So, this blog has been on my heart longer than any other. It stems from a range of emotions, most of which have been pain and disappointment. Looking at my journal, it dates back to November when I finally put thoughts onto paper, thoughts that have been swirling for many months prior. So many times I wanted to write, but I worried about what my married friends would think. Shame crept in. Guilt for being "needy" eclipsed my heart. Should I say these things? Am I selfish? As I listen to more and more single women at various stages, I know I have one thing that many lack…the balls courage to say it.
This world celebrates sameness. I feel it in my own relationships and struggles. The homosexual community feels it. The single moms feel it. The single dads feel it. The interracial families feel it. The 40-something single feels it. We all know how best to react to "sames" and “marrieds” or “marrieds with children.” Single is cool until you hit ~35, the time when safely most of your friends are married, many of which have kids. You are too old for the church’s single adults group. You can’t join your friends in their couples small group. You yearn for companionship when friends are on “date nights.” You want to push yourself forward to keep up when you really may feel like slowing down.
The simple truth: no one knows what to do with you. Everyone is celebrating sameness while you are wondering where “different” fits in neatly. it bubbles up everywhere from not being able to wear a certain dress because you have noone around to zip it up to not wanting to hang out with a group of friends because you will be the only single trying to navigate the conversations on partnerships, kids, etc. Nothing is wrong with you. You know this is where God wants or needs you to be right now, but you know that others [in church and out] don’t know how to respond.
I’ve been there. I’ve been there for sooooo long—WAY WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY longer than I ever imagined. While I am not there for much longer in that "phase" [blog post to explain that coming soon], I stand with you. My heart is with you. I will speak for you. I KNOW this is one reason why I was single for so long. My heart aches for you. Most importantly, I see you and I celebrate you. You are courageous and bold. Not many could walk so triumphantly in your shoes.
I hope I can speak for some of my sisters in this post. Women who are happy but single, women who are sad but single, women who are courageous to WAIT and are therefore single, women who have a higher purpose to serve God first and are single, women who are divorced and single, women who have made mistakes but trudge on single, women who defy “sameness” whether they wish to or not. Women who have no desire for marriage and/or kids and are single.
Being in this “often awkward” phase has made me look at a lot of things differently, friendship included. I’ve come to classify friends as “willing to see me on Friday/Saturday” a.k.a. true friends and “those who don’t.” I’ve actually let a lot of “see you on the weeknights” friends go. Right or wrong, I’m not sure. Nothing has been more hurtful than a married friend that has only agreed to hang out on weeknights because she spends weekends with family. Well, guess what?!?! Just because I’m single does not mean that I don’t also have equally important things to do. When you never offer me weekends, I hear “your life is less than mine so let’s work out the schedule according to what is convenient for me and my family.” Yeah, I get it that many responsibilities come with families but I have several friends that prioritize friendships and nurture those on weekends when it is mutually beneficial. Friends are gifts. I think it’s healthy and please hold me to that when I have a family.
Despite roles and children and spouses, we are all essentially women. Why can’t we come together and connect as who we are? The rest is adornment and roles and obligations. They do not take the place of who we are. We nurture one another. We support one another. We need one another.
I was thinking of ways for others to love the single woman in your life. These are things that I wish had happened to me more and some things that have been placed on my heart from observations and divine conversations:
- Send a Mother's Day card to the single mom. There's no "Dad" to orchestrate Mother's Day celebrations. Elaborate on her superhero-ism. Imagine YOU doing all that you do with no help from your husband, family, etc. The way you dread that business trip your husband goes on because it leaves all the work to YOU? She does this everyday. She has no choice. She doesn't complain.
- Listen to your single friend drag on about all the bad dates she has been on without telling her she is too picky or giving advice. We are our own worst critics....but sometimes we just need an ear. We don't have a boyfriend or husband to listen [or pretend to listen] so we could use you and a glass bottle of wine.
- Invite a single to have lunch with you after church. Insist, even. Even if we decline, we are so thankful that someone "saw" us. We regularly go unnoticed but too often avoided.
- Have your S.O./husband do something that "men" do like an oil change. Let me tell you. I HATE getting my oil changed. Because I'm short on time, I go to those quickie places that try to sell my everything under the sun. I can be forthright but they still overpower me each time trying to sell me into replacing every kind of filter I have never heard of. Each time, I lie. Yep, I lie. You heard that Jesus. LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE. I always add a "Let me write that down and have my husband/father/boyfriend/brother check that" along with my look of concern. I hate it. The one thing I cherish most about a future marriage? The man getting the oil change. Period. Ask her if anything needs to be done at her house and offer your man. You can drink wine and listen while he changes that hard-to-reach lightbulb.
- Another no-man's land? Weddings. It soooo sucks to be one of the last few singles at a wedding. There's no more torture than this. [note to self in wedding planning....] For the love of Moses, have your man/date bring back a drink for y'all AND the single. We have to watch love marry, sit among love at the table during dinner, watch love slow dance...just get us another drink to survive.
- Invite the single over for dinner. Just because we do not yet have our own marriage, that does not mean we can't appreciate and learn from yours. So many dreams I have for my marriage and family I have learned from watching successful friends.
These are just a few ideas that came to mind. I'm sure you can think of many more, better ones. Think of one thing you'd hate to do on your own without your husband's help and then consider that the single does this all the time, or has to pay for it.
I know sometimes you are tired of hearing the same date #1 story time after time after time. But, listen anyway. Listen with the same love we showed you as you described your bloody areolas and your home remedies of laying frozen pea bags on your boobs for comfort. Despite the stage, condition, woes, we are all women, right? We are all trying to navigate womanhood as best we can? Let's be an ear and shoulder for one another.
Single gals? Comment below if you have additional ways you want to be loved. [Marrieds, when I'm married, I'll make an argument for loving the married too but I ain't got that material yet....]
Let's just go "woman" better.
With one foot in single and one foot in married, Danielle
About the Author: Danielle is a multi-faceted Jesus follower, Southern Belle, wine drinker, and foodie. She enjoys the finer things in life such as board games, purging and organizing, cooking, blogging, conversation, and recycling to save money for a future adoption. She has a Master’s Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences and is currently pursuing graduate courses to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has a heart for missions and has traveled to and served in South Africa for the past six years. Hailing from Mississippi, she enjoys immersing herself in new cultures even when uncomfortable in her current state of California. After years, of “troubleshooting singleness,” she is pursuing a fiance visa for the love of her life that she met while serving in South Africa. She welcomes emails at DanielleSJones@gmail.com. You can read more about her adoption process or thoughts here.