Somewhat like the "third date," the third visit to my new church was fraught with a little trepidation. I know where to sit so that I'm not sitting where other people usually sit - not a big deal, but polite. I know that many of the songs are in the hymn book and some are just on the screen. I know that their men's choir is really good - not "American Idol" good, but the really good local choir of men's voices where the men sing from their hearts and it just sounds wonderful. I know that there are still some lovely older German people in the congregation - men and women for whom English is still their second language - who know what it's like to be new and alone.
At the same time, it's heartbreaking to be doing this alone - this finding a new church family without the comfort of my parents or grandparents sitting in the pew next to me (or behind me). On one hand, when I didn't have a church of my own, it felt like I was still away at college, or just for whatever reason temporarily separated from my family, and that when we were all back together again, everything would go back to normal. This is a step away from that - a step away from that feeling of belonging and that feeling of normalcy with my family before things fell apart.
On the other hand, this might be the right church for me. It might be the place where I make my own family, as one of the lovely older German ladies said this morning. She came to this country and joined this church alone - and the church became her family.
The thing is, I didn't want to do this alone. This is just one of the many things I didn't want to have to do alone! I didn't want to buy a house alone - I wanted to buy a house with a husband, and I wanted us to grow together and raise a family in that house. I wanted us to find a church and join and become members there and watch our children grow from the nursery to the high school and college groups there.
I wanted to be a part of the couples' group - talking about our children and their needs and struggles and activities as a part of a larger whole. I didn't want to end up in the older singles' group - no matter how euphemistically titled - with no one in my past except the ghosts of unfulfilled hopes and dreams. I don't know how to do this indefinitely. I was OK for a while, but as "a while" gets longer and longer, I feel weak instead of empowered, found wanting instead of wanted, rejected instead of independent, lost instead of in control of my life and my destiny.
I put off finding things that were important to me - hid them and disguised their importance to myself and others - because I thought it was somehow nobler to get an education and a good career, instead of expecting to marry and have a husband take care of me. Instead of acknowledging that I wanted to marry and have a family, I joked about going to college for an education instead of an M.R.S. What I've sown, I now reap.
So, I can stay here whining about the life I didn't choose, and which has its own bumps and detours along the way, or I can give the life I have to God - it is what I have, after all - and let Him do what He wants with it.
"Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm-My great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will My people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will My people be shamed" (Joel 2:23-27).