Tonight I went to spin class (or indoor cycling class), and even though there were 15 minutes before class started most of the bikes were claimed. I’ve learned people always drape a towel or put their water bottle on their bike, so you know where not to sit. I was about to get on a bike in the corner of the room when a middle-aged man walked up, shook his finger at me, and said, “That’s my bike”. I was clearly confused because there was no towel or water bottle, but he pointed to the padded seat that was on the bike. So I apologized, felt self-conscious, and then felt angry. There could have been a kinder way for him to tell me that.
While I was spinning and stewing, I remembered the time I accidentally sat where the choir sits at church and had to be told to move. And the time I accidentally sat in “someone else’s” pew–I got to stay seated, but they let me know it was their spot. Or the time a new family came to church and sat in the unmarked pews where the choir usually sits. It was a great reminder of what it feels like to be uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the unspoken rules of a group. And that grace and flexibility from others can go a long way towards making a person feel welcome.
So, spin class felt like church tonight.