Single Sisters, A Confession – By Gena McCown
When my husband and I got married, we were one of the first among our groups of friends. Life didn’t change much for us at that point, but then once our daughter was born things changed quickly. Our friends would call to invite us out, but that wasn’t always possible. In fact, more often than not, the answer was no. In the earliest days, I was just too tired from having a newborn. Eventually it was for no better reason than last minute excursions required large amounts of preparation. We had to find a sitter, pack up our daughter, drop her off, then of course pick her home, before returning home. Being completely honest, it wasn’t often worth the work. We wanted to see our friends, but the effort to actually go out was more than we were willing to give. Couple this with going from a dual income family of two, to a single income family of three… and our budget wasn’t really as free as it once was either.
Here’s the confession part…
For years, I never understood why my single friends didn’t “get it”. We understood that they didn’t fully understand what it takes to get a family ready for a night out. I just wondered how many times would I have to tell them that we needed more notice before that would stick. Eventually, after enough of our answering “no”… they just stopped asking. That wasn’t what we wanted, but it is what we got. Yet, I had never once considered what our change in life meant to our friends. They had lost a relationship with us, and frankly we let it go too easily. We could have done a better job of nurturing that relationship. And for that failure on our part, I’m truly sorry.
Looking back on those days, there is a lot we could have done. We could have been the ones to make plans, in advance, instead of waiting for their call. We could have countered an invite for a night on the town, with dinner at our house or coffee later in the evening. We could have intentionally made the effort to engage with our friends more regularly. I was too busy trying to figure out what they were not understanding about our new lives, that I was not able to see that I was dropping the ball too. Maybe I figured they’d be joining the ranks soon enough and we’d raise our kids together. But, the way it turned out was that most of our friends had just begun starting their marriages and families as we were on the end of the story. I have friends who have their oldest kids starting preschool this year, while my oldest is in college.
What I have learned over these years, to my regret, what that I failed to recognize and value those friendships in the way I should of. So caught up in my own world of change, I was unable to see that their world changed too. It also kept me from noticing their struggles in singleness. I have friends who are still waiting for their Boaz. So, what does this have to do with Women’s Ministry? Everything.
In book after book, conference after conference, study after study, and speaker after speaker… we’ve heard these words:
Our first ministry is to our husband and children.
So, we build up a Women’s Ministry robust with studies on being a better wife, becoming better mothers, dealing with the stress of marriage and parenting. We volunteer, have collection drives, or donate money to causes that champion mothers and children. We make meals for our new moms, moms who have a child in hospital, wives who have a husband in the hospital, and women who are newly widowed. We have MOPS groups, and volunteer at VBS, then eventually we graduating to volunteering with the teen girls at youth.
But, guess what? Not all of our women are wives. Not all of our women are mothers. They still matter, greatly.
The single women (without children) of your congregation are not interested in a speaker talking about intimacy in marriage… when she is still waiting. Nor is she interested in the latest potty training trends, or how to get your child to stop sleeping in your bed. She does not want to make a chore chart or a cute framed dry erase board for planning out meals. And, for the most part, she’s not interested in a class on couponing or making your own homemade laundry soap to save money. She also may not be interested in the “Young Adult” or “Singles Group” at your church if she feels like it is just a bunch of fishermen trying to snag a fish on a hook.
We have created Women’s Ministries around the idea that the majority of our women are married with children, and this focus has caused us to overlook our Single Sisters. Just as I was caught up in my own life and needs, I neglected to value my single friends… as ministries we can get so caught up in creating programs and events that meet our needs that we neglect the needs of our single women.
What do our Single Sisters (without children) need:
She needs sisterhood. She is looking for friends and companions. She wants a few women that she can hang out with on a Friday night, or take a morning jog with. She wants women in her corner that she can trust to support her, encourage her, and frankly just have fun with her.
She needs investors. She is looking for women that are going to speak into her life, words of truth and wisdom. Women who are willing to walk out faith with her, guide her, and hold her accountable. She isn’t looking for just a teacher to spout words at her, but investors who are willing to take their time with her.
She needs strength. Some women embrace singleness, and for others it is a struggle. If she struggles with singleness, she is going to need your strength to hold her up during those times. Your strength to hold her accountable when temptation comes her way. Your strength when her judgment is blinded. Your strength when a relationship doesn’t work out, or doesn’t happen at all.
She needs Jesus. Just like the other women in the church, your Single Sisters need opportunities to dig deep in the Word… in away that is not focused on marriage and children, and instead focused on Christ. She needs to be reminded that her worth is not tied up in how great of a wife she is, how wonderful of a mother, or having Proverbs 31 thrown at her every waking hour. She needs to know that she is made in God’s image. That she is valuable and worthy, strong and capable, a daughter and inheritor, and that she is commissioned to His great works.
There are a few things she does not need.
Unless she asks for it, she does not need to be set up on blind dates with your neighbor’s son or college buddy. She doesn’t need your pity, sympathy, or made to feel less than because she is “still single”. She doesn’t need to field questions about finding Mr. Right, when there will be a wedding, or if she wants to ever start a family. She doesn’t need to you to prod her with questions about past relationships to analyze what went wrong or what she could have done differently. And, she doesn’t need lessons on how to land a good man.
She needs women who will help her find value and confidence in herself, helping her to view herself the way God sees her.
As Women’s Ministry leaders we need to be encouraging our Single Sisters to join our leadership team and help us expand our Women’s Ministry to be inclusive and considerate of our Single Sisters. As we open our eyes and see that these women are part of the mosaic that makes up the sisterhood of believers, we become more intentional about the space we create for them in our community.