Things often play out very strange.
I am going to share a story with you. I am still trying to process the circumstances of the past two weeks looking for the hand-print of God in this. I would be interested to know if any of you have experienced what I experienced and how you processed it.
One of the most consistent Google searches which bring new readers to Spiritually Unequal Marriage is this: Attending Church Alone.
I am not surprised by this. For many years, going to church alone was an enormous obstacle for me. Our society is after all, structured primarily around couples. Ever been to the amusement park? Two chairs together on the roller coaster. What about going to the movie theater alone? Shudder!
And finally, church. Organized religion, for the most part, revolves around couples – families. I am not condemning this truth only pointing out that the typical church centers around husbands AND wives. Church leadership doesn’t intend to isolate singles. After all look at the many thriving singles programs churches offer.
However, being married and single is a category most churches can’t even begin to comprehend. With this said, the reality of attending church alone is excruciating. Many Sundays, I would sit down in the sanctuary by myself. Soon a cute couple would shuffle down the row in front of me. I always seemed to notice they were holding hands. Then they would sit directly in front of me thus making it impossible for me to ignore them. And finally they would shoot each other a dazzling, I-am-in-love-with-you-and-so-glad-to-be-in-church-with-you, smile.
I’m not saying anything is wrong with this scenario. In fact, it is very right. But for me……. my heart could be wrenched right out of my chest. The pastor’s message would become lost as his words floated above me, indistinguishable because I was lost in a turbulent sea of unfulfilled longing which threatened to completely swallow me up. Anyone relate?
So now let me put a twist on this scenario. It’s utterly strange to me as I contemplate what I am going to share.
In the recent months since my husband's unemployment, he has attended church with me sporadically. Elated just doesn’t describe how excited I felt over this change in our relationship in early January. Every unbelieving spouse, hopes –dreams- about this day. We think, finally, he will hear the truth spoken and because it is delivered by someone other than me, perhaps the Holy Spirit will finally breakthrough to him.
A desperation prayer is then quickly uttered. “O Lord, please, please, let this be the day he is baptized.”
Well, I am still waiting. And in recent weeks, a new phenomenon has emerged into our intricate church attendance drama.
Recently when my husband chooses to attend church, I faced some unexpected and baffling scenarios. The night or morning before church, my husband would launch into complaints. “The music's too loud. It is a waste of time. Why do we stand through the long singing time? All the men that I observe in church just aren’t’ into it, so why do we sing? And, why is church so long anyway? An hour is enough.”
At first I would answer these questions. “Popular Christian music isn’t like the old hymns. Younger people like it louder and more energetic. So do I.”
“We stand because we honor God as we stand to our feet and from my perspective the singing (worship) isn’t long enough.”
“Many, many people including men really, honestly, like the music.”
And I just leave the whole length-of-the-service thing completely alone. If you love Jesus, you like to be there. If you don’t…….
In addition to these complaints, he would use body language to display his displeasure during the service once we arrive. And if I am brutally honest, I found myself in silent tears as I observed the hostility in him while I stood at his side in church on random Sundays. Because of these verbal and nonverbal complaints, the once-a week- worship and reconnection which I desperately needed was subtly stolen from me. It was just too much for me to ignore.
It seems last week I couldn’t take anymore. It was Father’s Day. He complained about getting up early. “I am not going to rush to get ready. We will get there when we get there” he said as he stepped into the shower.
My disappointment mounted. I LOVE TO WORSHIP. The music can absolutely revive my heart.
We walked into the church that morning and the music was loud but not piercing. He immediately mumbled some caustic remark to me. Girls and Men…. I just snapped. “You do not need to be here. I don’t want you to come to church just to make me happy. I no longer want you here if you don’t desire to be here so please leave right now and I will get a ride home.”
I stared straight into his face with an intensity that could have bored holes through his head. At the moment, I wish they would have. Not kidding!
~This post has gone long but I have so much more of the story to tell. It's already written and I will meet you again here on Friday, July 3rd for the conclusion as well as a question for you. Please come back. Also, today give me your thoughts and share your experiences about church or no-church. Be Blessed, Lynn