I look around the church and see the many familiar faces who make up the congregation. I see the grandpas whose wisdom and gentle smiles remind me of my own grandfather. I see the grandmas—the kind older ladies who pass out donuts and juice to my kids after church and give me an understanding nod as I ask for an extra napkin.
I see the seasoned moms and dads gathered with their teenagers and the younger couples taking turns keeping their toddlers entertained and passing the babies back and forth.
I look to my left and right, and take in the sight of my own precious boys. I see my oldest, swinging his legs and thumbing through the hymnal. I see my youngest, his head resting against my shoulder as the music from the choir fills our ears.
I am surrounded by a sea of believers, and yet, I still feel very much alone. Because there is one person I don’t see. Someone who is greatly missed each week. And that person is my husband.
When it comes to taking my kids to church, I’m on my own.
This certainly wasn’t what I imagined for our future family when we got married. I knew I would probably have to take a stronger leadership role when it came to the spiritual growth of our kids, but I was OK with that. I thought as long as he was a believer, and supported me raising our children to be believers, that would be enough.
But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I didn’t know while my own faith would remain strong, his would slowly fade away.
I didn’t know how lonely it would feel to walk into church each week without him by my side.
I didn’t know how much it would hurt every time my kids would ask why Daddy wasn’t coming to church with us.
I didn’t know how heavy it would feel to be the only one carrying the weight of our children’s spiritual development.
I didn’t know how challenging marriage would feel without God at the center of it, pulling my husband and I together.
I didn’t know how much it would hurt to realize he wasn’t praying for me or our kids.
I didn’t know any of these things.
I often wonder what it would be like to be married to a man with a strong faith. I can only imagine how meaningful it would be to go to church as a family and what a blessing it would be for our children to see their parents united in this special way.
To be perfectly honest, sometimes when I see couples in church, jealousy rears its ugly head.
But I cling to hope.
Because I believe God sees how hard I am trying. I believe he understands the pain in my heart and knows how difficult it is for me to show up week after week on my own.
I believe God is chasing after my husband, and he will never ever stop.
I believe he will give me the strength and the words I need to guide my children’s hearts and souls toward Christ, and that he will send other people into their lives to do the same.
And I believe when I’m feeling lonely in that pew and my heart is aching, he joins me there, and wraps his loving arms around my family.
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