Haven't you ever found it peculiar that no matter what denomination you are, organized religion is always called "the church"? It's something that we have that's tangible, that we can thank when something good happens, and blame when something goes awry. The church I work for has an amazing pastor who gives amazing sermons about this very topic. Organized religion isn't always what it's cracked up to be, but that's okay. Not much is. All we can do is try, fail, try, fail, and try again!
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me."
I think it's this exact 'if you fail you must try again' attitude that prevents people like myself from attending a form of worship, sometimes. You know that feeling (well, most of you). You're in a new town, you want to attend a new church, you're single - or others are unwilling to go with you - and you have to make that dreaded decision. Do I go alone or do I stay at home? You begin to feel like a failure for even asking the question, because you know you should be going, but you dread the way everyone is going to treat you at a new church.
Let's be very honest here for a moment: going to church completely alone blows.
There. I said it. It's out in the open.
It's awful. Not only are you aware that you are completely alone, but everyone else is painfully aware that you are a total newb. The 'where is your husband, dear?'s are still ringing in my ears from a failed church attempt earlier this year. Then you explain you're single, no partner, no family with you, and gasp no significant other of any kind, either.
But there is this wonderful thing about going to a new church completely alone. Everyone sort of pities the newb. Either that or everyone wants to know you're business, but hey, at least they're talking with you. So they'll talk with you, you'll learn everyone's names (or try), and they welcome you - they help you, they smile at you, they like you.
You. That silly person who'd dreaded walking in those doors not even forty minutes prior. The one who had prayed to God, and asked Him to show you a sign that you didn't have to go that weekend. The one who had asked God to give you a sudden bout of pneumonia, so this little momentary lapse of judgement could be excused, and you would not have to be around the awkwardness that comes along with meeting new people alone.
These people want to meet you. Yes, even that you. The moment that terrified you now brings you joy.
You come to realize, these people are just like you. They'd probably fear it too if you were in their position, and learn that this is exactly where you were meant to be. God helped you overcome your doubts and fears, and brought you here to be loved by those around you. This is what He wants for you, and you have unknowingly listened.
It does good to remember this little jem too:
"The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid; what can anyone do to me?"
As always, I end with a picture of the greatest puppy in the world.