I had an experience this morning in church and normally I wouldn't blog it because it was...well, unusual and very personal. But for some reason it keeps replaying in my mind and I have to let it out. I don't know what the point of my sharing is or even if there is one so don't think too hard on it. Unless of course you want to.
I went to church like usual this morning even though I woke up feeling just under the weather enough to wonder if I should. But I rounded up the children and got everyone ready and went anyway. I dropped everyone off at their usual classes and took my normal seat in the sanctuary. I sit in the very back pew off to one side with an older couple who adopted me. We're a pretty quiet trio.
Worship was it's usual inspiration and I was very peaceful. Announcements, doxology, offering. The offeratory song was one that I have always loved and quite honestly I can't remember which one it was right this second because what happened next completely changed the whole service for me. Remember how I sit at the very back of the sanctuary off to one side? From the second row directly in front of the pulpit I saw a woman stand up and start for the back of the church.
I couldn't take my eyes off of her and she was obviously crying. She hadn't made it to the middle of the sanctuary when I was suddenly standing up and dashing out the back door to meet her in the gathering area. I don't know why I did it; I just knew I had to. We took one look at each other and she grabbed me in one of the tightest hugs I have ever had.
I am an introvert. I really try to fade into the background of every scenario I find myself in. To suddenly find myself hugging a sobbing stranger was unbelieveable and in any other circumstance would have been painfully weird. I walked with her to the bathroom with absolutely no expectations except to grab some tissues and wipe eyes and noses. It was none of my business why she was crying; it was just obvious that she needed someone to be with her at that moment.
She suddenly opened up to me and shared her story. I don't think it's critical to know what was going on but she was in some very real pain. Two other ladies in the restroom at the time started to pour out advice to her and prayed with her and provided encouragement and I stood off to the side. I honestly didn't say a word.
When the other two had left she and I stood in the gathering area and just looked at each other for a minute. I of course had to make some witty crack about the fact that I want to go to kids heaven when I die because it's all about picnics, swings, slides and sunshine and she laughed and smiled. I gave her one more hug and went back to service.
After service I went to communion and was on my way back to gather my stuff and go snag the kids. I ran into her again and just smiled and shared a few more words. My church is pretty large so the chances that I will see her again next week are 50/50. I didn't give her any contact info to get in touch - not because I didn't want to but because it really didn't seem like the thing.
The whole experience was fleeting at best. I didn't really offer any profound advice or life changing encouragement. The only thing I really shared was a hug and a smile. So why did this have such a huge impact on me? Why is it replaying in my mind over and over? What am I supposed to do with this?
My faith tells me that there was a purpose. That somehow I helped her just by being a friend when she needed one. My faith tells me that someday I will see the outcome of this interaction. My faith tells me that I was compelled to write this out for a reason too. I don't know.
Maybe the story will inspire someone to leave their comfort zone for the sake of another. Maybe someone will write a letter to a long lost friend. Maybe someone in pain will read this and take hope that they aren't completely alone.
Maybe it was just for me.