I remember clearly when I was growing up as a child that there was this older lady in the church who sat in the back row by the center aisle seat at every service so that she can watch every single thing that everyone did so she could correct them if they were out of line in disrupting the service.
She was always meticulously dressed down from head to toe with absolutely NOTHING out of place in her garb and it seemed as though she had a never ending supply of “church hats” because as long as I knew of her to attend the church, she never wore the same hat twice!
And the funniest realization is that you never saw her arrive late to the service EVER because you never seemed to ever see her arrive! She was always there! I don’t care how early you got to the church this woman was on point sitting in that very same seat slightly rocking back and forth humming some old Negro spirituals under her breath as though she was deep in prayer!
She had a no nonsense attitude about her and hardly ever cracked a smile because worshiping the Lord was some very serious business to her. In her opinion the church wasn’t a place to socialize, it wasn’t a place for the kids to run up and down to play…….noooooo! And it REALLY wasn’t the place to dump those unruly brats to force someone else to look after them while an unfit mother and wayward woman stayed home to get her freakish “groove” on! This was a serious sanctuary of worship and no one was going to indulge in blasphemy toward this holy ground if she had her say so!
Now after a short time you realized WHY she always sat in the back of the church during the service, she was the unofficial self designated usher!
She actually was the one who had MORE “pull” and MORE “respect” than those who were officially there AS the ushers! She would oftentimes be seen putting the male ushers in check if they seemed to be “helping out” that “visiting from out of state” pretty shapely female guest a bit TOO long!
Diligently she sat perched from that back seat like a hawk waiting for any violation to transpire which would then make you her prey! You couldn’t even “peek” during prayer time nor could you sneak in a piece of chewing gum in your mouth from fifteen rows away no matter HOW slow you tried to chew that gum she would catch you within moments and make you spit it out immediately.
Although she possessed a stern demeanor, she wasn’t necessarily evil, just as much as she was there to insure that the service moved along smoothly deceit and in order, you never had to look too far for a napkin when you sneezed. It was as though she was there at the right moment to be there to aid you in whatever you needed.
Her medium sized designer church bag and purse while looking attractive and on the conservative side because of the classic styling, always had the answer to a seemingly unexpected personal hygiene tragedy that couldn’t be ignored and would almost certainly disrupt the service because of the immediate need that had to be attended to.
She was the absolute best friend have when those early monthly visitations arrived just when you as a woman were up next to sing your gospel selection in ten minutes while wearing that bright white dress that would have showed every “ketchup” stain if you risked taking the stage without first inquiring if your friend possessed the appropriate amenities in her handbag.
And like the ever helpful warrior for Christ that she is, she escorted you to the restroom making sure that everything went alright giving you words of encouragement so that you maintained a mindset of being in the spirit to go back out there and bring the house down!
You couldn’t have done it without her!
The mere fact that she had what you needed in her bag was a testimony to her kind loving selfless unselfish spirit. Because not for nothing, but a woman of her years didn’t need to carry “that” around with her as she hasn’t had the need for “it” probably in the last twenty years!
That bottomless old bag of hers seem to have everything that you would ever need in it, the local Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy had NOTHING on her!
So beneath the serious no nonsense exterior of this woman who was not only a staple in the church, but in the community as well. The respect and admiration that this woman carries is immeasurable as it reaches far beyond the comprehension of most.
There isn’t a church in the city that doesn’t know her as she gets a treatment reserved for world dignitaries when she visits outside of her home church to the other houses of worship. Yet she doesn’t crave any attention whatsoever because she is quick to tell you that she doesn’t come to be seen, she comes to worship God and serve her Lord Jesus Christ.
Her often overlooked power and respect will come to light every now and then if you pay enough attention. During the church service she is the covert conductor of the entire itinerary whether you know it or not. You will notice that the Pastor while preaching, will constantly glance her way not because he just happens to be randomly looking at her but he is making sure that he is flowing in the Word correctly because SHE knows the Holy Bible through and through from cover to cover and can quote any scripture from the various versions of the Bible verbatim in an effortless manner!
While rappers Lil Wayne, Jay-Z or Drake can “spit” freestyle rap in amazing fashion off of the top of their heads to the amazement of their adoring fans, this little old woman after a lifetime of studying God’s word has no peer when it comes down to her ability to “spit” scripture! No need to ever open your Bible in front of her to dispute scripture, for she will tell you exactly what it is before your fingers find the page!
Because of the vast respect that she receives for her knowledge of the Word, a mere glance from her to an upstart Pastor or the slight shaking of the head let’s him know that he was “off” in how he is feeding the flock. But she has enough dignity within and respect for the sanctuary that she would never attempt to upstage the Pastor because of a small technicality. “That glance” has been known to cause services to cease temporarily while the Pastor discreetly convenes with her out of earshot of the rest of the congregation outside for a few short moments so that he can find out WHERE he was off so that he can then return to the pulpit so he can “get it right.”
Oftentimes she knew that Pastor from when he was a wild snotty nosed kid and he grew up seeing her as a diligent warrior of the Lord and has the utmost respect for her impeccable walk with Christ.
The “Church Lady” gets respect from every level of society as she can be seen sometimes walking through the most dangerous of neighborhoods fearlessly at night to save souls and do Gods work after leaving the Wednesday evening service while humming a hymnal under her breath. The dangerous unpredictable characters and elements of the underworld in the streets all know who this aged vulnerable looking woman is and wouldn’t dare see any harm done to her person as they would surely seal their eternal doom into the pits of hellfire for committing such an unspeakable deed. This is universal! She can travel through the ‘hood of another faraway State and know that the Lords protective hand won’t see any harm come to her as she is “covered in the blood!”
Even the criminals who indulge in the illegal financial ecosystem of that same underworld all pause their transactions no matter how lucrative it may be to tip their hat in respect to this woman to whom they have know all of their life that wants them to “come on down sometime to hear God’s word” and has never given up on the hope that they too will give THAT life up so that they can gain eternal life through being saved and having a testimony to share to the glory of God.
Yes, they don’t make them like her anymore. The stereotypical “Church Lady” can still be seen in the communities and churches across this land but they seem to be a dying breed at best. If you ask me, the day you can’t find a “Church Lady” is the day that you know it is merely a matter of days or even hours that the Lord will show His face.
Our church ladies are a staple, a strong common thread that has held our community together from way back in the time of slavery. They are and always have been that unseen protective membrane that has maintained a particular level of high moral excellence and standards that have now proportionately been reduced in our lives due to her diminishing numbers over time.
Could you imagine how our young carry on today if they were to even THINK about sagging their pants or dressing provocative like many of our young girls do now there would be a price to pay indeed! Not only would the Church Ladies of our communities band together in an independent crusade to bring back decency to our youth but there would be a whole lot of broken backsides left in her path! No hurricane can rip through a neighborhood like our that church lady when she is in the spirit doing the work of the Lord!
First of all back in the day before her numbers have been greatly diminished our youth wouldn’t even have sunk this low in the way that they carry themselves. Our church lady would have remain on post like a sentinel looking out for the slightest transgression wherever so travels and wouldn’t hesitate to “correct and instruct” our children on the proper way to carry themselves as young gentlemen and young ladies.
If our youngsters today had that old church lady to go home to as a grandmother then that positioning alone would have prevented our society from taking the the extreme downward plunge that it has experienced in recent years.
If our churches today had that old church lady present in the same numbers that we did back in the day, we wouldn’t be carrying on there like it is a pick up spot for our next sexual escapade or as a “social club replacement!”
If that old church lady were around today in full force then maybe our Pastors wouldn’t be the punks that that have become in being too afraid to point out the transgressions being boldly committed in their faces out of being afraid of being called a bully or being considered intolerant!
If that old church lady were still here our houses of worship would be the strong spiritual training grounds that would prepare us for a lifetime of battle with the negative forces of this world and infuse us with the wisdom to maintain a productive righteous life that would lead us straight up the path to an eternal life with the Creator and not into the pits of hell with your nemesis!
Without her in our midst we have become a “loose fabric” that lacks the thread of moral strength that her presence has given us to hold us together when temptation made us weak. That old warrior of a church lady was a gift from God and if you have the pleasure of ever crossing paths with a Church Lady in your daily walk PLEASE walk up to her and thank her for all that she has done in her life as an example to everyone being the guideposts to a life of righteousness.
Oh how I shun to think where we are going and what we are becoming in this world without the strong stern yet loving hand of our beloved Church Lady to guide us through the deceptions in this world that she has commandeered us through over a lifetime.
And when you really think about it, shouldn’t we all now pick up the mantle that she has always carried with dignity to become that spiritual “Church Lady” for each other? Sure we do! And if we submit to her strict standards of living then we too will join her in Heaven with our names written in the Book of Life.
Now THAT’S an eternal benefit that’s worth living a righteous for!
Thank you Church Lady for showing us the difference…….
I miss you and will never forget your walk…….