When my family began attending the local Christian Reformed church, Mr. de Zeeuw was one of the first people I remember, though I wouldn’t really get to know him for years to come. He was an older, white-haired man who spoke with a thick Dutch accent and used a walker. Most days, we sat in the pew behind him.
Back then I was a moody 10-year-old harboring a newfound hatred for church. It wasn’t because of a lack of faith or resentment toward singing the same type of songs every week. No, I believed in God and I loved to sing. But I also really loved my former church—a small, Evangelical Free church where everyone knew my name, and where I felt comfortable being myself. This very large, ethnic church where no oneat all knew me just wasn’t cutting it.
I especially disliked the beginning of the service. That’s when everyone was supposed to shake hands and greet each other. I constantly hoped we’d be super late and miss it. Sometimes I even went to the bathroom just to get out of this horrid meeting.
These deep feelings came out of an even bigger yearning. I longed for relationship, fulfillment, and community. But I thought those things were impossible among a church full of strangers, a church with few fellow 10-year-olds.