Wednesday, February 11, 2015

In Which 12 Single Sisters Speak Truth to the Church


Some of my favorite women are single.  Friends, clients, readers ... you've always brought a perspective into my life that I needed to hear.  And absorb.  Yet our marital status hasn't defined the relationship that we share and nurture, whether it's professional or personal.

It's our hearts that resonate together strong, bound by the Savior's love, that draw us close.

Awhile back, I asked a group of single parents what the church needs to know about you.  Your musings are well-spoken and soul deep, yet extremely practical.  Your frustrations, disappointments, and pleas do nothing but reflect the honest beauty of who you are.

I understand that this week of expensive chocolates, sappy cards, and soon-to-wilt flowers is often a heart-searing time for you.  But here, in this place, I'm leaning in to what you've penned ... and I know, for sure, that our readers will, too.
 



~    I think church is focused entirely on families and when I went to church with the kids, I tended to fit into groups with moms and kids.  When I go to church alone, I do not fit into any groups because there are no appropriate groups for middle and older singles in most churches.  I can feel very out of place but that carries over into any social setting for me.  It seems harder to get to know others when you are single.

I wish that families would be more inclined to invite a couple of single women over for lunch on occasion and possibly then the single women could get to know each other and be included in a family gathering.


~   Divorce is not contagious.  It is ok to invite us to dinner.  We feel isolated and need fellowship, especially on Saturday night.

~   We won't steal your husband.  We need help with household maintenance.  Some of us need mentors for our sons.  We need love and support.


~   It's not easy.  We're often broke and lonely.  We're sometimes confused and need reinforcements with our kids.  We're not freaks, just a little different than you, logistically.


~   We are not a separate entity.  We have the same needs, if not more, for connecting, belonging.  We get exhausted and lonely.  We don't have a contagious disease.  We are being overlooked in most of our churches.


~   We need your support.  Include us with your families so our kids can have role models for the parent they are missing.


~   We are not a threat!   You can include us in outings and groups.  We need to be included for just plain fun.  We need to be included in mixed small groups - not just singles or women.  Sometimes we need to talk to a man to get that slant, but we are not chasing your husband.  We need you to offer help - it doesn't have to be big.  Know it is hard for us to ask.


~   We are often struggling financially.  Consider this when you ask us out to lunch after church.  It's one of the reasons we turn down the invitation.  When collecting food for a "food drive," don't give us outdated cans that you don't want your family to eat.  We feel humiliated that you think we should appreciate that.  We need to feel included and accepted.  Bible studies and cell groups often have all couples.  We could use help with "male jobs" such as household repairs.  We need men to spend time with our boys.  They need male role models.


~   Some of us never get a break in our 24/7 week, 365 days a year.  You probably don't want to be treated or regarded the way you do us.  Kindness is free - and I don't want your husband.  You've been telling me what's wrong with him for 8 years!


~   The church needs to know what a support and resource they can be.  We are not aliens.  It's good to ask what we might need help with.  Be sure to follow up!  We should be included in family events.


~   We do not have a disease.  Our boys need male role models to guide them.  We are not in the church to steal anyone's husband.  We do need a phone call just to ask, "We didn't see you Sunday, is everything ok?"  It's ok to ask us if we need anything - and really mean it.


~   We once, too, were in happy families, enjoying the congregation.  Our family has gone into crisis, with a split in the strength of having two to raise the children, finances, household management, yard management, comfort and support, and companionship.  This has all been lost in our split from our spouse.  Whether we are a man or a woman, a chunk of our life is no longer there.  Realize that we are strong, but missing many essential functions that make our family run.
 


 
If you're single, what else do YOU want to put on the table?
 
If you're married, what's the best way for YOU respond?
 
 
 

 
 
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And here's a bonus today for you, my friends.  Sheila Kimball is penning a brand new e-newsletter exclusively for singles and divorced women and single moms.

Single Saturday is making it's debut on Valentine's Day.  I know no finer gift to pass on to a friend ... or claim for yourself.  It's free, it's published once a month, and it looks to be chock full of all kinds of encouragements.

Go ahead and check out all the details here!  And please tell her that Linda sent you.

With love.






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would you be so kind as to share today's significant musings?
the links are below.
 

an adapted post

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joining Holly and Mary and Holley

40 comments:

  1. Hi Linda and Sheila! (I am a little dense..I'm not sure who wrote the post. Sorry!)
    I found this fascinating. I am married, but I once was a single in the church, and I wondered why I wasn't more involved in that time. Now I realize that there really wasn't much for 20 year olds to do. No specific programs, and not many people that age going to church either.
    What touched me most was the statement about not having a disease. Oh my. What an indictment of a community attitude, whether real or imagined. I want to apologize to anyone I have made feel that way in my church.
    Obviously a real problem, and one we have to address as people of Christ.
    Ceil

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    1. Since Sheila's a published author, I am honored that you think she might have written this post, but actually it's from plain ol' me!

      ;-}

      But I am excited to send our readers her way. Absolutely!

      Yes, Ceil, that people have been so wounded along the way is heartbreaking. If the breakup of their marriage wasn't horrific enough, to be ostracized, ignored, or, sadly, condemned are situations we must be mindful of. I appreciate this group of single's putting their cards on the table with me. I agree with you, there might be places that some of us need to ask for forgiveness for attitudes or words that have been ungodly.

      Lord, have mercy.

      Thanks for kicking off this conversation, dear friend. It's an important one ...

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    2. Thank you, Linda, for such sweet words! And YOUR words are amazing and helpful and blessed, my friend!! And Ceil...thank you for a heart that is soft and for extending an apology even if not warranted. I pray more in the church will put aside their fears or ignorance and just be Jesus to singles, divorced and single moms. A hurting heart -- no matter the marital status -- just wants and needs love and as followers of HIM we are TO BE HIS heart to others. Thanks!

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    3. Absolutely. A hurting heart knows no marital status.

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  2. It's like I'm that yellow chair at the all-pink table!

    34 and single and never been married.

    I know I'm missing out on one of life's great adventures. But I don't have to miss out on life. Praying for God to bless me right where I am, whether or not I ever find that special someone.

    All I need is an extra helping of Grace.

    Love you, Linda!

    ~HBHW

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    1. Welcome back, lovely lady! What a joy to see you here again. I hope you are well and strong. And if you are that yellow chair, it's because you are a golden ray of sunshine. Such a delight to know you ...

      And yes, yes, to an extra helping of grace. No matter what our marital status.

      Special blessings to you this evening!

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    2. How nice to be back... Thanks for helping me see my yellow chair from another perspective! It is you who are golden.

      Keep up the wonderful work, and know that this heart is very grateful to you...

      ~HBHW

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  3. Wow. I never want to make someone feel like that! I know what it is like to feel lonely or alienated, just in a different way.
    Guess I need to reach out to single people I know!

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    1. Good point, Sarah. Loneliness and alienation are heartbreaking places to be. Sometimes I think God allows these things in our lives just so we have a taste of what others are experiencing.

      How blessed women, single or married, would be to have you as a friend.

      ;-}

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  4. Not sure who to thank for this...Linda or Sheila! So....thanks to both of you. As a pastor I know this exists. What to do about it bugs me. I have forwarded this on to "my" youth pastor and church secretary so we can talk about it.

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    1. Well, yes, I wrote the piece. But I'm honored to showcase Sheila's new newsletter today. It just seemed to dovetail so well! She's an incredible woman with a heart as big as all outdoors for those who're single.

      I'm interested in your response as a pastor, Bill. This is such a huge issue for churches, and not solved by yet another program. Something about a more sensitive awareness, a shift in heart.

      I'd love to hear how this plays out for you ... please keep me posted. And yes, please feel free to share these women's wise words with other pastors and ministry leaders. They, and I, would be so appreciative.

      Blessings as you lead your flock, friend ...

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    2. Bill, thank you for having an open heart, seeing a need and taking the first step to help solve the problem. Blessings on you and your ministry. And yes, Linda, it is all about the heart. And all of us who say we follow Jesus remembering that what we do or DONT do to someone else, we are doing or not to HIM...

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    3. I always appreciate a pastor's perspective ...

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  5. Ah, thank you so much for sharing the hearts of these lovely women. From now on I'm going to be more aware of the needs of the single people.

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    1. And the amazing thing is that the needs of our hearts are all the same! It's just our life circumstances that differ.

      Thanks for being here, Anita!

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  6. I am thinking here of my sister-in-law. My brother died 9 years ago when she was 52. She has had astonishing support over the years. Yet one of the hardest things is finding someone to do something with her. Everyone is a couple or has young kids. She is a great initiator, yet she sometimes just wants someone to ask her to do something. There are any number of Saturday evenings when she simply goes to a movie Alone or the local coffee shop. She has a great attitude about it, yet it breaks my heart sometimes. I live 1200 miles away. It has made me more aware.

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    1. Yeah, even us initiators long to have someone reach out to us. Yes, yes.

      Praying for her right now even as we speak, that a friend would come into her life in a way that might surprise.

      You're a sweet sister, Carol ...

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    2. thanks Linda:
      the real surprise would be a nice widower! She would like to get remarried, but has adjusted well. One of the things that might help now is that she is recently connected to a group of other widowed women, some her age. she seems to enjoy them. It has been hard for her to connect with a widow's group - it was a hard label - and Lots of widowed groups are older women and she was pretty young at the time.

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    3. Don't you hate those labels we hang around each other's necks?

      ;-{

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  7. This is a GREAT post. I actually need to get plugged into a small group with my church.. my problem is - I don't know WHICH group to join!! Should I join one with my husband? A womens only group? A "moms of tots" group??! The choices are honestly the one thing keeping me from actually commiting to any one.. dos that sound lame?? lol - www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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    1. Well, that's a good challenge to have, Gingi! Every season brings its own unique needs ... may you KNOW the best place for you to be in this first part of 2015.

      Where can I best grow? Where can I best be an encouragement to others?

      ;-}

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  8. Linda-
    I am not really sure where to begin with this topic. Many of my feelings do to mirror the ones listed above but I can relate to everything that is being said.
    I go to a church that proclaims to accept everyone and to be honest they do. However, when you go to church it looks very much like families with a mom and a dad, couples or married couples seem to be the norm when looking for support, programs and just how they gear their focus the majority of the time. I'm not sure if I am making myself clear because it is the shortfall of most churches from what I have experienced.
    Overall, my singleness has been a blessing, my sons have turned out amazingly well and my goal is to live life well. I am where I am because I have God who walks with me daily and extends love and grace inspite of all my messiness and mistakes. I know that part of what I am being asked to do next involves mentoring younger women whether they are single or married. God knows my experiences can be used to support and teach younger women. I am willing to continue this discussion after I reflect on this some more.

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    1. 'My singleness has been a blessing.'

      What a beautiful statement ... true to the core for you, and an encouragement to those who gather 'round. Your call to mentor women no matter what their marital status is so exciting ... it's your heart, your character, the way you radiate Christ that's going to pull them toward you, not your whether you happen to be married or not.

      I'm so glad you're here, friend. You continue to make a difference when you sit down at the table with us. I'm honored to know you ...

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    2. God knows my experiences can be used to support and teach younger women. AMEN, PassageThruGrace. Turn your pain into something productive making a difference -- maybe the one you wish you had experienced yourself earlier on -- for the women coming after you. Blessings on your journey!

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    3. mmm ... what might our lives look like if we all had godly mentors during those rough patches ...

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  9. Linda, great reminder.
    I think a lot of this happens unintentionally, just the way that singles and married friends tend to drift apart. It's just that they're in different places in life and it's easy to flock together with those who are going through the same things. But I think we need to get more intentional about deliberately reaching out to singles or marrieds or divorced or widows or what have you.

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    1. Good point, Loren. Alot of this labeling and segregation is unintentional. Some of it is insensitive, and some of it is our own endless self-absorption. And yes, we are called to be more intentional and deliberate about loving well.

      Thanks for your input ...

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  10. Great article Linda and it shows all of us areas to be more sensitive to. I am happy to say that the church I attend is very supportive of single people, regardless of age, and they are included and welcomed to most activities. The majority of my single friends are comfortable in the church and feel it is meeting their individual needs/desires of what they are looking for in a church family. Now we just have to bring that down to a more personal level - the other 6 days a week.

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    1. Wow, Marilyn. Sunday morning is known as the loneliest time of the week for many singles. To walk by the pews and see couples and families all cozied up can be an excruciating experience week in and out ... and more than a few of our sisters simply stop going. It's too hard.

      So, you're blessed to be part of a family where that's not the norm. I love to hear about churches like yours ... it gives me hope.

      Thanks for sharing what's happening in your neck of the woods!

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  11. Love this post, Linda! I think the "Single Sisters" hit the nail on the head. I have experienced so many of the things they listed (all, I think, except the kid ones since I have no children). It is especially important for singles to have a church family when they live far away from or have no family nearby. Spiritual, emotional, and practical needs often go unmet without a caring and supportive church family.

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    1. Your last sentence said it ALL, Dar! Hearing these stories and variations of them breaks my heart as a counselor, a ministry leader, a woman.

      I'd love to see more conversations like this around tables from here to there ... and programs aren't the answer. Sensitive, open hearts are so dearly needed.

      Appreciate you ... and your insights here this evening, as always!

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  12. Lots of good insights on this thread!!!! One thing I find hard is when you are with a group of people and others are talking about their weddings or their marriages or their dating their spouses but the divorced person is not encouraged to participate. It seems to be hard for others to recognize that a divorced person was once married just like other couples. Maybe it was not ALL good but there was good things in every failed marriage. There are memories to that marriage. For example, I was married 39 years before my divorce was final so that is a huge part of my life that I cannot deny or ignore. I do want to talk about my married life but maybe I am unusual cause I am not full of bitterness. God took care of that pretty efficiently. I think others are afraid for divorcees to share cause it might get ugly. Some advice, ask the divorced person what was good in their marriage. That would help to make them feel included.....and we all want to belong.

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    1. I'd say you're right ... most people don't want to talk about their marriages after divorce unless it's sharing all that went wrong.

      Your encouragement to ask the divorced person what was good in their marriage is almost startling in its grace! I have encountered very few women like yourself who are able to do that kind of reflection with others with no bitterness and only great wisdom, gleaning the beauty that was present during those years.

      No wonder I admire you so ...

      Stay toasty, friend. What a weekend, huh?

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  13. Very good points! I'm glad you posted this - good for us to read and think about, and then follow through!

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    1. And I am glad you dropped by, Mari ... and took the time to say 'hi' ... I love that!

      Hope this is a good weekend for you!

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  14. As a woman who was once there in the trenches of post-divorce singleness and single mothering I can so relate to all the points made in this post. There is such a deep sadness in the hearts of those single in a couples church world. Thanks for sharing this. Praying many hearts will open...AND thanks a bunch for sharing about Single Saturday! Bless you, my friend. xxoo

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    1. Be sure and let me know how Single Saturday goes, Sheila. And while you're at it, please subscribe me!

      Thanks!

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  15. I am just catching up on your posts, but had to give an AMEN to this one!! Thank you for sharing this and asking single people's thoughts on matters at hand in the church. One of the most difficult things about being single is having to eat alone day after day, especially on Sundays, a family day. I do not believe married people intentionally leave us out. If they married very young, they may not get it or may even think we like being alone a lot. Perhaps they aren't sure what to do with us or how to relate and so they don't reach out. I am wondering how a married person would answer this. Why is it as a single I am often not invited to share a meal with other married couples or families in church? When they don't reach out, it only reinforces the feelings and thoughts that as a single I am more like a fish out of water than anything. What then?

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    1. Thanks for catching up with what's been happening around here ... good to see you again, Leigh!

      As you can tell, you're in very good company with your observations and yearnings. I hope that gives you some measure of comfort.

      As I listen to these conversations and jump in here and there, I can only encourage my single readers and clients to grab hold of that yearning and the desire to connect. And step out on a limb and be the one who invites 1 or 2 people over for dessert. Or a little brunch or pot luck.

      Sadly, we've all learned that if we wait around to be invited, no matter what our marital status, it might be awhile til the phone rings. I guess we're all figuring out how to bloom where we're planted, and discover what it looks like to offer encouragement to other weary travelers.

      Blessings ...

      ;-}

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Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...

Linda

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