Dear Church ~ Heartfelt Notes from 8 Single Women * Part 2


Praise God.

Carol, Dar, Loralu, and Lux kicked off a great big soiree {I love that word!} a few days back.  If you missed the first post in this little Dear Church Mini-Series and the follow-up powwow in the comment section, it's right here. Do take the time to read what we're doing and why.  It's that imperative.

Hundreds of you Facebook aficionados joined this community's regulars and a number of curious onlookers stopped in and ended up offering a whole bunch of sensitive reflections in response to what you read.

Just super.

And in the process, a few of you have asked the essential question, Now What?  So this mini-series will morph into a 3-parter.  This subject is just begging for continued dialogue.  And I couldn't be happier.

Please continue to invite your Facebook and Twitter friends to come along for the ride ... and if you're sharing on social media, feel free to let me know in the comments.  I want to offer you my simple but heartfelt gratitude for spreading the word that single women in the church don't have to feel isolated, and that together, we can join hearts and hands to spark a fire that can change the world for Christ, no matter what our marital status.

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Meet today's four friends.  They're lovely and discerning.  And from their unique perspectives, they each have something to say worth savoring, just like their sisters before them.  Their hearts' fervent cries deserve an attentive, warmhearted response.

Let's kick today's dialogue off with Lynn ...
The first time I entered the auditorium of the church that I would soon call home, I watched the patterns of the carpet in each step, and quickly found a place in the mid-section to sit.  When I finally lifted my eyes to the surroundings, it seemed all I saw were couples. But I breathed deeply, and opened to God's promises with the bible I planted on my knees.  I knew He told me I belonged, was loved no matter my status as a single, a divorcee in this place where people meet to worship Him.  I knew He did, yet still longed to feel that belonging, part of a community with others no matter my status.

A Christmas Women's Dinner was announced and I found myself after the service at the Welcome Booth buying a ticket.  The woman who sold me the ticket asked about me, and I shared it was my first time.  And then she graciously offered me to join her table of friends at the dinner.  Although taking my phone number, I was still surprised to receive her call a few days before the event, confirming my attendance.  The evening was wonderful, and I met another lady, Betty, who would become a mentor for me, as well as expect me to sit with her and her husband, Bert, at service every Sunday.

Those events, that included being embraced by Christian couples, were steps in my healing and my walk back to faith.  I also was encouraged by a woman pastor to take leadership courses, which led to leading studies, prayer walks, and even spiritual retreats as a single.  I must admit there are times I still feel I don't belong especially when I start to compare myself to the leadership team at our church who are all married.  And I wonder what right do I have to dream of larger leadership opportunities as my bio does not include 'happily married'?  So like that first day I entered my home church, I open His word to remember that I am loved deeply, no matter my status.  However, it is so comforting to also know Betty and Bert are there to show me His love too, no matter that I am a divorced single in a Christian church.
{Lynn's online home}

And Mary's got a letter for you ...
Dear Church,

I arrive each weekend and walk through your doors finding my seat in the dark and hoping for obscurity. Sometimes I sit with friends and other times I am seeking solitude with no intentions of bringing any notice to myself.  I look like most everyone else that enters your church doors and from the outside there is nothing that distinguishes me as any different from the majority of the congregation.

But I ask you to take a long look into my heart. Listen well and ask me what makes me “me”. You will be surprised to find out that just looking from the outside in can be deceiving. You see, I am a single mom, and as welcoming as you claim you are, there are many times when I feel like I don’t fit the norm. I am not dating and am not sure if that is even in my future, but my heart for God is focused and open to all He teaches and wants me to learn.

Being single in the church is like being part of a secret club that is best kept a secret. I understand marriage and the church’s emphasis on staying married, but my story does not fit that mold. So I ask you now, how can you open your hearts to us and draw us into ministry and deeper relationships? A first glance will not show you all I have to offer. Spend some time with me and you will see a woman who loves God dearly. A viable woman who offers life experiences that speak of challenges, but end in a beautiful story of the redemption of God.

Let me leave you with these words. I long to feel accepted, get connected and feel valued as a member of your church. I have chosen a life as a child of God and am ready to dig deeper and share my faith with others.  These words from Psalm 139 remind me that my story was written even before I was born. Each word, sentence, paragraph and chapter was crafted by God as His plan for my life.

My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

My story is uniquely my own. God chose me even before I chose Him. Our stories are now connected. Will you take the time to listen to my story?


A Single Mom and a Beautiful Child of God

And here comes Sharon with some very practical thoughts ...
When I became a widow a little over three years ago there were two things that really bothered me.  Over and over the Bible tells Christians to take care of widows.  I wanted to have some things fixed (or changed) around my house and I contacted three different Christian contractors.  They knew from the start that I was more than willing to pay whatever they charged.  I wasn't looking for a hand-out.  Not one of them followed through.  They didn't return phone calls like they said they would, they didn't send me estimates like they said they would, they didn't show up when they said they would.  I finally got frustrated and started calling contractors who weren't Christians....and they showed up right away and did some of the jobs.  Also, two men from my church offered to come take care of something for me (I hadn't asked them to do this) and once they offered I never heard from them again.  I had to wait for my son-in-law to come from PA to help me.  I don't have any family living close by and sometimes I need help with projects.  I've heard several women say they have the same problem, so it's not just me.

The second thing is that I really missed having interaction with men.  Occasionally I'd be invited to a dinner or something with one or two couples, but that was rare.  I voiced this longing to a friend once and she invited me to join their small group Bible study, which was made up of couples I knew, plus one other single lady.  I loved hearing the guys' input during the study and also interacting with them during the dessert time.

Before my husband died I didn't realize how important it is to include single women in mixed groups.  Now I know.

And last, but certainly not least, Valerie brings her wisdom ...
Words are weighty.  They can hang heavy on hearts that are longing for encouragement and understanding.

Some of the most awkward and unhelpful words about being single have come from those in the church.  Although delivered with good intention, I'm often surprised that so little thought is given to how they might sound to a woman logging decades of singleness.

-God has someone for you, you just haven't met him yet.
-Maybe you're not trying hard enough to meet people.
-Have you thought that maybe you can serve God better single than married?
-When you stop looking, God will bring someone into your life.

Those words put a heavy burden on me and make some incorrect assumptions about God.  Instead, what if those in the church asked me how they could pray for me? What if they invited me to classes and events in the church that weren't organized by age or marital status but instead included everyone?  What if their words affirmed me as a person, who just happens to be single?

I'm probably more sensitive to remarks about being single, but maybe "words fitly spoken can be like apples of gold in a setting of silver" (Prov. 25:11), and I would treasure those words like they were precious metals.
{Valerie's online home}

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What next?

The grand finale of our little Dear Church Mini-Series will offer some thought-provoking questions and give you opportunity for purposeful, meaningful dialogue.  We'll link hearts and heads together to figure out where we go from here as individuals, friends, online community, churches.

  No matter what our marital status.

 so you won't miss this potentially lifechanging gathering.