Hey Church, can we please stop doing this?
It's been a tough week. Our world has seen unthinkable violence. Turmoil seems to be the baseline. Do we let the Syrian refugees in? Do we keep them out? What's the right answer? Truth be told, I'm torn myself. But that's not what this post is about. Sometimes the world's issues become too heavy and I need to escape. Today, I need some nonsense. I need to read something that is completely inconsequential. Maybe you need that too. This is an essay I wrote a while back with hopes of guest posting it to another person's website but decided to save it for my own instead. It's about silly things Christians do and is not meant to be taken seriously. Hope you enjoy it!
Do we have to? Do we really have to hold hands while we pray? Is holding hands a necessary means to be closer to God? Is locking sweaty hands with our pew buddy a must during corporate prayer? I don’t know about the rest of the congregation but I am all for getting rid of awkward handholding with strangers during church.
I’ve been a churchgoer for 30+ years and am well versed in this type of prayer practice. The pastor wants to make the congregation feel more connected. The small group leader wants to create more intimacy. Whatever the case may be, I get it. We all want to “do life together” and “fellowship” but why does that require clasping sweaty palms with our neighbor? And if we have to grasp hands can we put a time cap on the person praying? Say 2-3 minutes? This gives enough time to create intimacy before the glands go into moisture overload into your neighbor’s hand. Holding hands much longer and I feel it’s imperative to let go and wipe my hand on my pants. Or worse, I need to cough and use my hand to cover my mouth then what do I do? Do I re-enter into handholding with my germ-infested hand? Leave the hand hanging there and accidentally touch pinkies with the person’s hand I just dropped? You could cut the tension with a knife. And I don’t know about you but when you take away the use of my hands something on my body immediately becomes itchy. Like the minute I can’t use my hands I feel the need to scratch my nose. Then I try to do the weird shoulder-rub to the face because I don’t want to let go of my new “friend’s” hand and make him uncomfortable. I don’t want him to feel like I don’t want to be close to him even though I don’t know his name. During these times the last thing I’m thinking about is the prayer being said. My self-consciousness has taken over and left me incapable of thinking about anything else.
So here’s my solution. Instead of handholding during prayers, let’s shoulder-up to our neighbor. If we have to be touching, why not just allow our upper arms to touch? This way, we are a Wall for Jesus. This is much stronger than Red Rover handholding. No one breaks through the wall. Usually everyone’s upper arms are covered so skin-to-skin contact is minimal, unless it’s summer and someone decided to sport his finest muscle tee to church. (#sunsoutgunsout) Odds are he isn’t coming to church immediately after a workout so his arms should be cool and dry. And if at some point you have the urge to hold hands, just reach over and grab the one on the other side of your body. Everyone wins. And you won’t hurt your own feelings when your hands get sweaty and you have to wipe them off.
Does anyone else get antsy about holding hands with strangers?