So yesterday, I forced myself to make an appearance at a work shindig. I had volunteered to serve as a back-up person for one of the book sales tables, which is something I agreed to do only because I thought that telling myself I was “needed” would help me to overcome my resistance to attending the event. (I’ve come to think of Sundays as “the day to steel myself for the coming week”.)
Well, I got there, and it was immediately apparent that I was NOT needed (or wanted) at the book table . . . all involved were happy to maintain the pretense of “well, let’s see what happens–we might need you later”, but it wasn’t like there was even space for me at the table. So with too much time on my hands before the festivities were to begin, I decided to wander around a bit. Now, I wasn’t feeling all that great to begin with, and being alone, feeling superfluous and extremely conscious of how much of an outsider I was, didn’t help my mood at all.
“Alone in the crowd” is such a ridiculously worn cliche, but I can’t help it–that was definitely how I felt. I was certainly already feeling raw from the events of the past few days, and it didn’t help that I wasn’t able to share the exuberant, celebratory mood that most of the crowd displayed, not only because of the hurt in my heart over a friend’s bad choices (even in the face of an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from friends and strangers alike) and the stubborn persistence of sin, but also because I was acutely aware that I had long since lost any sense of excitement or joy in relation to my current place of employment. And, although I can hear my former shrink in my head asking me to challenge these thoughts, I also felt like I was being presented with silent reminders that my employer had long since fallen out of love with me, as well.
Ruminating away, I sat down and waited for the events to start. I was glad to see that there was going to be a worship team leading us, particularly because my lack of experience doing the “mommy” thing, even with supposedly self-sufficient adolescents, had caused me to be so late for church that the singing was completely over by the time we got there.
And as it turned out, the music was exactly what I needed . . . I tried as best as I could to suppress my snarky, judgmental thoughts about the people around me, most of whom, I’m quite sure, were entirely unaccustomed to hearing black gospel music, and who were no doubt thinking that it was “too loud” . . . I tried, also, to shut out any thoughts of the judgmental thoughts those same people would have towards me as they watched my sorry white girl self sing really badly, clap off beat, and sway with her eyes closed. “Audience of One”, I tried to tell myself. I needed to meet God . . . I needed to worship, with my sorry white-girl lack of rhythm, even if those around me thought I was one of God’s “special” lambs . . .
so worship I did. the sunglasses came in handy as a few non-compliant tears slipped out . . . but all I could think about was that I wanted to let the team leading worship know how much it meant to me, how their choice of songs, and their style of worship, helped me to feel at home, reminded me amidst the sea of blonde heads and multi-generational clans, that I DO belong somewhere, that I DO have a home among God’s people, and that I would not trade that home for anything.
I don’t want to put words into anybody’s mouth, or try to pull the Cool White Person ™ thing again, but I can’t help but wonder if the people who were leading worship were also grasping for that sense of home as they gave their best to a less-than-encouraging crowd. And I don’t usually succumb to this type of thinking, either, but for a moment I had the sense that, no matter whether anybody else appreciated their ministry, that they were in some way there “just for me” . . . because God knew exactly what my broken heart needed to hear in that moment. (Again, I don’t typically say/believe that type of thing, but in this case, it seemed almost possible.)
Holy, Holy, Holy
Though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see
Only Thou art holy
There is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love and purity
In the last few days, I have seen more than a little bit of how the darkness can seem to overcome God’s power in a person’s life . . . and yet, hearing those words, and singing them out horrifically off-key with my pathetic, two-watt self, I was reminded that God is still in control. and there in that ballpark, alone in a crowd, freakish and out of place, I worshipped, and fell in love all over again with, the God who says that I belong to Him, who doesn’t look for proof of legitimacy in who my earthly family is.
I met God today in what some would call the most unlikely place, and I found belonging there, and even some much-needed healing.
I don’t know if the worship team has any clue how much their presence meant to me . . . but I know that I have to find a way to tell them.