The pews filled quickly as I searched for my friend. A sea of smiling faces, dressed in their finest attire gathered to worship. I take the seat beside her as the music begins. Surrounded by couples and families, I fix my gaze on the screen and pour my heart out to God. But I don't miss it. A woman leans in and whispers something in her husband's ear. He pulls her close and they worship within each other's embrace. My heart sinks. I remember the days when my beloved stood beside me. The days when we stood arm in arm before a holy God in adoration. Tears swell and I fight to stuff the pain down. The pastor continues and we open our Bibles. I'm focused on the scripture but I don't miss it. Just down the pew a man reaches over and clasps his wife's hand as they read the Word together. The pain surrounds me.
For years I've desperately pretended not to notice the vast loneliness next to me. Yet, it burns more than I care to admit.
My mind flashes back to that first Sunday. I stood at the door watching his break lights in the distance, just hours before church. That night sleep never came, just promises whispered from my Father. Sore from grieving I wandered into the church as if nothing had changed. I slipped in next to a friend and her husband. In front of me, behind me and everywhere I could see were happy couples and godly daddies. Tears fell from the first moment till the last. Then 7 days later we did it again. And then 7 days later we did it again. For months and then years I would come. The tears became less frequent and the friends began to fade into the crowd.
For years, the seat beside me has stood empty and my heart cried out for relief. I find my mind wandering into dangerous waters as I imagine what it would be like to fill that seat and once again worship as a family. I've entertained the thought that perhaps God has someone else planned for me. I've listened to the pleas of a single man and found myself wanting to say yes.
But this morning I watch as a godly daddy holds hands with his bride over their open Bible. The beauty overwhelms. One man, one woman...forever.
Suddenly the words of the pastor come back into focus... There is a difference between knowledge of God's word and acceptance. His words sear my heart. I'm embarased that I haven't a clue what he has even said up until this point, but have no doubt that God intended his sentence to invade. I know the promise, but I don't always accept it. I plead for it to be different. Beg that the pain would be taken from me and all the while my gaze is fixed on the one thing that has no significance in my life.
I glance at the empty seat and the folded hands over their Bible. Tears swell as I remember. I'm saving this seat for my beloved. No one else can ever fill it.
How about you? Will you save that seat?
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