I was never a back-row Baptist growing up. My parents made sure we were front-and-center people. When I was on my own, I spent a few years migrating to the middle, then married a front-and-center person who also likes to show up at least ten minutes early to everything. Needless to say, both of those ideals got tossed out the window a
round the time exactly when Pape arrived on scene.
Now, on Sundays, you can find Cheikh on the back row on the edge of an aisle. There’s a stroller parked next to him that looks like it’s filled with every possible piece of baby equipment we might need just in case for some reason we can’t make it home for three weeks. I’m usually standing in the very, very back, bouncing and swaying Pape to sleep. Due to the unusually high percentage of babies at our church, I’m not often alone back there, but am joined by a whole gaggle of other moms with babies tied and strapped on every which way.
From where I was standing this morning, I had a perfect view of five couples in the back row. They varied in age, number of years married, number of kids, careers, experiences living overseas… you name it. High-heeled pumps, sports sandals, boots, designer sandals, Crocs, cute flip-flops, tennis shoes, flats… Even their shoes showed how different they all were.
But they had one thing in common. On a Sunday morning, they came and sat together with their husband/wife.
I’m pretty sure that every single one of those couples has problems. They get frustrated, disagree with each other, say things they wish they could take back and I suspect some of them don’t fold the laundry the way their spouse has asked them to time and time again.
But this morning, these five couples made the choice to come. To sit together. To hold each other’s hands, to smile when they caught the other’s eye, to put their arm around the other’s shoulders, to lean in and share a comment on the sermon… to settle into their place next to the one they promised to be faithful to, even when life has been harder than you ever imagined possible.
These five couples had no idea that I was watching them (and of course, listening to every word you said, Joel!). Yet in that 30 minutes, I saw every single couple do something that showed that they were choosing this day to love each other.
In a world where we hear about so many marriages ending or seemingly without hope, I saw people in the back row living out a beautiful truth today. It’s a choice you have to make… in order to make it.
The photos in this post are self-portraits. I read about them last week and was challenged to give it a whirl. The first ones I tried didn’t feel like me at all. But these – taken after our walk along the ocean road, all out of breath and with Pape peeking out from the mbott – felt more like me.