She sighed, glancing behind her with a pulling longing to run. The line was too long and too cramped and too open to view. There was no way she could back out of it now and walk out the door and to the parking lot and into her car and onto the highway and drive, drive, drive until she reached the safety of her own front yard. She hadn’t planned to be here, fighting these feelings that threatened to devour her.
She had purposely NOT brought a tasty dish for the fifth Sunday potluck. She had, in fact, entertained the notion of skipping church altogether, specifically to avoid this moment. She had entertained it so closely that she had waited until the last minute to take her morning shower and begin the practiced task of preparing to put on her “happy face” and dress. Her duty to the children in her little Sunday School class had prevailed over her desire to hide. She knew that God was faithful and would get her through the rough spots. He had done it so often these past two years.
Her weapon had been to think of the blessings she received from seeing those children’s faces, from hearing them recite Bible verses, and from watching them respond to her feeble attempts to teach them God’s Word. She had also remembered all the times the Lord had spoken to her through one of Brother Jim’s messages or the encouraging hug from a friend. Focusing on these treasures, she had decided that making it to church was worth the struggle. But, she hadn’t planned on staying for the potluck.
At the end of the services when she had started down the aisle toward the exit instead of the fellowship hall, Mrs. Miriam Mobley had intercepted her. “Oh, sweetheart, aren’t you staying for potluck?”
“I forgot all about it, Mrs. Mobley, and I didn’t bring anything,” she had delivered the careful lie.
“That’s perfectly fine, Honey. No one will even know--we always have plenty of food, and we’re going to sing afterwards. It’s always such a blessing.”
Ever willing to please, she had reversed her plans and was now in the very spot she had worked so desperately to avoid. Mrs. Mobley was somewhere toward the end of the line greeting other people with that warmness that demonstrated the Love of Christ in action.
All around her she saw what hurt so deeply and left her sinking in isolation, even though she was surrounded by people she loved who loved her in return. There were whole families--mothers fixing plates for their eager children and dads saving seats for their wives. There were people laughing and eating and enjoying each other’s fellowship—talking, talking, talking about their normal every-day lives and swapping recipes and stories. The talk was so loud that it exploded in her ears and raised swells of loss in the recesses of the stomach she was supposed to be preparing to fill. She saw them all but was convinced that not one of them truly saw her.
No one saw what was glaringly obvious. She was alone. Her two teen-aged sons were sitting right now at the weekend dinner table in their father’s girlfriend’s house, eating food prepared by her, that other woman. These faces all around her now, they smiled at her, but they didn’t see her. They didn’t hear the silent wailing of her heart.
She knew she couldn’t do this. Not today. “Oh, Lord, forgive me,” was the whispered prayer of her heart as she purposely removed herself from the line and rushed headlong out the closest door she could spot.
Once under the false security of her seatbelt, she let loose the floodgate and stopped fighting her tears. She didn’t resent any of them for having what she wanted so badly. That wasn’t it at all. She just didn’t have the strength to fight for one more moment the lying feeling that she no longer belonged among them. Although she knew her place in the Body of Christ was secure, she also knew that being there at a potluck was unbearable today. Pulling into her driveway, a realization washed over her. She wondered how many people in her little church were also avoiders of potlucks—and doing it quietly and secretly. She wondered how often--before the terrible thing happened to her--she had failed to see. And, just how long she would fight lies.
This is a fictional account based on real-life events—a culminating story whose characters’ names have been changed or purposely left out. It is the one-story-tale of many moments, all bound together into one event, that illustrates a recurring battle which many of us do not even realize rages every Sunday morning.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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