Text to a couple girlfriends recently: “It’s happy-couple day at Trader Joe’s. #gross”

Friend #1: “Buy more chocolate!”
Friend #2: “Trip them.”

Response to #1: “Totally already have.”
Response to #2: “I whipped PowerBerries at them.”

I am alone a good deal of the time, especially now that school is back in session.

Every weekday from 7:25 to 3, 4 or 4:30, depending on the day and afterschool activity.
Every other Tuesday evening from 5-8pm.
Every Wednesday evening from 6:30-8:45pm.
Every Thursday evening from 5-8pm.
Every other weekend from Friday at 5pm through Sunday at 6pm.
Certain holidays.

I can do alone.  I’ve got this. It helps, I’m sure, that I’m a shy introvert who loves being on my own.  So, aloneness?  Not a big deal.

Except for one place: church.

I can go grocery shopping alone, to the library alone, clothes shopping alone, to Panera alone, to speaking engagements alone, even to the movies alone.

But I hate…and I mean hate…walking into church alone, sitting there alone, and walking out alone.  This happens pretty often.

I make myself go for many reasons.  It’s good to be in community. It’s good to worship publicly.  It’s good for my heart to be reminded of the Truth, just when I’m about to forget once again.  And it’s good for who I am… to make myself do something that is good for me but hard at the same time.

But I hate it.  It is perhaps my loneliest hour-and-a-half (unless, of course, one of my friends is there saving me a seat, which happens every so often).  And I am proud of myself because I have never once stayed home from church because of loneliness.

But I think I might know why this is my least favorite alone place.  Church, for me at least, is so very vulnerable and intimate.  Especially these days.  These still-grieving and still-healing days.  In this place where I feel so safe, gratefully.  My church is dimly lit and the music goes right into my soul.  And the messages of grace or forgiveness or pain being redeemed fill up places in me that nothing else does.

The other day, with a friend sitting next to me this time thankfully, our guest speaker was reading a portion from his book and it was a scene where a friend was telling him that he didn’t want him to turn into his father who has made so many poor choices, and you know how sometimes tears just come and you had no idea they were about to? Yeah, well that happened.  And they sat on the rim of my eyes because those words just pierced me, wanting a life so different for my children.  And in that moment of utter rawness, my friend reached over with her hand and gently brushed my hair and placed her hand on my back, for just a few moments.  And I felt known and understood and loved and it was such a simple gesture but just what I needed.

Church does something for me…it reminds me of who I am and who I was and who I want to be and how full God is of light and joy and healing powers and grace…and sometimes, sometimes I wish I had a partner who  I could share that all with.  And that’s why I hate going to church alone.  Because, right now, I don’t.

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