Originally published Monday, 16 February 2015.
I know you...lots of you and I love you dearly. You're my precious friends, the real warriors. I have listened and I hear you. You have told me about the way you keep going back to that singles class because where else is there to go? You confided about how your aunt found yet another "perfect match," for you this weekend...and we laughed about the disaster of that epic matchmaking fail. You've bravely laughed when you told me that you have more bridesmaid dresses than you can count because all that singleness??? It made you the perfect friend to us, the most loyal and dependable of all. You were indeed such a beautiful bridesmaid. Thank you for loving me enough to be with me on my day. You've kidded about how your life has really felt like that old cliché, "Always the bridesmaid never the bride." I can see it in your eyes, the way the saying annoys you when you speak it...but you laugh because you're brave and well...life isn't quite going the way you expected. At all.
I'm writing this for you today because I love you so dearly and I'm pretty sure that I'm as much to blame as anyone for the unnecessary hurt you have felt. (Maybe not "as much as anyone,"...because yeah...you've told me some wild stories of the words that've been spoken to you. I can't identify with some of that craziness...but still. I can do better.) I know you, and I see the way you try to find the gentle words to say that you are completely over it. Over the way you have been made to feel different, over the way they act like you're an appendage to the Body, over the way you feel like you wear a scarlet letter...all because you are a single woman. I am so sorry for that ugliness.
I see you, the valuable woman whose husband turned out to be a bit less than Prince Charming, to say the very least. I know you tried to make it work and he just wouldn't play any part at all in reconciliation or forgiveness. We have cried about the way he wouldn't go with you to the marriage counselor, even when you made the appointments. I have listened as you've told me about the way you were hoping this life would go. Yet, he walked away from the vows and no matter how much you meant them...and despite the way you still do...well, the truth is this: you can lead a horse to water...and he behaves more like a donkey.
I know you, beautiful friend. The one who found yourself saying goodbye in the blink of an eye. It was all fine. It was wonderful, a fairytale really...and a call came that changed your world in an instant. Everything you knew changed. I see you. I know that you are really brave and that I could be in your position at any given moment. We all could. We're all just a phone call away from our story taking a turn that we never anticipated. I really do grasp that reality and I wish I could heal your hurt. I really wish I could restore what others looking in have broken.
My strong, beautiful, incredible friends: I see how you've been made to feel. I hate it. I really despise that your hurt has been deepened by those that should embrace you and do life with you. The reality that I cannot change it on my own isn't something that I've made peace with...because I just want you to see how loved and amazing and worthy you are. I want you to see how much we need you, your talents, your God-given purpose, your vision, your wisdom, your personality, and your story. We need you in the Kingdom work. Why have we failed at showing you this?! We are to blame. Us, not you. That is for certain.
Maybe I am one person, but today, I can write for you. Maybe we will all ponder your position, your worth, and realize we've set ourselves up to miss out on everything you have to offer. Maybe if I write about those real women that we call our "single friends," maybe...just maybe...the world will examine itself and begin to think differently. If we can even begin to see how wrong we are, then this post is worth the risk of saying hard things. It is time to speak up for a change and I am tired of being a by-stander as you're made to feel "different."
Friends, I know there are couple's parties, couple's classes, couple's retreats, game nights, couple's studies, couple's dinners, and that you've been asked to watch the children in the nursery. We are really missing out on you, aren't we? To my friends without children, I know there are mother's day banquets, Mom's groups, mom's classes, parenting studies, and again...we've asked you to entertain the kiddos. We've carried on like we are a country club with some that matter and others that don't. Mercy.
Have I been a part of this thing I hate? This country club mind-set? (I don't think I want to hear the answer.) Have I made it worse? Friends, here is the deal. When we live like we are a country club and not the living, breathing, purposeful, functioning Body of Christ...we miss really living as a Body that needs all of its parts working together to complete the work. When we function with some parts, yet not others...we act as if the Body can function without all of its members and we only put importance and worth on certain parts of the Body. We cannot run the race or advance the Kingdom without all parts of the Body functioning together. Have we pretended like some are more important than others? Nonsense.
<em>For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
~1 Corinthians 12:12</em>
Friends, we are missing out. We are the ones who have been wrong. We have expected everyone to check off certain things on a list. I have heard you say the way you feel like you haven't achieved real womanhood because you aren't a mother. And sometimes, I don't have the words to say at all because my own status as a wife or mother has made me unrelatable to you. I really do see you, though. I really want to be a true friend to you...even in the times that my unrelatable words fail us both. I really do see that you have a desire to be used, to serve, to belong. I hear you speak beautiful wisdom and I know that we have isolated ourselves from those whose life stages and seasons of life may be different from ours. I am so sorry for the way we have carried on without you in our ignorance. The truth is that we don't know exactly how to love like Jesus loves, because we haven't reached completion yet...but I think we can help each other.
We need you. We need you to teach us. Help us to serve people whose lives have taken different turns than ours. Help us to love those in different seasons: seasons of waiting, seasons of healing, seasons of mourning, and seasons of rebuilding what has been broken. Will you please come alongside of me and help me to rebuild for the sake of all women? Can you teach me to be more intentionally welcoming and inclusive to all parts of the Body of Christ so that we will function the way God has created us to function? God has created you to be a part of us. We're the ones who just can't seem to get it right. Please teach me to do better. Join the planning committees and teach us how to plan better, to include better, to love all women as God loves them. He calls them by name. He knows the numbers of hairs on their heads. Why have we passed you by?
We desperately need you to teach us to live differently. It is time for us to wake up. We need to come alive and join hands, to cheer each other on in a way that knows no seasons...that knows no life stages...that defies the marital or parenting statuses. It's time to stop being women who do this or that and to just be WOMEN already! We will be stronger with you and we are really, truly incomplete without you. Please forgive us. We have failed. We are continuing to fail because we don't have your wisdom. We are lacking your contribution to the Body because we have treated you like the unnecessary...and now, we continue to fall short because of our loss. Please teach us.
I can't change my life season or yours and I know you have never asked or expected that. There's this thing that I want you to hear me say, though.
<strong>You are enough. </strong>
You are more than enough because of Jesus. Your worth is found in Him because you are His precious child and He does not see you as a "life-stage" but as His miracle. Your identity is in Him. I'm so sorry that we have carried on as if our identities are about being grouped by likeness. How boring...how ridiculous. Can we please just redefine community already? Can we say "likeness" is about passionately following Jesus? Can we say that women are beautiful and fulfilled because they are seeking their Savior? Can we make real womanhood about clinging to Jesus and the adventurous pursuit of being an unmistakable part of the Body of Christ?
Let's rethink and redo! Let's build a community of authentic hearts that says, "I just want more of Jesus." Let's make the glory all His as we run this race together. Will you teach me? We need you. We desperately need you to be whole. We have been truly incomplete in our ignorance, but you can make the difference. You are my sister and it is time we redefine sisterhood. I love you, dear friend. You are more than enough. You are His.
When your life isn't at all what you expected, I vow to stand with you. I vow to wash salt from your wounds and to fight off the lies from the enemy that say, "not enough." I vow to repeat the truth of Jesus again and again.
<strong>You are enough. You are enough. You are enough. You are enough because of Jesus.</strong>
I vow to redefine the way we do community, to always rethink the message that we must be sending. I vow to hold womanhood to a higher standard than the limits of life stages. I vow to be your sister because together, we both bring something to the table that we can use for His glory. You bring your hurt of waiting or mourning and I'll bring my messiness of life, too. We'll keep it real and we will put our strengths together to be who He has called us to be. This is sisterhood.
<em>But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
~2 Corinthians 12:9</em>
His grace is sufficient for us. We are stronger together, and we are strongest in Him.
Joining hearts with you,