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.
When we learned that I was pregnant, I cried. My husband Paul held me in his arms and we prayed and thanked God, amidst overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, joy, anxiety, love...
After years of chronic pain and tick-borne illnesses, I had also been diagnosed with a Functional Neurological Disorder that involved non-epileptic seizures and periodic weakness and paralysis. I also faced debilitating panic and anxiety attacks--something that made me feel like everything was "in my head," even though I knew it wasn't.
Paul and I had questioned whether it was safe or wise for me to get pregnant, but after a year of marriage and many doctor visits, we realized that we trusted the Lord with the risks. We wanted to begin a family.
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.
Today I am waiting. Waiting to know if my baby is still alive.
Paul and I prayed for this baby long before I saw the doctor's note: "Your test was positive. Congratulations!" I was so overwhelmed that when Paul prayed over me and our new little one, I sobbed on his shoulder.
My secret preferences for a husband were very specific, but I gave up those dreams because I did not want to encourage unrealistic expectations. God alone knew what kind of man was best for me, and I trusted Him.
Unknown to me, God took my secret list and the dreams I had given up to Him, and said with a gleam in His sovereign eye, "Daughter, you are about to meet my son Paul."
When we deal with painful things, do we pull away from our Lord or lean into Him?
“You’re feeling yucky today, aren’t you?” My husband asks, seating himself next to my quivering body. He reaches out and pulls me in to a warm, close embrace. I cry out in pain.
Some years ago, I read a parable of three women that became my guide for how I wanted to live Christian womanhood--but, unknown to me, that story poisoned my vision of womanhood.
This was the parable, as I remember it.
Taking a quick break from my Incredible Journey posts, I'd like to highlight a meditation that has recurred often for me recently...
Is marriage a distraction from whole-hearted devotion?
When I was single, I often struggled with a disturbing fear: that my future marriage would distract me from true, single-minded devotion to God. That was always very concerning to me, even though I vaguely understood that having a husband would likely consume much of my time and--let's face it--my affection.
Day 8 - July 25, 2018
Glacier National Park has always been one of Paul's favorite national parks. At first, I could not see why. It was pretty, but not spectacular, as we wound our way up and up and up into the morning clouds.
Then we emerged from cloud and twisted round a bend in the road and I caught my breath.
Mountains. Like I had never seen them before.
Day One - July 18, 2018
Beginning from our home in Virginia, Paul and I set out on the first leg of our adventure. We were on a timeline, because we had determined to meet Paul’s parents in North Dakota the following evening.
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.