Confession 

My confession: I don’t go to church when Ron is out of town. 

 

Not on Sunday. Not on Wednesday. Not ever. It is too hard. It has been for two years.

Each Sunday morning, when I am home alone, I shower, do my hair, and get dressed. I put on makeup and put the dogs in their kennel. I gather my things and leave the house with every intention of going to church. Really, I intend to go to church alone. But I don’t. I can’t. I can’t walk into church alone. I can’t stand there alone, surrounded by the crowd during worship. I can’t do the “greet people” thing alone. I can’t sit and listen to the sermon alone. I can’t walk into my Sunday school classroom alone.

I drive alone towards church in time for service, but I never make it to the parking lot. I drive around until I think of some place else to go. Wal-Mart, Target, Market Street. I buy a few things. I leave. I get lunch to go. I come home to eat. Alone.

Nope, I can’t walk into church alone. It is just too hard. 

Maybe part of this stems from old stuff like the embarrassment of being a nerdy outcast going into the high school cafeteria alone. Maybe it has to do with abandonment issues from my childhood. Maybe it’s social anxiety. Maybe it’s my low self-esteem. Maybe it’s related to grief. Maybe being alone in church reminds me too much of those I have lost or fears of losing someone else. I don’t know. But I just can’t do it. Not now. Not this week.

When Ron is home, we go to the 8:15 service followed by Sunday school and lunch every Sunday. I love our church and Sunday school classmates. We have a wonderful church home. When visiting one of my children, I go to their church with them. I love going to church with my family. 

We always go to church on Sundays when Ron and I are together, even when out of town. We enjoy finding a church in new cities. We’ve visited Baptist churches, Vineyard Fellowships, Presbyterian Churches, an Evangelical Free church, a Lutheran Church, a predominately black charismatic church, and a nondenominational Bible church. We have found that the Word is preached in various denominations throughout this great nation and that God’s people are welcoming and kind at each of them. 

The issue is not that I don’t want to go to church. It is that I can’t. Not alone. 

I knew Ron would be leaving for Asia early Sunday morning. I wanted to go to church without him this time. This week I would do it! I would be strong! I would overcome!

No. Not really. I admitted inwardly that I would not go alone this week. Or the next time.

Rather than not going, I thought about calling someone to ride with to our church. But I didn’t know who to call, so I called no one. I considered calling my friend Jodie, whose husband travels a bunch, to ride to her church with her. But I didn’t call her. Sunday morning I almost called my friend Liz to see if I could go to their church with her and husband. I didn’t call her either. 

“Will you take me to church with you so I don’t have to walk into that scary place all alone?” It sounds so pathetic. So weak. So broken. So stupid. 

I could hear their response, “Seriously? You need someone to hold your hand? What? You can’t walk into church alone? Don’t you trust God? What are you afraid of? How silly? Get over yourself! Don’t you want to worship? Are you even a believer? Do you have any faith? Don’t forsake the gathering together of the brethren!

Of course, my friends would never say those things. They would love me. They would gladly pick me up and sit with me. They might even take me to lunch. 

So why didn’t I call one of them? I don’t know. But I didn’t. I never do. 

Next Sunday Ron will be home. The week after that we will both be out of town. But in three weeks I’ll be here without him. 

Local friends, consider this a cry for help. Someone please invite me to ride with them to church on November 22! Please help me break this stupid stronghold!

Everyone else, please consider calling that single mom, that widow, that friend whose husband travels. Invite them to ride with you to church. You may help them, and you may find it blesses you, too.


~~~~~~~

If this post resonated with you, you may wand to read Tears in Church or Fears and Anxiety from the Past.  


14 thoughts on “Confession 

  1. Kathleen, I can’t say I completely understand. Even if Terry was away, I always had my kids to go to church with me; now, I sometimes have to drive alone, but I will have family to sit with. I really never thought about this before, so thank you for opening my eyes to something I will pay more attention to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for saying you can’t completely understand. I think until you’ve been here, you can’t.

      Having said that, I will be more aware when a woman loses a child or a spouse (by death or divorce).

      I think part of the issue for me is that I often cry during worship now. Crying while standing alone is just yucky.

      Fortunately, my sweetheart will be home this week to go with me!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband and I really struggle with going to our home church since Leah died, she was so involved there and a vibrant part of the young people’s group. If my husband and youngest daughter aren’t going then it feels too painful to go alone to where we once went as a complete family. Thankfully I have friends in other churches too, so on those occasions I go elsewhere and text somebody to look out for me. It’s been almost two years but I still cry in church every Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have heard stories from many who changed churches after losing a child. Too many memories. No one following up. Too emotional.

      There are many reasons listed. I think part of it is that we have been changed in a very deep way. So the things that brought us joy and comfort before don’t anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not surprised that many change churches but it’s helpful to hear that. Our church gave us a lot of support throughout Leah’s illness and in the aftermath of her death so I would feel like I was being very ungrateful if I walked away.
        For six years Leah ran our church’s League of Church Loyalty attendance scheme, with my oversight. So every Sunday she was in the foyer of our church greeting the children and young people.
        Her absence feels very visible.

        Like

  3. Kathleen, I can totally identify with this blog. I can go and meet my mother or go with my husband, but since my daughter died I can’t go in alone either. For me it’s being afraid of what the sermon might be about and finding myself alone with my grief. I don’t want to embarrass myself in the church. And certain music will bring me down. I know it’s all about worshiping God, but I worship Him all week. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has experienced this. I hope someone will see your blog and call you for Nov. 22. Love this blog, by the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Kathleen, I really appreciated this blog. I can empathize with you for different reasons. I was divorced after 35 years of marriage and before the divorce was even final, my ex-husband was taking his girlfriends to the church we once attended together. I joked that I lost my church in the divorce.

    By the way, not one person from the congregation or pastoral staff ever reached out to ask why I suddenly stopped attending. Surely it was noticed that my former husband was parading a series of other women through the church doors. But apparently he was accepted and I was abandoned by my former church family.

    Through our many years of marriage, I often had to go to church without him, as he often was out of town or just simply refused to go unless there was an opportunity to make himself look good. But I always had my children to take with me so I usually went, with or without him.

    But now, dealing with feelings as varied as feeling like a big fat failure, to overcoming lies he was telling about me, to struggling to come to grips with years of abuse that had escalated to the point where I literally fled for my life, left me unable to muster the ability to seek out a new congregation.

    Finally, finally I summoned the courage to begin to visit churches by myself, alone for the first time in my life. In all instances but one, I was never spoken to or acknowledged or greeted at the churches I visited. It was as if I was invisible.

    The one church that greeted me warmly and accepted me without question is the church where I now worship and serve. I was still hesitant to commit until God very gently gave me a definite push. An area of acute need opened for which I was uniquely qualified. I cautiously took that step and I am so glad I did.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts through your blog. You are helping others.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow, the fact that you have gone back AT ALL deserves a pat on the back. We started going back after three years, and I feel like it was still too soon. Thinking of quitting again. Nothing to do with faith, I believe in God, it’s just everything falls short. I only want heaven, and my boy, now. Preaching just seems empty. I’d like to start doing more……and seeing heaven on earth if I have to be stuck here. Not playing church. Even as wonderful as everyone is, nothing feels right. Nothing feels like “enough”.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I encourage you to keep going, not only for yourself, but also for others. They need to see what grief and recovery are really like.

      As for wanting more, try getting an in-depth bible study to do at home or with friends. I love the studies from Precept.org.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll pray for you about this, Kathleen. I can relate to so much of what you’ve written. I stopped attending church abruptly after my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly back in 98. It was a couple of years before I could go again regularly. And I still hate going by myself. But during this last year, since my husband’s been staying home on Sundays, I’ve finally learned to go by myself without severe anxiety. God will lead you, dear friend. Keep getting ready each Sunday and keep dipping your toe into the sea. He’ll help you cross over with joy in His perfect timing. Hugs.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did actually text my friend Jodie while I drove around yesterday. Unfortunately, she was out of town. I am sure I will go without Ron the exit time! But I’m hoping I won’t be going alone.

      Thanks for the encouragement and prayers.

      And I promise, despite some of my recent posts, I am not losing my mind. Just struggling a bit. And being more transparent about it. Life – and God – really is good.

      Liked by 2 people

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