John Telgren

He nervously stepped out of the car that Sunday morning. It almost seemed surreal. He had just moved into the city a week ago and still hadn't gotten everything unpacked. Things had been difficult for him as a single parent. He didn't know anyone yet and felt isolated in this city. Perhaps that would now change after going to church.

The pain of his recent divorce was still very raw, so he felt somewhat guarded. Maybe the pain and feeling of betrayal would subside. He looked across the parking lot at the front door. He was just glad to get to church. This would be a fresh start. He reached down into the car for the infant car carrier and headed in.

Once inside, a friendly lady greeted him and gave him a bulletin. He wasn't sure where to go, so he followed the others until he found the auditorium. The message was motivational and it felt good to be able to sing and do communion. Then he learned that there would be a potluck afterwards. Good, he didn't have to cook. At lunch, he juggling his plate and the car carrier, but finally managed to get it together and find a place to sit.

Some of the members of the church came and sat down at the table. They started up a conversation to try and get acquainted. They asked about his job, where he was from, and how old the baby was. He began to feel comfortable at this church. They seemed friendly enough. Then one of the members asked about the baby's mom.

"Is she sick this morning?" "No," he replied. "Is she working?" "No," he replied again. "Well, invite her to come too. We would like to meet her." "I can't, "he replied, "I don't have a wife anymore, she left me. It is just me and my son."

The conversation came to a screeching halt. The long silence seemed to go on forever. One of the members broke the silence with, "oh." That was it. There was no more conversation. Eventually, the members began to talk again, but only visited among themselves.

The feeling of isolation came back. He began to feel even more conspicuous. He felt ruined, he would never fit in as a single parent. Normally, he would have felt at home. But things had now changed and would never be the same. Suddenly, church seemed like a strange and foreign place to him. What happened? He tried going again the following week, but still no one talked to him. It fact, it seemed people avoided having to talk to him. He couldn't bring himself to return a third time. He still had a longing to go, but this gradually faded until he found himself comfortable in the world.

Fortunately, he eventually found his way back. Years later, he pondered what had happened. Did those people really set out to shun him because he didn't fit the image the church wanted to portray? Or did they just not know how to deal with a freshly divorced single parent? Either way, he determined never to be that way as a Christian to anyone. It was not godly because every human has been created in God's image and is therefore precious to God. He realized that even the little things make a big difference in communicating worth and dignity to people. If people were precious to God, then he would treat them as God's precious creation.