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« Do theology with humility | Main | Curiosity and the New Living Translation »

Married woman, do you have single friends?

There are five women in my theology class, including me. While two others have children, I am the only one who is married.

Recently, we got on the topic of the kind of teaching material that is offered to women in typical church settings. We all agreed that we would rather prefer to study a book of the Bible rather than a topic, especially books that are focused only on marriage and motherhood.

Over the years, when I have taught young mothers, I have taught specifically about those things, largely because there were many in my audience to whom those issues were pertinent. But in talking to my single friends, I wonder how often there was a single or childless woman in my group who was wondering when I would get to something else. Was I insensitive to the differences among women?

In getting to know these single women I have been reminded of a couple of things:

Ultimately, my identity is in Christ. It is not in my marital status or my children. At our group blog, a couple of years ago, I wrote a post called "Can I Love My Child Too Much?"  A lot of people didn't like it. I received some nasty mail over that one. I still stand by the principle, though: we can turn our family into idols. As I have got to know these single women and our conversation has focused on matters other than children and husbands, I have been reminded of where my ultimate identity is. It's something I'm learning daily.

My experience is not every woman's experience. It is natural for us to assume that others thing like we do, or experience life as we do. They don't. My life here in my comfy little corner of semi-rural Ontario, with a husband who has never laid a hand to me is nothing like the experience of the woman who struggles with an abusive husband while wondering how she will feed her kids. The gospel is sufficient to address every painful circumstance, but I have to be careful about thinking that the gospel includes replicating my circumstances. I think this also includes being sensitive to cultural differences. Trying to force a model of Christian womanhood that can only work in affluent North America may actually work against spreading the gospel. 

Married women, do you have single friends? If you don't, find some! Part of the beauty of the Body of Christ is its diversity. If we only ever stick to nurturing relationships with women exactly like ourselves, we will miss a great deal.

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Reader Comments (2)

I have a friend who has been very vulnerable in sharing the importance of families in the church embracing and integrating single sisters and brothers in to their lives. I admit, that is hard for me. Other than this friend (who comes to visit, but doesn't live nearby), I am not intentional about including single people in our lives.

Part of me wants to do just as you say, as my friend says she needs. Part of me, though. . . I'm already tired. Spread thin. I say "no" to more things than I say "yes" to. The commitments I have are specific and limited -- and most serve multiple purposes.

The normal response to this would be, "Well, this is the season of life I am in. . ." with teens and toddlers and family commitments. While that is true -- what about the single (especially single women) who NOW could really use being embraced by a family with teens and toddlers? (And my teens and toddlers could benefit from their involvement in our family.)

Another normal response would be, "Well, right now I'm called to serve my family first. . ." And to the degree that may be true, and my personal energy and resources ARE limited and I don't want to shortchange my family... do I only have single friends when my kids are grown?

Anyway. . . I agree with what you are saying in theory. Just in practice? I don't know how to do it. . .

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTulipGirl

TulipGirl, just the fact that you recognize the need and you're wondering about ways that you could help is great. And you don't have to start big. Just saying hi to single people at church, asking them about their lives, and listening respectfully even though their lives aren't like yours, is a GREAT start. You're on to something, too, when you talk about sharing your family life with single people. There are ways to do this that don't require a lot of extra commitment from you -- like inviting a single person out to lunch with you and your family if you were going out anyway, or inviting him or her to your child's school event where you have to be anyway -- and that would be meaningful to that person.

I have a book coming out in June (shameless plug time! :-) ), "One by One," which I hope will help explain the divide a little better and help married churchgoers start to learn how to bridge that gap. I hope you'll have a chance to read it.

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGina Dalfonzo

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