It’s not easy for me to fit in. Sometimes I try to blend, but it never works. My shocking white hair emphasizes my white skin. My skin is actually not white as most of you don’t actually have black skin. Mine is more of a tan, given the time I spend in the sun; yours is shades of brown.

“Looks like you took a wrong turn somewhere, sweetie,” is written all over your faces. You shake my hand and give me the courtesy hug, but you can’t hide your confusion and curiosity.

I don’t even try to sneak in anymore; I walk tall into your sanctuary. I sit by myself and I smile and nod and shake hands and hug and wear the same expression you do. I clap and praise and stomp and sway with the same soul you do. I wear my style not like you but like me. I see your glances stealing my way. I’m not intimidated or offended. I’m here to worship the same God you do. I’m here to close my eyes and find Him as you do what you have to do to find Him or be found.

Sometimes I find Him in the music. Sometimes I find Him in the message. Sometimes I find Him in the silence. Sometimes I find Him in a voice, a solo, a scream, a spoken tongue. Sometimes I find Him in your dance or mine. I know it baffles you that I know the lyrics to your songs and my rhythm never misses yours as we bounce.

I watch your whines and wails and weaves, yes I do. But not to be entertained. Sure, I study you as you study me and my hair. I bite down on my bitter-tasting teeth to find the God I sometimes feel has left me though I know He hasn’t. I come to the place I know I have the best chance of finding Him. I come to the place where I not only hear the music but feel it move through my limbs like lava. I come to the place where your pastor’s cadence echoes in my ears for hours or days. Yes, I know the meaning behind that, too. I understand the rise and fall and pause and sing-song of his voice that assists his message in staying in me.

I also see you walk the aisles to get a closer look at me. I see you watch me from the pulpit and sound booth and choir. I see you study my clothes and my carriage and wonder, Who is this white girl?

I’m not here to spy on you; I’m not here to steal from you; I’m too selfish. I’m here for me. I’m not afraid or ashamed to step into your church and worship your God who is also mine. I’m not going to crumble under your stare.

He says, “The Holy Ghost is in here today. Some of you sit there unmoved and dignified. You have to leave early? See ya later! We’re gettin’ our praise on today.”

And I leave early. Didn’t find Him today. Maybe next week.

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  1. I’m glad you wrote this. I’ve always really wanted to go into one of these churches because they have so much soul and I think it would be much more moving and spiritual then the churches I usually go to. In my old neighborhood I used to sit on the lawn outside the church and listen to the singing and the howling and the amen’s. I never got up enough courage to go inside because i thought everyone would stare or shun me.

    1. Hi Heather,

      Here’s what I say to that: If you can find God by sitting on the lawn outside and listening to what’s happening inside, sit on the lawn all day. Lie down in it and get comfortable. Our focus should be up ^ anyway, right?

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. This is really sad. You should not have to feel like that at church. The church that I go to has more whites than blacks, but they are so welcoming and friendly, as a matter of fact, my previous church was a mixture, but there were still probably more white people and I was fine there. The pastor was Italian, but what did it really matter and they would jam there. The praise was so awesome and amazing! I think that it is so great that you hold your head high and try to find God in these services, but really it should not be a big deal. We all are there to praise and serve God and he does not care what color or race that we are. Please do not let these experiences sway you from serving and finding God. I had to learn some time ago that my relationship with God is just that. A relationship between me and him and no one else. Just try and follow his word on how to treat others, but try not to let them bring you down. I will keep you in my prayers! :o)

    1. Autumn,

      I think we are going to get along just fine. 😉 I love your site; I appreciate your positive tweets; I get charged from your energy.

      Don’t be alarmed if you stumble upon me “finding God again” in your neck of the woods. Maybe it’ll happen right on this crazy Internet.

      Have a great evening!

  3. Melissa,

    I’m so happy to have connected with you. Love your writing. From the flip side, I can say its the same when I go into “white” churches. Although I grew up in “white” churches and my family going back to before the Civil War went to “white” churches. Not every black family has the “black” church experience. I couldn’t sing traditional black gospel in a soulful way, if you paid me, but play a rendition of Now Thank We All Our God and I’m chiming right in….

    Recently I had a women ask me “are you that Black woman who comes once a month and never speaks to anyone?” I’d never been to her church before…

    Race is still such a thorn in our sides.

    We definitely should chat!

    Susan @AGBredux

  4. I like this post. But you know the issue of race is a double edged sword. When I go places such as roller derby tournament, predominantly Caucasian churches, and even establishments with predominantly Caucasians I get “The Eye.” It is so sad and I live in the south. So please know that we (African-Americans) are stared down and studied as well. Unfortunate but true and at the end of the day we are all humans.
    Oh and please keep posting. If we don’t confront the issues then there is no dialogue and with no dialogue, no solutions.

  5. Hi Melissa,
    So glad I checked out your blog, I’m really enjoying reading your thoughts and writings. We too enjoy a more soulful worship at church and attend the “Urban Gospel” service at our church. It is a mixed group of attendees, a few really praising, some gently, some more passionately, others just somehow drawn to that service every week although they stand quietly and are not quite sure “how far to go” LOL! I love to feel the music and worship freely.
    I will stop by your blog more often!