i think it's great when churches can attract people of varying nationalities, wallet size & lifestyle. i think everyone should feel welcome at church, and yet... i've had some interesting experiences with those other people at church in the past year.
around christmas time brooke & i were getting onto the escalator & an odd woman jumped in between us. brooke squeezed past her on the single file ride to get in front of me rather behind the strange woman. after she did, the woman leaned against my back from the step directly behind me & started singing opera loudly into my ear. later in the service as the worship was winding down, the music went low & there was mostly just humming or quiet, that same woman started belting out the star spangled banner. she was allowed to go on for a minute before our pastor stepped over to her & next thing i knew, her solo ended. i wanted to know what he said to her because i have no idea how a situation like that should be handled.
there's a man who attends regularly who gives off an air of homelessness. he sits in the same section where we generally park ourselves & a few months ago i was pretty sure on one occassion that he was talking to himself, and not just talking, he was swearing to himself too. it was vaguely amusing to me in a twisted sort of way. i was glad there weren't kids sitting near him because it would be a shame for them to learn the bad words at church.
well, today we were sitting in the same row as that dude. as the music wound down, i heard him start mumbling. it was louder than a whisper, but quieter than talking & definitely in the growly sort of speech category. the first thing i clearly heard him say was "your f%cking mother's a bitch." he kept it up for a few minutes, dropping an arsenal of F bombs. there was something very disturbing about sitting next to him, albeit with seven empty seats between us (yes, i counted) and listening to him cussing up a storm right there in church. i'm pretty irreverent in a lot of ways because i don't think Jesus was the reverent type, but this was over the line, even for me. i was getting a distinct vibe of a spiritual nature, and not the kind you hope to encounter when you're sitting in church (or anywhere else for that matter). i've had some dealings with such things in my life & i felt that same feeling that i've felt in those situations before, which just made me all the more tense.
a couple who was sitting right in front of him got up & moved. i've never seen them before, but i hope they weren't scared off. people started glancing around & i hate to admit it, but i put my shoes back on & moved my purse close to my hand so that if i needed to leave quickly, i'd be ready. i couldn't concentrate on anything the pastor was saying, even though, based on the pictures, it seemed like it was probably a good one. chris got up and went to speak to someone in leadership about this guy & i felt my heart thumping when he got up because then i was alone w/ the disturbed man. he kept zipping & unzipping some little bag & repeatedly changing cd's in his player that i could distinctly hear coming through the headphones in his ears.
all through the service, i kept thinking & praying that God had something going on that would end well. i cautiously asked Him if there was anything i was supposed to be doing (i was kinda hoping He'd tell me to move, but i was willing to listen if He had another suggestion) but i got nothing. i couldn't even close my eyes to pray because i felt like i needed to keep them open & be ready for the slightest movement in my peripheral vision so i could snatch up my purse & haul ass if i needed to. i know that makes me a coward and probably an un-compassionate one at that, but that's how i felt.
i feel like i failed somehow. i'm not even sure what i failed at. maybe just by feeling fearful, as if God couldn't or wouldn't protect me if protection was needed. i was left wondering if i really believe that God's got my back.