She whipped the car into the church parking lot, pulling the keys out of the ignition and shoving them into her purse. Being late was nothing new to us, but it usually came with some embarrassment. This time, however, being late was a relief. We hoped to slip in without having to talk with people or look them in the eye.
We approached the door, our knotted stomachs victims of anxiety. It was our first time in years attending a church service. Most people had their Bibles, but how could we carry one when our hands were so full of baggage and burdens it was all we could do to put one foot in front of the other?
Everyone was standing and singing. Another relief. We snuck in, sliding into the back where no one could see if we knew the words to the songs or what to do next. I looked around at the families there together all neat and composed. They knew the words. They knew what to do. They could smile and laugh, and they had answers.
I sank a little deeper into my seat.
Even if we tried to blend in, we couldn’t. We stood out. It was just me and my mom again, back to how it had been when I was born. But then she had gotten married to a different man and things went from bad to worse. There were the arguments, improprieties, betrayal, and the deception that piled up and broke us, culminating in their separation and leaving us feeling more used, unloved, and unwanted than ever before. And here we were now, spotlighting our problems before people who didn’t appear to have any.
We weren’t smiling. We were crushed, and we had questions.
We didn’t know where else to turn, so we turned to the church. We thought it would be a safe place. We thought whatever we needed, we might be able to find there.