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Breaking Down - For Those Who Are Religious


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For those who practice religion publicly (eg go to church/mosque/synagogue) do any of you feel intense emotion there. Im a catholic and get emotional at mass if I have had a bad week. It's a bit embarrassing, but more I feel ashamed in front of God that I could have wanted my life to end. I have some of these thoughts outside of church, just more intense when there. (I do believe God is everywhere, but particularly there in church.) I'm in the choir which sings sometimes, which can distract me a bit so I can manage. I wouldn't not attend through this, just wondered what happens to others?

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Hey Marie,

Thanks for posting this topic - it was definitely a coincidence! I was just at mass, having had a difficult few days myself, and got a bit emotional. In my case, I start thinking about all my failures & feelings of worthlessness & having no one, and start to tear up. Most times, I can kind of stop & distract myself so I don't breakdown - (being a private & introverted person, I get worried about my emotions when I'm with groups). But for me as well, mass & being in the church can definitely be an emotional time.

Now, I'm not an expert or anything, but I don't think you should feel embarrassed or ashamed in front of God. Those are very human emotions & reactions; personally, I think these intense reactions/emotions [even the ones that seem negative] are an indicator of your spiritually, that you are getting something out of the mass and your faith. I think people at your church who are mature in their faith will understand this, and will comfort--rather than admonish--when you when you become emotional.

Is there anyone at your church you can talk with? A fellow choir member or friend? It may be of some comfort to have someone sitting next to you, even just to hold hands and get you through it.

I hope my reply isn't too far off base; but please know that you aren't alone in experiencing these emotions in church. I'll keep you in my prayers!

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I also feel great surges of emotion at Mass. I usually look at the crucifix throughout the entire Mass as I did as a child. I find a wordless answer here, on the crucifix to the problem of suffering and pain and evil in the world that I find no where else. Sometimes tears come into my eyes although I rarely rarely cry ever, in church or out. Sometimes my faith is very strong and sometimes very weak. But I hang on to Jesus through it all, through God's grace. I don't think you need be ashamed of bringing anything to God even your scary thoughts.

Since God wills your existence in its uniqueness, your life in its uniqueness is already embraced by God's love in its entirety. God has an Infinite Imagination. He can fix anything without harming it in the least. I don't know how to explain this. It is like an artist who works with light and dark colors. The final painting will have both light and dark colors. The dark colors don't need to be hidden or banished from the canvas. They are redeemed in the final painting. God can do this with any life. Or I think of a little flower shining brightly in the sunlight whose roots are buried in the dark earth, an earth full of decomposing elements.

A great artist can create a great drawing with just the darkest and blackest of charcoals. I also think God remembers the trillions of light beautiful things a person has done in life . . . things a person might forget in depression. If God can find even one teenty tiny seed of goodness [and He always can], He can turn that into a masterpiece. Anyway, that's what I think in my own little fallible brain. St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was plagued with great periods of darkness and dryness of spirit, days and nights when she couldn't even believe that God existed. But she went on through it all. Best best best to you Marie! ! !

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I have just read the Daily Reflection from Creighton University's Online Ministries for today (October 27th)

It is by Larry Gillick, and I found it thought provoking bearing in mind my experience at church today. He discusses how we like to cover up the bits of ourselves we don't like, but in prayer God meets us beyond the covering. Maybe when I'm at church i feel relatively safe and I let that covering of "being OK" slip. Of course it feels like that exposes my pain other not just God. Certainly here in the UK people are reserved and will just ignore me, which in some ways is a relief as I don't need to explain the pain, but it also makes me feel very alone.

I haven't put the link but if you google the main words I'm sure you'll find the reflections.

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I'm a Quaker, and most of our meetings are spent in "waiting worship": stilling ourselves and waiting for God to touch us - or not.

When that happens, it can be very intense and sometimes the only response is to surrender and cry.

Usually, your neighbor will reach out with a gentle touch to let you know that you're not alone.

Far from being embarassing, it can be a gentle, intimate connection.

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Rincewind that sounds wonderful. Sometimes it isn't God that is speaking to me - it can be, but it feels more like I'm unworthy to be there or exist. I can even have suicidal thoughts in church, and while I can usually control those in public I often can't at church. I would be happy to discuss them individually, perhaps with the priest or with close friends but the congregation who can sometimes see me crying is wider than that.

Edited by Marie241
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Rincewind that sounds wonderful. Sometimes it isn't God that is speaking to me - it can be, but it feels more like I'm unworthy to be there or exist. I can even have suicidal thoughts in church, and while I can usually control those in public I often can't at church.

Ah, those kinds of thoughts...

I'm awfully sorry that they should torment you in church of all places, but they come when they come and we're not really in control of them. I get them in Meeting, too, though they're not nearly so bad as yours sound. I ask God for help in stilling myself, and sometimes it helps.

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At one point in a bad patch my mother suggested that I don't go to mass. She was not suggesting I stop praying and the priest would have come to visit). I thought seriously about it, but I go to church because I need to be there (certainly not because God said so or a commandment and God does not need me there). If I can get emotional in church (both good and bad) and if I don't battle to control feelings then it means that church is a safe place to let the feelings come out. I am either in a group of friends or at least in a group who share my beliefs.

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Bad at church today - I was treated badly by one of the choir organisers (I'm new to the choir) and was actually crying during the singing which was very hard. I felt unwanted. I think it was worse then that I was denying my right to feel upset, telling myself that I was not being humble or rather like the prodigal son I should be happy that some else was being preferred to me. Looking back an hour afterwards I can almost accept that humble doesn't mean being a doormat or badly treated. Feeling a bit better, it got better through the course of mass. Religious ideas can really mess me up, but they also hold me together.

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There is no need to feel bad in the presence of God He is our father n here for us at all times good or bad. He loves n cares for us though at times its hard for us to accept it, it is for me. I dont know how mass operates but all house of worship should b places where we can cry, either tesrs of joy or saddness. We all go through times of feeling unworthy even to b alive but they will pass. I just went through a period like that but thank God that I feel better

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Sometimes at Church, God comes in just a tear, sometimes in Praise to Him, in a song, in the Preaching of the Gospel. The Master of the Universe settles upon my heart, and still me in awe of His Presence. Even when I am depressed and on the verge of crying in public He comes and still my heart so I find the strength to stay for the whole service. Thank You GOD

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I agree but those who see themselves as holier than thou sure make it hard but I actually think they r afraid. But by the grace of God it could b them n makes me giggle in my heart

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  • 3 months later...

I think I'm writing this to help me understand what happened yesterday and what I want to do about it. I'm not expecting replies or many people to make it to the end.

I went to mass yesterday and experienced intense feelings. I was crying and had thoughts of self hate. I haven't been particularly low it took by surprise. I was at the cathedral for evening mass as I was supposed to be busy during he day. I realise that although I am at mass every week my emotions are in check because I sing/read so am occupied. This is the first time in a while I've been to church just to experience it.

So I need to workout whether it was helpful or not? . I wanted the earth to swallow me up. However maybe God is showing me I need to just be at church, listen to the priest, take part like most of the parish. I do ask God for healing and prescence but I just felt low. After I was confused but calmed down.

On the other hand there are other times I can express emotion and it was upsetting as it was public - I find breaking down in my local church very painful and embarrassing. People would carefully avoid eye contact and act like nothing was happening and that will be even lonelier. My local priest knows I have depression but I'm quite new and haven't really asked for or got support.

I might try mass at my usual church not in choir, just being there.

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I think I'm writing this to help me understand what happened yesterday and what I want to do about it. I'm not expecting replies or many people to make it to the end.

I went to mass yesterday and experienced intense feelings. I was crying and had thoughts of self hate. I haven't been particularly low it took by surprise. I was at the cathedral for evening mass as I was supposed to be busy during he day. I realise that although I am at mass every week my emotions are in check because I sing/read so am occupied. This is the first time in a while I've been to church just to experience it.

So I need to workout whether it was helpful or not? . I wanted the earth to swallow me up. However maybe God is showing me I need to just be at church, listen to the priest, take part like most of the parish. I do ask God for healing and prescence but I just felt low. After I was confused but calmed down.

On the other hand there are other times I can express emotion and it was upsetting as it was public - I find breaking down in my local church very painful and embarrassing. People would carefully avoid eye contact and act like nothing was happening and that will be even lonelier. My local priest knows I have depression but I'm quite new and haven't really asked for or got support.

I might try mass at my usual church not in choir, just being there.

It will be up to you to work out whether or not it was helpful. But in my experience, any intense feelings that come out, are positive, as long as you're in a safe place. I'm hoping you feel comfortable at church and not try to hold back or control it. Because its all about acceptance, right? And love, compassion, community and support. Tears are good. Be well

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I agree but those who see themselves as holier than thou sure make it hard but I actually think they r afraid. But by the grace of God it could b them n makes me giggle in my heart

I agree that it's motivated by fear. It's unfortunate.

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