I so enjoy talking to our clients on the phone and hearing about what is unfolding in their day or weekend. We often hear about medical struggles or a new diagnosis, we hear about the joy and anticipation of children and grandchildren coming to town, and we hear about the heartache of loneliness.
I was caught off guard this past Mondy when a client said to me “Oh Trish, I stayed home from Church and I had such a good day.” I was troubled, and so I replied with the statement that always works when I am not sure what direction to go, “tell me more.”
She went on to share what a good day she had because she did not experience all the struggle that accompanies her when returning home after Church.
“Tell me more about the struggle,” I gently responded.
“Church has become such a difficult place, awful really,” this 84-year-old woman shared. “All the young people walk by me and don’t even notice me. The pastor seems to always have something to say to the younger people. I don’t know the songs, and it doesn’t seem anyone remembers that I am a charter member.”
I couldn’t help but smile, and there was a gnawing at my heart of the tragic story that was unfolding as well. I could go with the change is hard response, but there seemed to be more here to hear and respond to.
I think about how this woman and her husband were instrumental back in the day when a small group of people worked together to develop this community of faith. I am sure there were abundant memories of the many ways they served, supported financially and in other ways, prayed and worked with many in this sanctuary which she enters every week. I am sure that over the years, this space held an extraordinary place in her story. And now, many years later, the pain of loss and change gripped her each week and ruined her Sundays.
I wonder how her experience might change if we gave more thought as to where we are sitting. What if we mixed young families with older members so young life can be shared, and simple pleasures can be contagious. What if we filled pews before we spread out so even if the back was empty, everyone would be sitting by someone.
I wonder how her experience might change if we took time to connect, make eye contact, offer a touch of our hands or a shared hug as we walk into Worship.
I felt something change in my heart as I listened to this woman’s declaration that her day was so much better when she didn’t go to Church. I wanted to plead with her to try again, but she has gone week after week. I don’t know what it looks like when she is there, but her experience recounted convicted me that I am going to be looking out for those in my church who stand alone, no matter what their age. If you are a member of a faith community, I hope you will do the same, and share some of Jesus love by stopping and connecting with a soul who longs to be noticed.