Years ago when I was a small group coordinator, we did a study of the church demographic and found that a large number of the women in the church were married but attended services alone. I have been married for over twenty years and have never counted myself in this category…at least not until yesterday.
For over a year, my husband and I have been simply existing when it comes to church life. My ministry takes me away on Sunday’s a lot and my husband does not feel particularly called to attend church without me. This past spring I discovered the Saturday night service at Commonwealth Chapel. I personally think it is one of the best worship experiences I have ever found. However, it is in the city and a bit more expressive than my husband is comfortable with. For this and reasons that I am sure neither he nor I can articulate, he refuses to attend with me on a regular basis and when he does attend, I spend the entire worship service worrying about him and what he thinks.
This past week was particularly difficult for me and the coming week holds many challenges. My daughter’s recent surgery and period of recovery have limited our church participation even more than normal and I desperately wanted to attend worship on Saturday so that I could go to our cabin and spend Sunday morning in concentrated prayer for the coming week. I know it sounds really spiritual of me but the truth is I have neglected my prayer life for months with my daughters surgery and I knew I would not get through the coming week without a concentrated time of prayer.
Anyway, I decided to worship without my husband. I called every woman I could think of who might be interested in going to church with me, and everyone turned me down. But I knew I was supposed to go so I found the courage to get in the car, drive 35 minutes into the city, and walk into the church, alone. I surveyed the room and saw another single woman standing alone mid way up the aisle. She was lost in the music and did not see me beside her trying to get into the row of seats. I tapped her on the arm and she turned, smiled and allowed me to pass. Then she did something quite unexpected, she whispered in my ear “Aren’t you the Embrace lady?” I said “yes” and then she gave me a spirited embrace. I cannot tell you how much that greeting warmed my heart. I learned her name was Katherine and that she works for my board Vice President who is also my eye doctor.
She and I joined in worship together. Katherine has an amazing voice and her passion for worship was contagious. I sang louder and more passionately than I think I ever have. I truly felt like God placed Katherine in that pew next to me as a reminder that no one ever truly worships alone.
Please join me in saying a special prayer for all the men and women who weekly enter our houses of worship alone. Pray more of us greet them as warmly as Katherine greeted me and say a special prayer of thanksgiving for Katherine; for her angelic voice and her passionate spirit that allowed me to truly worship with my whole heart. Also pray my husband and I find a way of worshiping together.