This post is primarily for the gents.
Some of my favorite women in the world are not married and would very much like to be. Most of them also long to be mothers, but with every next year’s “Happy Birthday!” a dread chill grows, pregnant and heavy with unanswered questions.
Yes, these women trust in God’s goodness and timing, but they can’t help but wonder if they’ve drawn the divine short straw. What is it God has for them to do in his kingdom? Must they always do it alone? Is this their lot?
As a man – and as a brother – you can be a balm to your sisters who are not single or childless by choice. You can buoy the spirits of those who feel bereft of the significant relationships so many others enjoy.
How? Hug them if you’re a hugger. Greet them warmly and with interest if you’re not. Find something about their person to commend. Invite them over for dinner, the movies, or to watch the big game with your family or friends. Invite yourself over to be there, as any good brother would, when the plumber comes by to fix her disposal.
Every Sunday morning the alarm sounds and your sisters rise and ready themselves for the difficult work that is being in a church filled with couples and families. It would be so easy to stay home. Would anyone even notice? Be the brother who notices.
But they don’t stay home, these women of valor. They rise and go to the house of God, alone, many times out of sheer obedience.
They rise and go to church because they believe in holy community and the kingdom of God.
They rise and go to pray with Christ’s family, bending themselves towards the will of a Good Father who has seemingly withheld the most precious desires of their hearts.
Be the brother who can sit patiently with a tired and doubting sister in this painful paradox.
Your sisters come to church; they sit down in the pew; they look around the sanctuary at all those who appear to have lives brimming over – so very full! – with the joys and cares of family life.
“Pray for us please, as we are being pulled a thousand different directions with all the kid’s things! Who knew this season of life would be such an incredible challenge to our marriage? Do you ever babysit?” (Please don’t be this brother.)
And a quick word for a moment to the wives: Support your husband in his efforts to be a good brother. Encourage him to know and care for his single sisters – your sisters – in the unique way God directs him.
You’d not believe the wounds of my single friends who are virtually ignored by certain men in their church. Why? There are many possible reasons – but all of them hurt the same.
Perhaps our husbands can be one of the few brothers who offer shalom instead of suspicion? What kind of brother would we hope for if we found ourselves in our single sister’s position?
Shalom to you and yours today. For we have a good Brother who has drawn near in compassion and done far more than we could ever ask or imagine in our most vulnerable and state.
And as His family, as His brothers and sisters, may we move out into his world – into his kingdom still heavy with unanswered questions – and with His help, do the same.
11 responses to The Short Straw?
I was a single parent for a decade, and I can’t tell you how close to home this hits. We were in a very small church and I was the only woman of child-bearing years who had only one child, who was single, and who worked. It was agony, as all the other young women had what I so desperately desired…husbands and homes full of children they stayed home with. I was so isolated, as the brothers avoided me I suppose out of an abundance of caution, and the sisters apparently didn’t believe they had anything in common with me. I felt rejected and pathetic.
A brother in that church, the husband of one of those young women, had preached one Sunday morning about all of us being needed in the body of Christ, and I told him afterwards how much I appreciated his message, as I had felt for so long that I didn’t belong anywhere. I shared with him how all the other young women had the life I so longed for – and he shared with me that all of them would have changed places with me, at least occasionally. My initial response was strong – disbelief, and almost anger – but he convinced me it was true, and for the first time I could see that there might be at least some small benefit to my circumstances. That was a turning point for me…all because of one conversation with a precious brother.
Well spoke! Indeed we have found how very rewarding it is to befriend single women. They are loyal, giving, loving friends as we reach out to them – they give back more in appreciation for recognizing them as REAL people.
I so remember feeling this way. I did not get married until age 30 and thought the day would never come. One of the things I did was pray for the man god was preparing for me. I felt that God had put that desire in my heart and there was a reason for the wait.
God has called me to live a different life than that of a married woman, and I am happy to heed that call. I have never felt that I drew the “divine short straw.” I’ve always thought that the people who talk to me at church do so because they recognize we are all important pieces of our church congregation and community in Christ. I hope they are not talking to me because they pity me for being unmarried. Your post makes me think I wouldn’t be very welcome at your church based on the way it views and treats unmarried women.
Anonymous, I don’t think this post was talking about women who are happy in their singleness. That’s an entirely different situation from the women the author mentioned, that do feel they’ve drawn the short straw and long for husbands and children. I think it’s wonderful that you’re happy in the situation God has placed you, and I’ll bet you would be very welcome at any church you fellowshipped with. But for women who feel left out of the family life of the church because they don’t have a family (and I know they exist because I’ve been one myself), the author was trying to encourage married folks, brothers especially, to reach out to them and welcome them into the family life of Christ…and brothers and sisters who do that can make a huge difference in the lives of their single sisters (see my post above for an example of this).
Sandi, a church where men need to be reminded to do simple things like warmly greet an unmarried woman, is not a church that welcomes unmarried women. Kim says these women are met with suspicion. My advice to her single friends would be to find a church that believes they are whole as God made them, and not a church that finds them suspicious and lacking.
Maybe suspicion wasn’t exactly the word she meant. i believe in my own case, at least, the brothers were cautious in their interactions with me so as not to have any appearance of inappropriateness, and I appreciated that for their wives’ sakes, since my former husband had been inappropriate with other women during our marriage and it was a source of embarrassment and hurt for me. But their caution did unfortunately affect the warmth of my relationships in the church.
Anonymous, your words will carry more weight if you don’t remain anonymous. It’s difficult to have a nuanced discussion with someone who won’t identify themselves.. Shalom, and Merry Christmas.
What I wrote was genuine, and I am sorry my words do not “carry more weight” because I don’t wish to identify myself online. I am careful about what I share online, and I thought anonymous posts were allowed. Please delete my comments.
Sandi, thanks for taking the time to tell your story – it rings true.I am grateful for God’s kindness in your own situation, and for (I’m certain) your great compassion on those who are on similar paths. Shalom to you and yours, and Merry Christmas. – Kim
Anonymous, my phone number is (512)217-2405 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to continue a more personal discussion off-line, as that is always my preference too. Shalom to you and yours.