aloneness, Brene Brown, bubbles, church, courage, decades, discord, divorce, families, Gifts of Imperfection, King, leprosy, marriages, misfits, phenomenon, shame, single women, solace, starting over single
Most of these women are in mid-life, probably late 40s or 50s, maybe even 60s. They sit alone, because no one sits beside them.
Often these women, including me, enter the inner sanctum of the church long before the opening worship song. They find a place, about halfway down and walk in a couple of chairs toward the middle of the aisle – leaving spaces on either side.
But no one sits beside them.
It’s almost as if the church has an unwritten code, “A woman alone should be left alone.”
Yet these are the women who desperately need someone to connect with them. These are women who are searching for a place to belong and have not given up on God or on God’s people.
That’s why they’re visiting and attending. They need connection and they want to offer their gifts.
In her best-selling book, “The Gifts of Imperfection, author and researcher Brene Brown writes, “Love and belonging are essential to the human experience.”
These women seem to believe Brown’s quote and yearn for that love and belonging, especially within the church family, the so-called family of God.
Yet they remain stranded within this bubble of exclusiveness, ignored for the most part because they don’t have a man standing next to them or children hanging on to them. They don’t fit within the religious label of “family.”
They bring a sense of discord and unease to the rest of the people gathered to worship God within the comfort of their marriages and 2.5 average children.
It’s almost as if they carry with them some contagious leprosy, that if they are touched – they will spread the vicious trail of failure.
They are a reminder that fifty percent of marriages fail, even within the church.
They are a constant boil on the calloused traditionalism and legalism that has shut them out.
I wonder how many of these women are called and gifted to serve within the body of Christ, yet they will not be asked to serve because their silence within the bubble is required.
And yet – I salute them. Because they keep trying. They continue to visit, to attend, searching for that church body that will no longer shame them but accept them in spite of the divorce decree.
As I visit, as I search for belonging, I wonder what would happen if I would sit next to these women in the bubble. Yet what would that prove? I am one of them.
Sitting together as adjoining bubbles would only set us farther apart from the rest of the body, as a group of misfits in our designated row.
“That’s where the single women sit…you know, the divorced ones…the women who deserve to be left alone.”
Decades ago, I would have stood back as well and ignored these brave women who come alone and worship alone.
Because I did not understand. Because I felt secure in my comfort zone of man, wife and child.
Regrettably, I did not offer solace or a drink of cold water to those women and that was when they were even less noticeable. Fewer in number.
Now, more and more divorces climb the vines of our family trees and result in women alone.
So I wonder…how long will it be before churches try to puncture this bubble and accept the giftings that will ooze out?
How many more decades must pass before those women who are Starting Over Single will be recognized as daughters of the King and celebrated for their courage to attend alone?
I hope it will be in my lifetime.
I continue to search.
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