I knew I would eventually get around to finishing my 31 days. I didn’t know where this series would lead when I started it and I’m still not entirely sure but I know that during this season of depression, church has been on my mind a lot.
These are some of those ramblings.
She sits at the corner booth, tucked away with a bowl of soup. The steam rises past her face and she concentrates on the slow turn of the spoon. Blonde hair falls forward curtain-like, masking her from sight. She looks up, her eyes wandering through the crowd of women gathering at tables, preceded by giggles and smiles and togetherness.
There are so many ways to be alone and you can never tell from the looks of a person, just which alone it is.
Because there is the solitude I long for, the gentle quiet that cocoons my introverted heart at times when I’m overwhelmed by the noise and movement that surrounds my life, the kids tugging on my hem asking to be seen, the husband and the schedules. And the hours drip from the clock and time moves so slow when I am rushed.
And then, in peace, I find myself alone and I cling to that space, where my thoughts can wander uninterrupted. This place where inspiration comes from. I want to linger in this place.
But then, there is the alone that finds me in the rising tide of Christmas carols and chatter as the congregation surges and swells together. My smile slipping through the crowd over the tops of faces never finding a spot to connect. I wrap arms tight around my ribs, pull my jacket over me like insulation even though the mob has me sweltering.
I am always the loneliest in a crowd where faces are familiar but friends are few.
I smile wide here. And I know that each deep relationship might start with these micro-conversations, these trivial words that build in the noisy aftermath of church, by the urn of coffee, at the kids Christmas party, or the shelves filled with stories of faith and community and God stuff. So I push myself into them, trying. And I know it takes time.
But this doesn’t feel like family yet. It doesn’t feel like anything more than obedience.
Let your eyes stay and fix and tell the truth of your life. But this, the mundane, the superficial swapping of church smiles and soggy handshakes, and the appropriate side hug of semi-strangers, I can’t bear. At least not in this season.
And I wonder how do we go from here to there. How do we move past platitudes and politeness and do life together?
Maybe it has nothing to do with conversation and small talk.
Maybe it has more to do with being woven together.
Threads wound and entwined. And we can say that Jesus crafts us and the church fabric is mended by His hands alone, but the knitting together and yarn unspooled happens in pattern and purpose. Yet this feels haphazard and monotonous, like stitches dangling and looped, overstretched or pulled too tight. And it doesn’t cover any of us, there are so many gaps. And the cold blows right through, chilling me down to bone.
And sometimes I don’t know if He’s here. Sometimes I wonder if the Holy Spirit has left the building and no one has bothered to notice, myself included.
And we toss ‘intentional’ around and slap it on our moments as a reminder to focus. But what are we being intentional about? Where is our focus? Because advent is upon us and I am waiting like never before.
I need a savior. In sin and error I am pining for the redeemer. Because this life of mine needs redemption.
I know I have failed. Will continue to fail. This being intentional is slippery and hard to grasp, especially when the world dims and blurs and my mascara screams down my face and stains the cottony white Kleenex. The snowy tissue matted as black as sin.
Maybe it has nothing to do with being intentional.
Maybe it has to do with being available. And maybe I’ve let my guard down completely. With God. With those around me.
Maybe our intent is what fails us.
Maybe we lose the whole of being still and waiting on God because we are so intent on doing what we feel we’re supposed to.
Maybe that’s why I long so deeply in this season, because I don’t have the energy to feel. And I don’t have the stamina for ‘ supposed to.’
Maybe the Holy Spirit has left the building and we never even noticed.