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Category: Featured

Creating Boundaries in Church: Single Women are Servants, Not Slaves

Boundaries

I keep reading in well-meaning articles about how the Church relies so much on singles, because it was built on it–especially single women. After all, single women are servants to the church, and the most reliable of servants. Churches teach us to have Mary’s heart, but expected to work like Martha. Which brings me to my objection…single women are servants to the church, not slaves to it., and it creates a situation where we have to learn about creating boundaries in church.

So why this Mary-Martha conundrum? It’s a bit of a twisted thinking, really. First, when most churches say that singles built the church, they really want to say that they believe single MEN built the church. If you read through the New Testament, women don’t really have prominent roles after Jesus’ ascension. I get it. Men assembled the Bible and wrote the epistles. For centuries, patriarchal societies allowed only men to tell the stories from pulpits. We can analyze that one all day and for years…so let’s no go down that rabbit hole right now, because we’ve got enough to deal with.

The resulting consequence of the erasure of women from these prominent roles in Biblical stories (and from history as a whole, let’s be honest), is that men start to get this idea that THEY are the ones who did all the work. Never mind the good old saying, “teamwork makes the dream work,” eh? However, there were plenty of women involved in building the church, and building the churches we know and love. We may not know all their names and faces, but they were there.

Therein lies one of the problems in this patriarchal and outdated viewpoint. Too many single women are expected to do the work that keeps the church moving, but they must do so in an invisible manner. Sure, we are all called to servanthood. That’s just an expectation of our faith. No one should be expecting gold medals or call-outs from the pulpit.

However, we cannot keep going to churches were we are expected to do work, work, and more work to keep the church operating while we are not being spoken to from the pulpit. Again, single women are servants to the church, not slaves to it.

Excuses, Excuses…

The excuses for this over emphasis on single women giving all of themselves to the church has its roots in so many fallacies. The biggest one? No family obligations. Oh, really?  Some of us are single moms or have older parents that we care for at home. There are those of us with pets (and they do take work). Many single women are the only breadwinners in our household, and we have to work full time hours.

Another excuse is that it gives us a chance to meet single men. Oh really? Because so many single men our age are volunteering in the nursery where you’ve placed us? Or cooking in the kitchen for the church barbecue? Oh, wait…they’re also volunteering to send out invitations for the church auction? Nope. Women are much much more involved in these activities. Plus, there are far more women attending church than men anyhow. After a certain age, men really aren’t doing these things, either.

I’ve also heard horribly rude excuses, too. Sometimes we’re asked to do this background work for the church because it will keep us away from the married men. Oh yes, I said it. We’re just too much of a temptation for those married men, and the wives are fearful of us Jezebel-like single women. If you can’t hear my eyes rolling, they are. As if we’ve just been holding out our whole lives for a married man.

Boundaries in Church Mean Asks Not Expectations

Sometimes the work is just expected of us. No one even asks if it’s okay. This is where the harsh reality sets in, and we have to really learn about creating boundaries in church. If we say  no to volunteering, suddenly we’re made to feel so guilty. Like our singleness means we have no life outside of the church, so why can’t we do the work? As if we are nuns who took a vow to live our lives for the church itself.

I’m tired of reading articles that tell me how important I am to keeping the church running because my singleness is a gift to the church. It’s not a gift to the church. It is a gift God gave me. My story behind my singleness is mine, but it doesn’t belong to any church. It belongs to me and God. No church owns my singleness or my time. It doesn’t own yours either. Boundaries!

Now, I don’t want to discourage anyone from getting in some Martha time. I loved my time in youth ministry, and I wouldn’t have given it up for the world. I just want everyone to know they can say no. They don’t have to be slaves to their church, because the church doesn’t own them. There is a difference between faith and the church, and a difference between giving yourself to Jesus and giving yourself to the church.

We are busy single women. We have jobs. Our single lives are just as full and fulfilling as our married churchgoers have. Just because we want to help doesn’t mean we have to help, which is what creating boundaries in church is all about. It’s about us setting the rules that we have set with God, not rules that the church arbitrarily sets. Single women are servants to the church, not slaves to it. We need to remind people of that.

Boundaries

The Covid 19…Pounds! Getting Healthy Again after Pandemic Weight Gain

Exercise

As offices, restaurants, and churches reopen, how many of us have stripped out of our leggings and realized our pre-lockdown work clothes are just a little too snug? Well, I’m raising my hand pretty high right now. According to health experts, the average person has gained somewhere around 29 pounds since the pandemic began, and a lot of women have been binge eating while men have been taking out their frustration by exercising (so guess who is gaining those 29 pounds, ladies!!). So it’s time, I suppose, that we look at getting rid of this pandemic weight gain.

I do have to point out that this post is not about body shaming or fat shaming or anything. It is about looking at all the pretty pretty things in the closet and wanting to wear them again. It is also about making sure we’re being healthy, which can be done at any weight, size, or shape. All the Bible says is that our body is a temple, so we should take care of it. It doesn’t say we have to be a six foot tall supermodel with no cellulite or saggy breasts or hair in weird places and so on.

The second caveat to getting healthy is that everyone should discuss what healthy means with their doctor. For instance, I have hEDS (Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) as well as some other conditions. These issues limit the types of exercises my doctor allows me to do (like no more yoga. I’m so upset) and what foods I can eat (no rice, no lettuce…I so miss salads). So I have to be extra careful how I get back into those work clothes. As much as I love shopping–and I do soooo love shopping–I also really love the things I already own. Some of you may not have issues like I do, but since we’ve had all this down time with Covid, its good to make sure you’re checking with your doctor first before starting any diets or exercise routines. As we get older, things happen to our bodies.

Now, what can we do to get healthy as the world reopens? Here are some ways we can start getting rid of that pandemic weight gain:

  • Eat better. Yes, we know you love that whipped coffee from the online videos. Ooh, and that feta pasta recipe. They were so so good. However, we need to make sure we go back to eating more fruits and vegetables. Balanced diets are so important.
  • Avoid crash dieting. There is a reason they’re called “crash” diets, because you crash and burn at the end. Sure, you might lose weight fast, but it always comes roaring back–and sometimes worse than before. So stick to the healthy, balanced diet that works for your body.
  • Clean out the pantry. If you’re like me, you have a shelf with a few too many boxes of Girl Scout Cookies sitting there waiting to be stress eaten. Or a bag of Bambas. Take a couple hours to clean out your pantry and get rid of the temptations. If they’re there, you will eat them. It’s just a fact. God talks about a lot of temptations in the Bible, but not sure why chocolate and peanut butter wasn’t at the top of his list!
  • Get moving. An exercise routine is just what you need. Gyms are reopening, so as long as you feel comfortable working out with double masks, you can go. Otherwise, there is walking, online videos, and even just cleaning the house, garage, etc. can get  you moving more than before.
  • Be accountable. As Christians, we know the power of being accountable. We have had mentors in our church lives or prayer partners that help hold us accountable in our daily devotionals, Bible studies, etc. The same goes for being healthy. Having someone to turn to when you really want that chocolate cake at 10pm (a person who will actually talk you out of it, not that person who will go with you to get it…we know who you are!), can go a long way in meeting your health goals.

There you go. 5 ways to get healthier and lose some of this pandemic weight gain. Seems so simple, right? I wish. None of it is simple, but we’ve been pretty lackadaisical about taking care of ourselves for the past year. Now we pay the piper. So let’s get Biblical about it and take care of the temple that is our body, and regain our health.

Share your health tips and stories in the comments or on our Facebook page. I’d love to hear your ideas, struggles, and successes.

 

 

Exercise

You Must Be A Raging Feminist: And Other Lies about Older, Single Women

career

I don’t know how many times I’ve been called a raging feminist because I’m single–you know, just another one of those lies about older, single women that people love to tell. And I wish the church was different, but they can actually be worse.

Oftentimes the church gets super caught up in this Proverbs 31 woman as being the ideal, right? Not so terrible. She is married, works all day for her family and children, sells her wares, cooks, and does all these nice things. She doesn’t sound soooo terrible. Let’s not totally dismiss her. A lot of women in that era were probably doing all the same things as her.

However, a lot of people were also probably Jael’s, too. Or Deborah’s. Deborah was advising. Jael had no problems driving a nail through the head of Sisera. I mean, there were fighting women out there. They looked at the world differently. People rejoiced about their victories and celebrated them.

So where did we go wrong?

When did celebrating the strength of women become something terrible? When did we decide that women were something frail and fragile and weak?

Well, I don’t have the answer (because I’m no historian), but I will say, I’m glad to be accused of being a feminist. And if that’s why I’m considered single, I’m totally fine with that!

The Other Lies about Older, Single Women

But being called a raging feminist just for being single isn’t the only way people try to marginalize us. We’re called angry. We’re called rebellious. We don’t dress right. Are we lesbians? The church often questions if we’re possessed by a demon or not faithful enough. Oh yeah, that’s always a good one.

One of my favorites is that we’ve been sinful in the past, so this is God punishing us. Oh, really? So, all your fooling around in college then…your wife is punishment for your pre-marital sex? Hmmm.

Yeah, I can be a bit snarky, too. Probably another reason why I’m not married. It’s just not “feminine” enough.

I’m sure many of you have had people offer you their thoughts and prayers when you’ve told them you’re single…like you’re at a funeral or just found out your dog died. And the way they pale when you tell them you’re happy being single! The HORROR!!

Plus the Many Insults Galore

Those are just the insults we’re given when we admit to being single at our age, because you know the church expects us to be married no later than the day after we graduate college. Now you also get the guilt and the sadness, like they’re a parent or something.

Why would you want to die alone? They never like my answer that we all die alone. Or, don’t you want a man to protect you? Oh, they reallllly love when I go into rape statistics.

And then there are the women who just can’t be alone. Like it is some unfathomable thing to do things on your own or to think for yourself. Like, who is going to help you decide who to vote for? Well, that just makes my blood boil.

I know you’re reading this and probably thinking, “Yep, heard that. Ooooh, I’ve heard that, too!” And I know for sure there are some I’ve missed. I think I probably go to some pretty “liberal” churches, so I’d be interested to hear what backwards lies you all have heard from people in your churches. Feel free to comment below or share in the Facebook group!

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The Joy of the Christian Single Life

I’m not going to lie here, but it took me a while to find the joy of the single Christian life. Getting saved in my late 20s, I was ready to go save the world one person at a time, and I was going to do it with my Christian husband by my side. Why? Well, because that’s what the church told me was the right way to live my life. According to them, it was the only way to live the Christian life. We get saved, we get married, we have little Christian children–and the cycle continues.

Did any of that happen?

Absolutely not.

And I’m soooo much better for it.

The Christian Single Life’s Joy Gets Stolen

Finding joy in the single Christian life didn’t come easy, because the church steals it from us. Honestly, we get one narrative. So prepare yourself, because here’s the negative part of this post! I get really frustrated with how hard the church works at drilling this marriage narrative into everyone’s heads.

Really, I don’t know that I was ever meant to get married. I’ve tried to picture myself with a husband. In my dreams he was always a blank, bland, blurry thing. I chalked it up to God just not being ready to give him to me yet.

After many prayers and much soul searching, I realized that it wasn’t God not dropping a man in my lap. It was that I was meant to be single. I was trying too hard to fit myself into the church’s model of what my life should be rather than living out God’s plan for my life. My unhappiness and frustration was because every year I got older I felt more and more like a failure and a pariah. I just wasn’t fitting this picture perfect Christian woman persona.

It was making me so bitter, and I was getting turned away from the church.

Finding Freedom in the Christian Single Life

Ah, but here comes the better part of finding the joy in this Christian single life, because we don’t have to live in the parameters that any church outlines for us. We just need to live by what God wants for us. We have to live by the words that Jesus speaks. Once I started realizing that, I found so much more freedom.

I look more now at life with joy. I have my own time. My own space. I don’t look at the world like I have to find a husband everywhere I go. I felt this pressure lift and waft away. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t meant to get married, and I wasn’t going to have kids.

Scandalous, I know!

But I was so much happier admitting it. I found myself again, because I wasn’t trying to live up to this lie that the church had built up. I went places on my own. Hung out with single people and didn’t look for a man the entire time (or lamented about being single all night). I enjoyed the company for their company. I dated, but didn’t put the pressure of marriage on every date. It was so much more FUN.

I don’t believe Jesus meant for us to lose the fun in our lives. We need to have joy–and that also means finding the happiness in the Christian single life. We can embrace the singlehood. Bathe in it. Love it. It’s an amazing place to be.

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