Sunday, August 9, 2015

Running and Hiding Part 1: When Singles Visit Your Church

It’d been a long time since I’d visited a church. It’d been even longer since I’d visited a church alone, knowing no one. What gave me the idea to go a calling by myself one Sunday? Per my experience, you might wonder along with me. Ergo, let me tell you a tale.
            I got it into my mind to visit a different church one Sunday. I attended my regular church in the morning and then Googled evening services in my area. I found a few, chose one, and as the hour approached, I threw on my morning church clothes and prepared to leave.
            And suddenly, Netflix seemed inviting. Suddenly, these weird cold sweats came upon me and I got all nervous in the pit of my stomach. Why, oh why, would I voluntarily put myself through this? I’d managed to avoid this pain by working for a church. Therefore, I’m fully occupied on Sunday mornings and barely notice my aloneness.
            But this? Going alone to a church service? Knowing not a soul. Knowing that the other congregants will recognize me as a newcomer. They will begin to wonder, Who is that girl? Is she a Christian? Should we approach her as someone who needs witnessing? Is she just visiting? Or is she searching? Is she lost and wounded? Or is she just dropping in?
            Or worse, they won’t notice me at all.
            By golly, it takes guts to visit it a church alone.
            So I told myself not to be a chicken and just go.
            I timed my arrival so I would be there just after the church service began. No awkward twittering in the atrium for me, thanks. I climbed the stairs to the front doors and a cheery woman greeted me with a very white smile and, “Welcome.” Followed by, “We just started so you’re right on time.”
            Everything was going smoothly until I stubbed my toe on the top stair and spilled my coffee everywhere. Coffee I bought from Starbucks, but whether I purchased it to make me look cool or to give me something with which to occupy my hands I’ll never know.
            Thankfully the floor was black carpet so the coffee didn’t show up and Big Smile told me not to worry about it.
            I wonder if she felt the same way about the blood my toe oozed on the mosaic tiled floor. But the floor was conveniently red so I doubt anyone noticed. Funny how blood and communion wine are the same color...
            After the alternative music, this guy with a thick Scottish accent got up and introduced himself as a “Depreeved human beying” and I quickly scanned his left hand for a ring.
            Then came the awkward, “Greet one another” moment and the single guy in the pew one up from me deliberately greeted everyone but me. The slight was quite noticeable, but I get it. We women are predators. And in his defense he had no idea my eye was on the Scottish male.
            Still I made a mental note to attempt to make him very uncomfortable if I got the chance. I love poking fun at the shy ones.
            As the service wore on, I realized I didn’t bring my show Bible. So that meant the next song I should probably raise my hands, just so people didn’t think I wasn’t a Christian. But wait, Communion came first. This was my chance to reveal my Christiany knowledge of church.
            Except they did communion differently than my church and I had to watch other people to make sure I did it right. Why do I feel like everyone is watching me and trying really hard to hide it?
            After the service, one person sought me out to say hi and encourage me to come again. Funny, I could have sworn I felt more pairs of eyes than just one.
            Tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum, I guess I’ll go home now.

            And I remembered suddenly what a totally intimidating thing it is to be single in the church.


  1. THIS. This is, with a few wonderful intermissions, the story of the last 7 years of my life. And this is why every Christian (single, married, or somehow other) should do this exact thing--preferably alone--at least once a year. When we know everyone, we don't know how hard we are to get to know. Nor how excruciating the not-knowing is.

    1. I agree ofsomesignificance, I think, especially since I work for a church, that I need to visit another church AT LEAST once a year, just to remember what it's like to be a newcomer. Great idea.