Originally published Friday, 06 September 2013.
She may very well be a line from the song Dancing Queen–“young and sweet, only seventeen.”
She may be in her late-twenties, cheerful, with a wardrobe and hairstyle that would make even Kate Middleton look frumpy.
She may even be older. Weathered. Her eyes may be sunken with disappointment or heartbreak. Her hands may be as leathery as the pages of her Bible she holds in her lap like the toddler she never had.
Young or old, these women have one thing in common: they are coming into to your church congregations alone.
You may not have even noticed them or given them a second glance. That’s understandable. Because, you see, they’ve learned to become anonymous. They’ve learned to become invisible.
Going to church alone is sort of a “takes one to know one” club that no one ever talks about. But we all think about it. The single girl sitting alone in the pew behind you is thinking about it.
The thoughts that spur her singleness are the thoughts that cause her singleness in the first place. She may very well have made the decision to remain single forever–whether she wants to be or not–by the very thought that she will remain single.
Loneliness has the power to bloom more loneliness that way.
These ladies are smart. Meaning, that they’ve figured out how to hide really well. How to escape into their cocoon, their single girl silo.
But what you may not know is that these women, young and old, rich or humble, actually need you to see them. They need you to lock eyes with them and shake their hands. They need you to hug them. To welcome them. To let them know that you’re worshiping with them, too.
Because, honestly, it’s a miracle that they even got to church that morning to begin with.
Anonymous singles in church congregations spend their Sunday mornings before church arguing with God.
God, does it even really make a difference if I go today? they ask. Still under the covers over their beds that they want to burrow further into.
What difference does it make if I drag myself to a service or not? Who cares?
If you don't reach out to them, no one cares.
Except for maybe God. God probably cares that there are people his house that are unknown. He's the one that said in Scripture that we're all a part of the Body of Christ, right?
And if that's true, if Scripture is correct and we're all a piece of one body, then lonely singles play the role of heads without faces.
They will leave after the benediction. And though grace and peace is with them, they will leave without so much of a breath in the direction of another brother or sister.
Show us it makes a difference whether we’re there or not.
Don’t ask us to serve on committees or watch your children in the nursery. Don't take from us. Or assume that we have wild, exciting lives because full of fun and splendor.
Commune with us. Make us feel as though we'd be missed if we weren't around. Make us a part of your family. Give us faces. And names to those faces.
And, please, if you can, keep us from hiding.
Sisters, talk to me. Are you tempted, like me, to hide during church services? Why is it so tempting to be anonymous at church? What encourages you to keep going? Leave a comment below!
photo credit: David Stephensen via photopin cc