  How can any Christian possibly fear fellowship time with other Christians?  This fear is a reality for anyone that deals with social anxiety, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to some, or even to themselves.  It’s about to get personal, folks!  Also, it’s Tuesday, so we have two recipes today, both good for fellowship time…Pepperoni Pizza Bombs and Skillet Sausage Queso Dip.  Thanks for joining me today.  Note–I may receive a small compensation from advertisers and affiliate links found on this blog.  For further information, please see my terms and disclosure page.

The Fear of Fellowship
What does a Christian have to fear of fellowship? Plenty, if they suffer from social anxiety.

Food For Thought  I always wondered when I was a teenager why I would get really bad stomachaches before going to high school basketball or baseball games.  Then, when I was in college, I would have strange and uncomfortable feelings most every time I walked into the campus cafeteria.  I would suddenly feel very hot and shaky, my chest would tighten and my head would begin to throb.  Most of the time I ignored it and walked on, after all I was taught that only people who smile all the time get and keep friends (and boyfriends).  Finally during my junior year, these feelings, along with progressing insomnia brought me to the campus counseling department.  It turns out I was having mini-panic attacks, and not just at the cafeteria.  I was also diagnosed with “high functioning” depression and social anxiety.  Social anxiety is an umbrella term for several different types of behaviors.  Some get shaky and anxious around large groups of people.  Others begin to feel claustrophobic and some fear being touched by strangers in these crowded settings.  I have a condition called Atelophobia, which is an anxiety disorder that is a very real fear of not being good enough for others.  Mostly, my mental health issues stem from this one phobia.  For me, the condition causes me to constantly think that others are talking negatively about me or judging me and feel as if I’m always doing something wrong.  Surprisingly, I was quite relieved to know there was a name for what I experience and that it legitimately causes problems for individuals.  I know there are going to be people out there that think this is “hooey,” including some people in my own family, but as the popular saying goes, “the struggle is real.”  Literally, atelophobia means “fear of being imperfect.”  I have shared in earlier posts that I am working on overcoming my perfectionism, but you may not have known that being a perfectionist can actually be a disease.  So what does this have to do with fellowship?

I don’t know hardly any church congregation that doesn’t engage in fellowship-type activities.  I know churches that have donut fellowship every Sunday morning, some churches have monthly fellowship meals, and I’ve even seen some church buildings that have coffee shops open within them to encourage fellowship in a spiritual setting.  This is a good thing…the Bible encourages fellowship, and we can always benefit from the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  And I desperately want to enjoy these times of fellowship with others.  But I don’t.  I’ve even gone as far as being “sick” on a day that I know a fellowship event is scheduled at church.  Would you believe that I’m at borderline panic attack just before walking into church on a regular day?  I know it sounds ridiculous, even to me.  I know these are the people I’m supposed to lean on and seek help and support from, but it’s so difficult.  I don’t even share all of my diagnoses with people, because it goes back to that fear of being judged for my imperfections.  What a cycle!  Surprisingly, my struggle is worse when I am in a group of people I know better than when I’m in a crowd of strangers.  That is why I can go to large events such as concerts and football games or run in 5 and 10K’s.  Yes, I do have a fear of people judging me in these scenarios, too, but my brain can process that I likely won’t see them again.  Within groups of people I know, whether family, friends, or coworkers, not only do I fear they are judging me or seeing my flaws and imperfections, but I think about having to see them again and listen to their (alleged) ridicule and gossip.

A fear of fellowship can be real for people with certain mental health disorders, and maybe even for those who don’t have a diagnosed disease.  Will I get to a point where I can attend church fellowship activities without fear, dread, and panic?  Possibly, but I won’t be able to do it on my own.  I will need God to be with me every step of the way on my journey to overcoming my irrational fears and panic.  Lucky for me, my God already knows my struggles and provides what I need when I ask.  Hallelujah!

Suggested Reading  There is an Atelophobia information website that gives an overview of this condition at atelophobia.info.  There is other information available on several websites covering topics regarding anxiety and phobias.  Tomorrow I will be sharing a little more information about anxiety and phobias.  Please remember, I am not a mental health expert!  I am not diagnosing or offering any forms of treatment to those experiencing these symptoms.  I am sharing from my own personal experiences.  If you have a mental health need, PLEASE see a professional.

Today’s Scripture  God wants His children to participate in fellowship with one another, so I will work on this in order to follow His instructions.  One example of fellowship I found in scripture is in the book of Acts.  I would like to share these words today:

Acts 2:44-47  “All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Today’s Prayer  My Dear Heavenly Father, You know our struggles we all face and how they impact our choices and our lives.  My God, I ask that You would be with me, and anyone else that may be dealing with similar struggles, and help us understand that we have nothing to fear by partaking in fellowship with other believers.  Help us understand Your truths of the situation over the lies of satan.  Grant us peace and clear thinking, so that we may participate in activities that bring us closer to You and to our fellow Christians.  I pray these things in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today’s Recipes  In my mind, I would be a great entertainer, hosting joyful parties and epic backyard barbecues.  In reality, we rarely host gatherings at our home.  It’s really not that I don’t want to, but as you can imagine from what I described above, I can be quite afraid of having groups of people in our home with the worry that I’m doing everything wrong and that I’m being judged on some unrealistic scale.  But if I were to host a party, we would need some appetizers and nibbles, like these Pepperoni Pizza Bombs or Skillet Sausage Queso.  Food and fellowship are always a great combination!

Pepperoni Pizza Bombs (makes 16)

  • 2 tubes of Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dought
  • 1 8-oz block of Mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 pieces
  • 1 pkg Hormel pepperoni
  • 1 24-oz jar of Ragu marinara sauce
  • Melted butter and Italian herbs (optional)
  • This is SOOO easy!  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray (16 cups).  Unroll crescent roll dough and place one triangle across each cup.  Top each piece of dough with 2 or 3 pieces of pepperoni and a piece of the mozzarella cheese.  Wrap the points of the dough over the middle of the cheese.  If desired, spread a little melted butter on the top of the dough and sprinkle with Italian herbs.  Bake 12 minutes.  While baking, heat marinara in a small pot.  Serve pizza bombs with cups of marinara for dipping.

Skillet Sausage Queso–This is a great queso dip for someone like me, with a tomato allergy, because this is tomato-free!

  • 1 12-oz roll of breakfast sausage (we like spicy!)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 TBS all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 oz pkg shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 8 oz pkg shredded Colby jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup salsa verde
  • Tortilla chips
  • In nonstick skillet, brown sausage, breaking up with a spoon, until most of the pink is gone.  Add onion and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Drain off grease from skillet.  Add flour to skillet and mix with sausage bits and residual fat.  Add milk and whisk until beginning to thicken.  Add in cheeses and salsa verde, continuing to stir until cheese has melted and sausage is mixed in.  Serve with tortilla chips or your other favorite dippers.

Using a nonstick skillet is key to easy clean up for this cheesy dip.  My very favorite nonstick skillet is the Calphalon Every Day pan.  I’m on my second one, simply because I use it so much!  My husband replaced my old one this past Christmas because the nonstick coating had worn off.  Like the name says, I use it almost every day!  (Link verified 10/3/17 at 12:30 pm CDT)

Products from Amazon.com

`