For most of my adult life I have sat alone in church services. My first husband chose not to attend church unless I begged and pleaded for days, so the few times I went alone I technically was on the same row as either my sister or one of my friends from church. But I was not sitting with my husband. That hurts.
In the years we were stationed in Panama Canal Zone, we didn't attend church at all. I was fearful to go anywhere there alone and the only services I ever heard about on base were Catholic Mass and because that was foreign to me, I chose not to go. I missed it at times and then I became numb to not attending church at all. That is a dangerous place to be!!
After moving back to the states, I attended Sunday services with my parents and sisters and for the most part I was simply and honestly just sitting there trying to keep my small children entertained for the duration of the service. I consider that part of my life the 'check box' time. I use this terminology because I was simply checking the box that said I attended services that week. These were my survival/denial years. I cringed when new people would attempt to be friendly and ask where my husband was because I hated telling people I was divorced with 2 small kids to raise.
Some churches really made a single parent feel welcome and didn't ask questions, some churches made you feel very unwelcome because you were alone with 2 kids and those churches I quickly left.
Fast forward to 2005 when my family started attending /visiting at DFA and I finally made a few good friends there that didn't judge me for being alone in services. To all of those that reached out to me in those years when my husband was working or didn't feel like attending, you made me feel welcome whether I was alone or not and I am truly thankful for that.
In 2010 when we started attending Bellevue Grace, I told them first thing that I would be alone at a lot of services cause of my husband's work schedule and that stopped a lot of the typical uncomfortable questions. Those kind people in leadership at Bellevue Grace knew other things were not right in my marriage but they still loved on me, supported me and always listened. I wish I could contact each of them and tell them directly how much their kindness meant to me in those years of turmoil.
2012 would be the year I move back to TN and started attending Covenant Church in Burns, TN. From the first Sunday service, I was welcomed with open arms and no one ever questioned me or who I was attending with. At times, I brought a friend with me and that helped me get through the roughest transition of being alone in church.
Now, I go to church to worship and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in the Kingdom and I hate to miss a service. So take my story here today and reach out and smile at someone you see sitting alone in services. There are many reasons they may be alone, but your smile and offer of friendship could be the reason they come back to services again and again. A friendly person at church can make a world of difference when you are fighting obstacles at home.
Love and prayers for all of you as we go back to school this week and keep smiling and offer friendship to everyone. You just might meet your next friend in the Lord!
If you are in danger, call 911. If you need assistance/guidance in getting out of a domestic violence situation please call 1-800-799-7233 for help!