My third revelation of the New Year was the simplest, but it has sparked an amazing amount of momentum within my life. It is simply this: I am not irrelevant. It can often feel just a bit confining to be alone. That perspective is skewed at best, but anyone who has eaten dinner at a restaurant alone, left the sanctuary of their church alone, arrived home to a house that is empty, or spent Valentines’ Day avoiding all retail & media outlets knows what I mean… in a world built for “two,” being “one” makes you feel more like “half.”
One of the greatest shocks I received after becoming a single mother was that I was suddenly an enemy of the movement I had long championed: the “family values” group. Suddenly, I represented everything they were afraid of, everything they hated. I was the woman who had failed at marriage … not once, but twice. I was the single mother whose kids were doomed for felonious misadventure… I was THAT girl…
I learned just how strong that stigma was on a rainy Sunday morning. A married gentleman saw me with my two children – one of whom was not yet walking – and he offered to go get my car and pull it up under the portico so that I wouldn’t have to take the children out in the rain. I gratefully accepted. It wasn’t until he pulled up in my car and handed me back the keys that I caught a glimpse of his wife’s face. She was … unhappy, to say the least. I’m afraid that the poor man probably got a tongue-lashing on the way home, and I probably got labeled as the woman who was trying to steal her husband away. After that incident, I declined all offers of help; it was just simpler that way. Clearly, none of the married couples were going to be asking me out to eat with them anymore either, so I had to set off on a new quest: redefine where I fit as a unicycle in this world that prefers bicycles built for two.
That answer did not come easily. Truthfully, no one else knew where I was supposed to go either. In my church, I tended (and still tend) to get shuffled between the youth group (clearly, at almost 36, I’m a little too old for that) and the elderly widows (love those ladies, but they have great-grandchildren that are older than my kids). Since I didn’t really fit, I chose option C – fade into the background. Worked pretty well, for the most part, but I didn’t feel connected with my church. Didn’t feel connected anywhere. There was a very real part of me that wanted to seek out a new relationship just so that I felt like I belonged in a church, at a grocery store, or just generally on the planet. That would be a really bad reason to pursue a relationship, so I needed another direction.
On that New Year’s Eve-Day dawning, God had already told me that my dream wasn’t dead. He had already told me that my home was not broken. The final revelation was where I “fit.” In those early hours, I saw that while I was alone, He was personally molding me, making me into who He wanted me to become. And just as He was shaping me, He was shaping my place in the world. I was right about one thing – I didn’t fit…yet. Both my place and my character were still in formation, under His guidance.
As my eyes were opened, I began to see was just how many people were rocking along in the same boat that I inhabited. There were a LOT of us. We were just invisible. I began to reach out to others, sharing my story, listening to theirs. What I learned is that many wounded people leave the very place they need to be – the church – because they feel isolated and out of place.
The statistics on marriage and divorce are rather staggering. When you add in widowhood and those who never marry, there is a very large percentage of the population that isn’t in a traditional family. It is completely unreasonable that those people – such a huge number – should all feel inconsequential to the body of Christ. This is particularly true when you look at one glaring fact: the author of the vast majority of the New Testament was a single man. If Paul could be that effective on his own, well, why not me too?
So my quest in this year is not to find “the one.” I’m not looking for anybody to “complete me.” Jesus did that. I’m looking for every opportunity that I can to spread the gospel, to magnify & glorify the name of Christ, to reach the unreachable & touch the untouchable. I’m putting “hands & feet” on my faith. I am not irrelevant to the body of Christ. In fact, I’m pretty relevant all around, and I’m moving forward. Anybody want to come along?