Last Sunday, I walked into church with two friends looking for a place to sit. I saw one of our elderly ladies sitting by herself, so I walked up and asked if we could join her. She hugged me and said, "Yes, of course! I hate sitting alone. Thank you so much for joining me."
She has been widowed for several years and she went on to tell me sometimes when she cannot find someone to sit with in church it makes her cry. What she said really stuck with me the rest of the day, and it also served as a good reminder. Sometimes, I think being single in church is only hard when you are young. I think I'm probably the only one who still gets nervous walking into the sanctuary wondering if I will be able to find a familiar face to sit with. But, my sweet friend reminded me that no matter the age, being single in the church is hard at times.
When I moved to the Metroplex three years ago, one of the hardest things for me to do was to visit churches by myself. It was such a nerve-wracking experience finding a place to park, trying to navigate through the building to find the sanctuary and then having to sit by myself on a pew, silently hoping a nice person would come along and say, "Hi." I'm a pretty outgoing person and new situations tend to not be intimating to me, but visiting churches as a single adult was truly a struggle.
If I'm being honest, there were a few Sundays I just couldn't get up the courage to try again. I'd been to five or six churches over the course of a couple of months and was just exhausted by the prospect of having to do it one more time. My fear of loneliness and rejection overpowered my desire to be in church.
Being a pastor's daughter, I was not only raised church, but I literally was in church every time the doors were open. Literally. I grew up loving church – the worship, the friends, the fellowship, even the Wednesday night meals. So, as a 27-year-old looking for a new body of believers to join with, I had no idea how hard that struggle could be for someone entering a new situation all alone. It went against my nature and upbringing to dread going to church, but there were Sundays where that's the place I found myself.
But the Lord gently reminded me that He had a place for me. He would take care of me and lead me to a church that would feel like home. And He did. I just had to keep going and eventually I found a great church to be involved in. But there are still days when being single in church is still hard. There are still times I feel alone, and others around me are going through that same struggle.
Jesus promised us He would never leave us or forsake us. We are never alone, even when it feels that way. Next Sunday, when you walk into church, I encourage you to look around and see if there is someone sitting alone. Reach out, shake their hand and tell them you are glad to see them. You never know how that small act of kindness might be a great encouragement.