All the teenagers sit on the first few pews on the left side of the sanctuary at our Church. Not sure why. It’s always been that way even before I was in the youth group. Probably something the pastor instituted as a way of keeping teens with raging hormones and wandering minds in line, at least during his sermon.

Yesterday, as the congregation stood belting out the latest praise and worship song, I noticed a young boy who had just moved up to the youth group from children’s church a few Sundays ago making his way down the aisle to the front pew where all the boys his age sat. The pew was already full. He looked around as he got closer and closer to the pew but all the “youth group” pews were taken. Not knowing what to do, he stood by his buddies at the end of that front row. I only saw all this because I sit as close to the teen section as possible hoping to blend in. Unfortunately, no one has been fooled yet.

I waited anxiously for the pastor to say “you may be seated”. Part of me wanted to watch this scene unfold as the already full row of standing boys tried to wedge themselves in the pew just to see if one ended up rolling down into the pulpit. The other part of me ached thinking that the pew was already full and this sweet boy standing awkwardly at the end of the row would be left the odd man out to sit alone on a nearby empty pew.

I had been that awkward teen and more than likely you have, too. If you say you haven’t, you either skipped middle school altogether or are flat-out lying. I knew his mind had to be racing trying to mentally measure each kid’s rear and the length of the pew doing some pretty complicated math calculations to see if his would fit. As memories of painfully waiting to be picked for kickball and desperately praying to be asked to slow dance at seventh grade school dances flooded my memory, I saw something unfold that made my maschera slightly run.

A nearby twenty-something newlywed whispered in his wife’s ear, reached down, grabbed his bible and made his way to the front pew, nonchalantly tapping the boy with side swept Justin Bieberish bangs, motioning him to the empty pew. As I caught a glimpse of the smile on this young man’s face realizing he wouldn’t have to sit alone, a tear rolled down my cheek.

How often have I felt awkward, out-of-place, uncomfortable and alone? More times that I cared to remember. It was in that moment watching the duo that I realized there had always been someone out there gently tapping me on the shoulder, sharing a pew with me so I wouldn’t have to sit alone. Jesus.

I didn’t have to do this weight loss thing alone and that was alright by me.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.