The Long Walk

I woke up this morning excited. After attending off and on for three years, Lee and I were finally going to join our church. Or as the pastor liked to say, “make it official.”
We followed our usual routine – leaving in plenty of time to have a cup of coffee at a great coffee house on Chippewa Square. But as I sipped my latte (with a shot of hazelnut), my stomach started to turn. I don’t think it was the hazelnut. It was nerves.
As we sat in the sanctuary, I looked around and felt satisfied that we were making the right decision. The church was full of warm, welcoming people. Their doctrines are similar to mine, and the pastor seems genuinely caring. And it doesn’t hurt that the church is in a great old building on a wonderful square.
But as the pastor neared the end of his sermon, I actually started to sweat. I have walked down the aisle to join 2 other churches – but those were different times. My dad was the pastor, everyone knew me, and everyone was staring at him, not me. It felt strange to be joining a church that wasn’t his.
As we all stood to sing, Lee and I looked at each other and then slipped out of the pew. We began walking down the aisle. Suddenly it was a very, very long aisle. I could feel all the eyes on the back of my head as we walked.
The pastor greeted us happily, and had us sit down while the song continued. It felt like a very long song.
Then he introduced us. So many eyes peered back at us, and it was a very strange feeling. I have always thought of churches in the terms of my “church family.” We were asking to be a part of their “family,” and I barely knew any of them. But I guess joining was the first big step. And if it felt strange to me, I know it must’ve felt strange to Lee. But I was so thankful he was standing there with me, and I grabbed his hand.
After the service, people lined up to shake our hands and welcome us. They were all very nice, and I look forward to getting to know them better. There was a church-wide luncheon after the service that I had planned to attend – but after shaking so many hands, smiling, and feeling utterly on display, we decided we needed a break.
But I’m proud of us. It was easy to just go to church and not make a committment to join. It was comfortable. But I believe we have things to offer this church, and I know it will offer a church family to us in return. It was a long walk down that aisle and I could’ve thrown up on the pastor’s shoes, but I believe the long walks of life are easier sometimes when you have faith and a church family by your side.