I wish I could say I woke up with eagerness. I wish I could say I woke up ready to take on the world. Instead, I looked at my phone with bleary eyes hoping the alarm wasn’t really going off, but just something in my dreams. I wanted to cancel, but my guilt started gnawing at me.
Just three weeks prior, after hearing a conversation I was having with another girl at the table, she answered from the living room, “I don’t want to go to church.” And after a small pause and a little under her breath, “How did He let that happen to me?” It was spoken with complete innocence and question, not hatred or bitterness. It was a moment I could only offer a glimmer of faith with limited understanding. There were no easy answers, no clichés would work. It was a simple question, with an answer so complex we may never fully grasp it.
Now, just a few weeks later, she asked to go to church. Just like before, she made a simple proclamation, “I want to go church this Sunday.”
So, that’s why this Sunday, I was getting up an hour earlier than normal. I should be excited. I should be grateful that I get to be a part of this moment. But, for some reason, I don’t want to lift my head off my pillow. I want to hit snooze and roll over. My body is exhausted, my mind is exhausted, my heart is exhausted and all I want is to have this day off.
There’s that pang of quilt again, that pang that finally forces me to throw back the cover and get out of bed.
When I pull up to the house, I put on my best smile. It’s that moment when you dread going but glad once you’re there. They all come out of the house dressed up, with their hair done, make up on, and a few waddling in their high heels. We’re all going and they’re all excited. The guilt rises again, because my selfishness almost caused me to miss this experience.
We show up and pick our pew. Not completely in the front, but close enough
Once the service starts, I notice her getting anxious. She has clear tells of fidgeting and looking at you with something to say but working up the courage. She looks at me one more time and asks to go to the restroom. When she comes out, she confesses, “ok, I didn’t really have to go to the bathroom. Can we talk outside?” I look around and realize there is nobody around but I comply. We go outside and her next comment humbles me. Her eyes are brimming with tears and she says, “I don’t feel like I should be in there praising Him, when I couldn’t praise Him when the bad things were happening me.”
Guilt! We both experienced it, but mine was deserved, hers was thrown on her by the depravity of others. In that moment, her humility completely humbled me. We began to discuss the beauty of God’s grace, how He understood how she felt in those moments, and never left her.
I asked if she was able to go back to the service and she immediately complied.
Within a few minutes, she became anxious again. She then asked to go out again. This time she asked if she could talk to the pastor after service. This time I complied.
When we met with the pastor after church, she taught me what true faith looks like. She quietly told him how nervous she was coming, how overwhelmed she was setting in the pew, and how she had to take breaks to get through. She then made a comment that will continually shape my faith. She said, “I told God, if he would just let this man speak to me today, then I would try to trust Him again.”
Such a simple phrase, yet for her it was one of the most honest, yet difficult things to own. For her to trust anyone, shows the truest form of courage I’ve witnessed.
Before she left, she turned and said I’ll be back and I know it’s true.
In just a few hours, she taught me courage, trustworthiness, and faithfulness at a depth I’ve never experienced before and won’t soon forget.