Two of my kids were recently down for the count with the bug. Because I am part of the leadership for our college-age group and because my wife is an amazing servant/mommy she volunteered to stay home and I made the trek to church with just my eldest daughter in tow. After a great time with the young adults I made my way into the church service…
Early that morning I had tweeted: “Many will attempt the ‘Love God’ part this am in our churches, but let’s also apply the ‘Love others’ portion! Risk a little & be real.”
… I walked into the auditorium with a sense of anticipation, with a desire to be obedient to the very thing God had placed on my heart, to love others.
As a solo-attender that day I could sit with another family, perhaps someone from my small group? I could look for a new family and go out of my way to make them feel welcome. Instead, I sat by a 40-something single man. A man I don’t know well, but have had some interactions with.
“Can I sit here?” I asked.
“Yes, please do!” He responded with an unsuspecting smile as he moved his Bible off of the seat he was sure would be unoccupied.
We worshipped together. We laughed at the same sermon-appropriate jokes from our Pastor. I skipped to different passages on my iPad while taking notes. He seemed more content reading the Scriptures off the the projected screens as we listened to our Pastor.
We were good kids, we didn’t talk during the sermon.
As the service concluded he turned to me and rocked my world with his words.
“Brian, thank you for sitting with me. You just raised my status a few points… I normally just sit alone.”
My perspective changed. I don’t know what it is like to be 40 something and single. This man does most things on his own. He eats most meals alone, shows up to small group alone and returns back home, alone. He longs for relationship (just as I do). But the difference, I can at least cover-up any look of loneliness by being with my family.
I just sat with him. Nothing more, nothing less. This “raised his status?”
It certainly didn’t have to be a 40-something single, there are any number of others that feel lonely. I know many teens struggling with their identity and sense of belonging. Young married couples without kids may feel different (and alone). I am sure several families come to church with the feeling of “lack of connection.” What about the widow or widower? And yes, even the church staff/pastors struggle– it seems everyone knows their name, but very few feel known.
‘Loving others’ this day meant sitting next to a single man. Today, not in church, the circumstance has changed, but the command from Jesus remains the same. Whether in church, in my Christian circle or out in my community, I desire to be more present and more aware. Today I will risk and look to love God and love others.