Agoraphobia is defined as, “Extreme or irrational fear of entering open or crowded spaces, of leaving one’s own home, or of being in places from which escape is difficult.”
I have also seen it defined as a fear of being stuck in a place where embarrassment is imminent, and as a still fairly new Mom, I can sympathize with this particular definition.
Moms are always being judged, even by other Moms. Every single time I try to go to the grocery store or really anywhere with my two boys, no matter how great everything starts off, at some point one or the other will do something to attract the attention of the judgiest Judys and Judes in the establishment.
Because of this, I have found myself staying inside more than usual. As you can imagine, there’s only so long that you can keep an adventurous two-year-old indoors before he starts to let his feral side out.
I used to be generally agoraphobic, to the point where it was debilitating. It affected my social, academic, and working life. I had come a long way since then, but when it’s just me and my boys, I’ve noticed a bit of a regression.
“I plan on home-schooling all of my children, meaning we will spend a good portion of time at home anyway, so we may as well get used to doing things from home.” I think to myself, trying to justify staying in so much. I know that this is my social anxiety talking, trying to keep me out of the general public.
And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think this is the way God intended for us to live.
According to Proverbs 29:25, being excessively socially anxious is a “dangerous trap,” but when we trust in the Lord we are safe.
We might feel like we are helping ourselves by hiding out at home when we are feeling agoraphobic or socially anxious, but giving in to these feelings will likely do us more harm than good in the long run.
It makes things harder on us if we skip classes or call in sick from work because we let our anxieties take over. If we miss too many classes or shifts, it could result in a failure or termination. We could also miss
our chance to be an example before others who need it.
We are meant to let our light shine before others (Matthew 5:16). That’s hard to do if we lock ourselves away most of the time.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
If you’re like me, you could say that, since your gift is your writing voice, you can be a steward without leaving your home. And if you’re like me, you could also argue that you have the potential to serve more people with the power of the internet than if you venture out into your home town.
Yes, the internet is great in that it makes it possible for us to reach thousands to millions of people around the world, but we never know when the opportunity may arise to plant a seed of faith irl just by doing our day-to-day tasks.
All because we went to the store on a certain day, or because we sucked it up and went to class or work. That could be the day we change someone’s life. We won’t know unless we try.
I‘m not saying it’s easy to overcome serious agoraphobia or social anxiety, and it can likely come and go, but as with anything worth doing, we just have to keep trying and have faith.
And I know that bringing my boys and any future little ones out into public with me will be trying in many ways, but I have faith that each of these experiences, good or bad, will serve a greater purpose in the end.
As we all know, nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), but sometimes we might need a little help from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time leaving the house, with social anxiety, or any other spiritual turmoil, I recommend helping them seek professional help, and even checking to see if there are any Christian counseling centers or providers near you.
I will have an upcoming post on my experiences with the guidance I have been receiving through Christian counseling, so stay tuned!