I don’t know how or when it started, but I would guess that it was after a fight.
You know how some Sunday mornings go: a rush to get out the door, a disagreement about whatever, some lingering bitterness from harsh words exchanged the night before.
I hate those Sundays, I’ll admit. I don’t want to worship, and I certainly don’t want to worship next to him. But our seating arrangement (yes, our family likes its rituals and where we sit in church is definitely one of them) mandates that I sit next to my husband in church.
Usually, I like that arrangement. I think it speaks something subtle, yet significant, to our girls. At least it speaks something to me. It speaks that we are in this together—church, parenting, life—and that we do this all side-by-side. No kids sitting between us. It’s been that way from the beginning.
Oh sure, others do it differently. Others serve as gatekeepers to the pew—no escaping, kids! Others might not even think about their subtle seating chart or might not even have one.
But we do. And on those Sunday mornings when things don’t quite go as planned or when there might be open hostility between us, I dread our seating arrangement.
And I especially dread the benediction.
Because some years ago, I’m not sure when, and probably in the middle of some argument about something completely insignificant but one in which I harrumphed my way through church, my husband took my hand. During the benediction.
And now it’s such a habit that there’s no getting out of it.
May I let you in on a little secret? I love it. Because when he takes my hand during the final blessing--the "go in peace"--I am reunited with my love and recommitted to my marriage.
He takes my hand when we’re fighting, silently.
He takes my hand when we’re united, completely.
He takes my hand when we’re afraid.
He takes my hand when we’re sad.
He takes my hand when we’re in the middle of a difficult decision.
He takes my hand when the week has been rough or when it has been joyful.
He takes my hand when I want to run and when I want to stay.
This small grasping, a seemingly insignificant coming together that is probably overlooked by everyone around us, reminds us that we are one. Always.
No matter what we were when we stepped into the sanctuary, we are a couple when we walk out.
I’ve wanted to write about this for a while, but today I read about R.C. Sproul’s regret that he didn’t hold his wife’s hand more when she was alive. I’ve had many of the same regrets, but one I will never carry is that we missed the most important moment (to us) to hold each other’s hand.