Surviving Coffee Time

introvertI love church.  And I love coffee. But post-church coffee? Terrifying.

It’s not the people.  Individually, they are LOVELY.  But there’s something about a group. In a small area.  Trying to talk to one another at once.

Something that makes me want to stuff my fingers in my ears and lie down in a darkened room.  On an island. In space.

You’re trying to connect deeply/make small talk but Billy is practising on the drums and you can’t remember that lady’s name even though you’ve asked it twice already.

You’re trying not to squash a small child/catch three people you really have to see/avoid someone you don’t. A friend who’s on the verge of tears, is trying to talk to you, but so is Mrs S, who is chatting over her regardless and introducing you to Someone Else From Ireland. In the meantime, the newcomer who wants to know more about Jesus has left and you’re still carrying Jane’s casserole dish from two month’s ago.

Your smile is starting to twitch. Everyone else seems to be deep in meaningful conversation/laughing uproariously. Your child (who has wet herself) is screaming/making for the exit/stuffing chocolate bourbons in her eyes/asking why that man smells funny. You’re desperate for coffee and the loo but there’s a queue for one and the other is out of order.

You can see the exit but there are four people in the way, two of whom need to speak to you urgently about The Rota. Your blood sugar is dropping and the roast is BURNING and you don’t even like chicken but it’s SundayandonSundayYOUHAVECHICKEN.

When you do get out (after the buggy gets stuck and they’ve turned out the lights), you realise you’ve lost your keys and it’s starting to rain. So, you decide to become a hermit and never go to church again.


You pray about it in advance.  You ask God to go ahead of you and you entrust your time and conversations to Him.

You set yourself realistic expectations.  You will not be able to catch up with the five people you’d planned to.  But with a bit of prayer, you’ll have one good conversation. Brilliant!

You refuse to caricature other people.  In those large groups are small groups which you can manage.  Strangers you want to meet.  Friends who love you and who you love back. People who will help you see the world with different eyes. Folks who are like you and folks who are different.  Divine appointments that you don’t need to manage.

You refuse to beat up on yourself.  It’s been a long week and you’re tired.  But you’re here and that’s great. You’ve spent time listening to God’s word and meeting with His people.  Everything else is a bonus.

You try to keep a sense of humour. You are honest about your struggles with a few close friends and you are (appropriately) real with others. You talk about what helped you from the sermon: and you ask others what helped them.

You forget about cooking chicken or develop a taste for it extra-crunchy.


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12 thoughts on “Surviving Coffee Time

  1. It’s not just you!

    I went with a church plant maybe to get to know new people, and for a while it worked but now they all know each other so I’m left wandering in and out of conversations trying to join in but also being terrified of joining in and mostly just feeling awful and lonely and panicked. And then dreadful that I’m a failure. And I don’t pray about it because part of panicking is running and that includes from god and basically I’m not sure why I go to church anymore.

    I’m tired and poorly and shouldn’t really be on the internet but it was such a good post and so real and for a moment there was hope/light/something out there.

  2. I struggle with it. I usually end up supervising the children because no one talks to me, but supervising the children *means* no one talks to me. It’s a vicious circle.

  3. Oh me too – with bells on! Feel lost and like a spare part often, with everyone else seemingly chatting effortlessly all around me!My fault not theirs, but boy it can be hard to make the effort sometimes, especially when the black dog is biting at your heels!

  4. Hi S,
    Well done for making it to church – it’s exactly the place to be, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I always think ‘As much as I struggle to be with people right now, I’d struggle even more by myself and if I stayed away I’d have no-one to lift me out of myself.’ It’s not just you that runs when you’re scared – we all do – but God’s love remains the same. I’ll pray for the hope/light/something (/Jesus!) to dawn again. X

    Thanks Lucy and Nicky – good to know I’m not alone!

  5. Emma!

    I laughed when I read the first part of this because it is just so SO true! I like coffee… in fact, I might even say that I LOVE coffee…. and there are some lovely LOVELY people in the church I’ve recently started going to (breaking news… After avoiding the place & situations you describe so well for a good few years…).
    And, you’re right (you always are). The perfect thing to do is to pray before you go, and then to trust.
    I’ll do that on Sunday! Mind made up! Thank you!


    (and… lucky for me… I like my chicken ‘well done’)

  6. What can I say Emma. My life is like that everyday of the week, not just Sundays. I say my prayers everynight, I take my medication day and night, but still the panic sets in. Life is terryfying when you have social anxiety as I do. The panic attacks start to happen the moment you ger out of bed or even when the alarm goes off. The deep breaths dont always help. Talking to God doesnt always help, it should but there are times when you feel like even he’s given up listening. Ive followed God for as many years as I can remember well over 35. I cant deal with groups, having hearing problems doesnt help it just adds to the constant ear bashing that goes on and trying to concentrate on whose in control of the conversation now. Being disabled doesnt help as you cant stay standing and having to sit means your not on the same level. It doesnt help that there seems to be so many cleeks like the pregnants, the new parents, the students, the unions, those who work in same jobs or places and so you think where exactly do I fit in. I dont belong with the students. Im not old Im not young but there doesnt seem to be an inbetween. You’re just assumed to be ignorant when all you want to do is fit in. I always fitted in at my old Church I taught Sunday School I fit in with everyone young and old. Maybe I had more confidence then, I dont know. As for coffee, its overrated, I drink tea but the outcome is just the same, so I know 1 thing its not the coffee youre drinking Lol. As for Sunday lunch, whats that? Hasnt that gone out of fashion? Go the Pub or get a takeaway, a microwave dinner or get someone else to cook for you. Have Fun. Xxx

  7. Hi Alison

    Thanks for commenting. I’m sorry this is such a battle for you – praying for you now. x

  8. Emma, it’s like you are inside my mind. I hate coffee after church and always spend about forever (that’s how it feels) looking like a total idiot with no one to talk to. I’ve never thought about praying over the coffee time before but will try to remember to do so from now.

  9. Oh wow. I totally didn’t expect you to actually look at my blog. Thank you. You were a real inspiration at KU this year.

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