This is Chapter 2 of Discovering Joy, a devotional-style quarantine diary I'm posting chapter-by-chapter on Wattpad.
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:2-3)
The coronavirus started as someone else's problem. It was tragic, certainly, but things that do not touch close to home do not bear the same emotional weight as those which interrupt our lives. As the murmurs from China grew into cries of deep distress, and as the virus raised voices all across Europe, I began to feel a little more the heaviness of the world's need. But still, an ocean separated me from the reality.
But the ocean was only a plane flight away. Cases began emerging in the states, and with them the firestorm of responses on social media.
One of my big missions is to inspire single women (in particular, but not exclusively) to identify and develop their unique gifts within the church. But I already hear a lot of single women asking, "What if I don't have a gift?"
Actually, you do. You've just bought into an incorrect definition of "gift." The real definition is super simple.
I don't think the answer to the invisibility and struggle of singleness is focusing on the singleness. Yes, we need to affirm the real-life difficulties of singleness. Yes, we need to be more inclusive of singles in church activities. But even while we do that, we're highlighting that singleness is Different and Separate from "the rest of the church." So Different and Separate that we need to be extra thoughtful to include them.
The real way to affirm the singles? Recognize their gifts in the church.
I was recently sharing coffee with two lovely ladies, one of whom was single, and she mentioned that she had found herself unexpectedly sharing relationship advice with a friend whose marriage was struggling. "I don't know why I feel I was qualified to share my opinion on what she should do. I've never even been on a date!"
Yet, when the other (married) woman and I heard what this single woman had given as advice to her married friend, we both agreed that her insight was Biblically and practically sound.
The sad part is, society says--and so many single women believe--that singles are "unqualified" to give relationship advice to their attached or married friends.
I utterly reject this lie. Here's why.
Fear has been a near-constant battle for me in the last few months.
Recently, my life changed significantly. When I came to grips with a number of difficult things I had been denying or minimizing over the years, it all led to making significant changes in my life. Suddenly, I found myself in a completely unfamiliar place, surrounded by strangers, battling constant doubts and fears, unemployed, and uprooted from almost every familiar or comforting thing I knew.
Every tomorrow seemed like a yawning chasm of the unknown.
If you're a married woman, here's a great list for including your "single sisters" in your life. If you're single, share shamelessly with your friends! They will enjoy knowing better how to bless you.
This year I've really put effort into knowing the people in my church better. We've been going to this church for at least 8 years, but last year I realized I don't know people there very well. The distance to the church (and most of the attendees' homes) is a major hurdle for me, especially since travel is one of my triggers.
Despite the difficulties in deepening relationships, I've been persistent, and as I get to know the church women better, I've realized something important: Everyone is in pain.
When I was a little girl, I was disappointed that I was not a boy. Boys got to go on adventures, perform bold and daring feats, fight heroically for justice, and lead others. I especially wanted to be a warrior: to oppose injustice, uphold mercy, and protect others.
Yet all my understanding of Biblical womanhood was that women were supposed to be good housekeepers and play a supportive role to the men in their lives. But, frankly, that sounded quite boring in comparison to the man’s role.
That was before I understood that God made women to be warriors too. We are called to realms into which men can never enter or wage spiritual war.
My journey toward an adoption mindset started a long time ago, but I didn’t realize it until I watched Hotel Rwanda.
I’d heard about adoption often. My friend told me that I should read Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore, and asked me to help her brainstorm about how to begin a foundation that might be able to help families afford the cost of adoption. Another friend had a heart to work with orphans in third-world countries. A couple in my church, after years of infertility, successfully adopted an adorable little girl. Some friends of ours adopted multiple times from all over the world, combining a family of children with Asian, African, Hispanic, and Caucasian roots. My work at a crisis pregnancy center put me into contact with adoption agencies in the area, since adoption is a beautiful (and often undervalued) option for women facing unplanned pregnancies.
I had always considered adoption a wonderful thing, but it didn’t personally impact me until about a year ago.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.