Dear Church ~ Heartfelt Notes From 8 Single Women

I'm excited to introduce you to a bunch of women who are wise and savvy creatives, leaders, administrators, chefs, professionals, teachers, adventurers ... and part of this online community right here.  I've invited them to put pen to paper and tell the church truths that need to be heard about single women.

This isn't the kind of post you briefly scan before you click-and-run.  These women are courageous enough to open their hearts to you because they know this is a safe community where they'll be heard well, authentically validated, and joyfully affirmed for who God has shaped them to be.

So settle in with a refreshing beverage and meet eight extraordinary women with some significant insights.  Their words are worth savoring, so this'll be a two-parter {and for whatever reason we'll hear from them alphabetically}, so be sure to return in a few days for more conversation.

Best of all?  These radiant friends aren't defined by their marital status, they're defined by their Savior.

*    *    *

Let's kick this party off with Carol ... 
How often have we heard after a night of socializing, having dinner with friends, or spending a Sunday afternoon with family that “we had fun and let’s do this again real soon?” I went to NYC with a friend and we sat for hours while she had cancer treatment. That too was fun.  

What do these things have in common? Community and a sense of sharing are the common themes. Feelings, hopes and struggles come to the surface at times like these and they are soul-invigorating events.

As a single, I long for the church to be a place of community. Most days I spend time doing a variety of things alone. Then it comes to Sunday and sitting by myself in church can unravel me especially if I had a tough week of dealing with hard things ALONE. I believe community would also involve an invite to dinner and a real effort to get to know each other better. I would greatly enjoy someone coming over to me at church and genuinely asking me how my week went. Remember, I have no one to bounce things off of on a regular basis. Community, for me, is being real, getting more acquainted, experiencing multi-dimensional thinking and being known and loved for who we are together.

And then, there's Dar ...
When my dear friend Linda asked me to comment on What Single Women Want the Church to Know, one thing immediately came to mind. Church can be a lonely place for single women. In a community that is often focused on families, it can be hard to find a place to fit in as a single woman. However, rather than focus on what the church doesn’t do in this area, I’d like to share two ways in which specific individuals at a church acted sensitively to this need.

Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for women. For me it is always a reminder of what I long to be, but am not. In a sea of women who’ve borne children, I feel lonely. One year as I was leaving the church, they were handing out a flower to each mom. The sweet woman handing them out stopped me as I tried to escape. When she tried to hand me a flower, I said, “I’m not a mom.” She responded, “Yes you are, you mother your students, the kids in the youth group, and other children in the church” and handed me a flower. I experienced a level of recognition and acceptance that I carry with me to this day. 

At the same church, another family took me in as one of their own. I lived away from my biological family and felt lonely without them. This dear family at my church invited me into their home weekly for Sunday dinner, to birthday and holiday celebrations. They gave me the gift of belonging in a place where I felt very alone. Often singles are relegated to a place outside the flow of family relationships, to a place in the body that fails to recognize them as valuable people. The loving, inclusive actions of these people gave a cherished and powerful gift to one single woman.
{Dar's online home}

And here comes Loralu aka Lulu ...
My marriage of 40 years ended and not only was I abandoned, rejected and alone, but I was devastated.  Time stood still and I became mired in the quicksand of grief.  Then the church stepped in.  My church, the church community in my hometown and especially my small group pulled tightly around me, propped me up, and grieved with me.  They never allowed me to sit alone, they continued to seek me out, they trusted me with the same responsibilities and invited me to participate in new ministry opportunities, and most importantly they prayed for me.  After a life time of being one of two, I was beset with the responsibilities of daily life as a single at a time when I could not think beyond the moment.  I was not totally alone though—as every time I expressed a need-a doubt-a question-someone stepped forward to help.  The church small group I helped lead had a cross section of society including the married, divorced, widowed, and single.  We had learned to love and accept a divergent community through serving each other.  But sadly I was not always open to a stranger entering our midst.  There was always a disruption of the flow when a new member and at times even a stranger entered the group.  I was always hesitant and even resentful of starting over from square one of building trust and comfort.  By being obedient and including those who were different, God stretched us and taught us the depths of His great love for us.  The New Testament church was modeled beautifully as we lived life together.  In retrospect this worked so well because they knew me and my story.  One of the many ministries I assumed in this land of the familiar was Sunday greeter.  I was really good at greeting strangers and making them feel welcome.  In my smugness of a job well done, I assumed someone else would help them find a fit and integrate them into the body.  I now know how wrong I was to drop the ball and leave them floundering, with my reluctance to leave the familiar.

I moved to be near my daughter two years later.  The reality of being divorced hit me full force with that move.  I gathered up my courage and sought out a church –walking into a huge building with a great crowd totally alone.  I have never felt more alone in my life.  The one place that should provide security and comfort was awkward and left me feeling as if I was only allowed on the fringe.  Somehow we forget, Jesus sought out those living on the fringes.  We all enjoy our comfort zones of the known and even noticing those who are different becomes rare.  At a time when I was not only alone maritally, I was also friendless in a new city and invisible within the church.  I became frustrated and depressed when my repeated attempts to fit in fell flat and I retreated to the security of my home.  And there it slowly dawned upon me, I was experiencing the same others had experienced when I was the neglectful greeter.  After all who is the church, I am the church—not the leadership, not the lifelong members, not the sacred pew sitters, but me.  I wore the same guilt as I sat there in my new church week after week and ignored the new strangers who walked through the door.  I failed to reach out and touch the unfamiliar because I was too focused on my own pain to notice others in the same place.   So my plea to the church and me is- Acknowledge the stranger and work to include them—their condition is not contagious and they may have much to offer.  Look for the strangers in your midst and embrace them into the fold.

I cannot leave this subject and not tell you the most important thing God has shown me during this season.  He has faithfully been by my side—never abandoned me, rejected me, nor forsaken me.  He has held me when I cried, given me answers when I thought there were none, revealed Himself to me in a tangible and real way that I would have never known in my utopic life while married.  The greatest sense of aloneness has also brought the deepest knowledge of God –who He is and what He has promised.  I am not perfect, the church is not perfect—but God is perfection in action.  His abiding love is enough.  
{Loralu's online home}

And last, but certainly not least, there's Lux ...
Singleness is either a phase or a lifetime choice.  We are single because of many personal reasons, but as human nature, we also need to feel included.  Most of the churches I go to provide activities where in single people can learn, enjoy, and explore while they are still free.  Sad to say, some churches don't have this.

I hope church leaders or spiritual communities can be more sensitive to the needs of the single.  This is like a preparation stage for us for our lives ahead.  We need guidance from the church, encouragement, and support as we go through this phase in our lives.  Or for those who chose to live single blessedness, may churches give them the spiritual support they need.
{Lux's online home}

*    *    *

what are you hearing?

 please share today's insights
 with your Facebook and Twitter friends!

introducing friends to each other at
Anita's  .  Kelly's  .  Holly's  .  Jennifer's
  Holley's  . Leah's  .   Lyli's