“Not long after my husband and I started having children, Joyce invited me and a number of other young moms into her home. As I entered, I noticed how lovely and orderly everything was, how wonderfully the food smelled, how the table was set. As Joyce introduced herself and everyone settled in to a little chatter, my first impression was that this was clearly a woman I could learn from. She was kind, warm, and comfortable with people.
Later in our visit, I found myself telling Joyce about a challenge I was facing in parenting. She responded by saying, “I’ve never had children, so I don’t know if this will be helpful, but here’s what I’ve observed with my nieces and nephews.” This surprised me — even more surprising, that she had never been married. I hadn’t considered the possibility that the woman eager to take some green moms under her wing would be single. I am thankful she did.
Emily is ten years younger than I am. I first got to know her when I started cold-calling families from our church directory desperate to find babysitters for the mass of children in our small group. She was in high school at the time, and she, along with her younger sisters, agreed to help. They faithfully served our small group for the next six years.
After Emily started college, I was in over my head with children, schooling, and everyday life. I asked her if she’d be interested in coming weekly to help me out. She agreed, and her commitment to the job was refreshingly reliable. She showed up and worked hard. She shared the knowledge, tips, and habits she’d learned from her mom — made all the more poignant when her mom passed away from cancer during her freshman year at college.
I learned a lot from Emily, including a better way to match socks. And that organizing can be simple. But most importantly, I learned about faithfulness — faithfulness to your commitments and faithfulness to God in the darkest of times.
My Aunt Julie has always been an integral part of my life. Her lifelong singleness has been a gift to us. I don’t say that to minimize the difficulty of it. Her singleness, coupled with her willingness to love us, warts and all, and take us under her wing, has been a type of auntly mothering that is as precious as it is unique.
When I watch my two-year-old son’s face light up at the sight of her, or see the older kids sprint to invade the privacy of her room, I’m thankful.
And time would fail me to tell of Char, whose devotion to God and his people and the unreached around the world was a force that could topple kings and nations.
Or Great Aunt Ola, who at one hundred years old still would pray before a meal in Swedish, and never met a child who didn’t qualify as one of her “peanuts.”
Or Sue, a single mom who taught me how to pray and love others when I was a pesky teenager.
Or Lindsey, who loves our youngest son with special needs enough to expect more of him than I know to, and who uses her skills as a physical therapist to do good for others.
The faithful witness and example of these single women is beautiful. I have a lot to learn from sisters like these.”
Thank you so much for this!! Never have I seen an article talking about singles that rang so true! So often people talk about singles as “waiting” or how we should be loved only because “we have no one else” and it always paints us as such pittiful creatures. Thank you for writing with respect and wisdom about us, thank you for seeing us for who we are, thank you for seeing that our singleness does not diminish our witness or ministry. Thank you and God bless you darling!
My pleasure to write about! May God bless you!
So many of my experiences and heartache and joys are encapsulated in Abigail’s post. My sentiments and thanks echo Tora Jayne’s words – I can’t say it any better.
I have felt marginalized as a single woman for years. A bit by the larger culture. Mostly by the Church.
Thank you for pointing out that we singles have value and worth and wisdom in our own right and that the stereotypes imposed on us aren’t true.
I hope that readers will take the words here to heart and apply them and be more aware of us as people instead of marginalizing us and putting us aside.
It did my heart a world of good to read this!!
Grateful for your response. God’s grace to you!
Oh my….Abigail, thank you. This is the first time in my life I’ve heard such a perspective from a married lady. At almost 40 and contentedly single, I constantly encounter pity, unsolicited “advice”, “wisdom” and “teaching,” or “you’ll meet someone” statements, as well as sort of a superior attitude about life’s knowledge. Your post opened my eyes to the reason for the melancholy I at times feel in the presence of married people in the body of Christ. I’m sure they are well-intentioned and don’t realize that they often make so many assumptions about singles, including we must be weak, waiting and lonely, and in need of only receiving wisdom, never giving it.
I feel like your post is full of the mercy of God: articulating and validating something hidden in my heart that I had not even allowed myself to think. I thank God for his grace shown through you in this article.
Our God is so merciful and gracious, as you said. My pleasure to point to him!
Omg!! Thank you!! As a single woman in my late 30’s I can’t tell you how much your post blessed me. Wow!!! Thank you!!
Grateful you were blessed!
I can’t express all the ways your article (I first read in desiringgod) ministers to me, especially coming from a married mom. I can’t believe how stunning it is for me to read these thoughts or perhaps that I haven’t heard such before – more to the contrary. Thank you, Abigail. Thank you very much for affirming our contribution to the Body of Christ and our family and friends.
I read this verse last Fall that blew me away. I hadn’t noticed it before, and the next evening at church, a precious child said almost these same words to me – amazing to me that God bothers:
Psam 113:9. “He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.”
God’s blessings on you and your family and everyone in your life. I truly can’t thank God enough for what He put in your heart to share.
I blogged about your article, which I really appreciated! I’ve been blessed with married friends who have honored me in the way you describe here, and I’m so grateful for it. I’m also grateful that you’re sharing this vision more widely. I’d love to see even more married and singles benefit from one another’s friendship!