The Single Life

The Heavy Hope

Last week, I made a comment that may have opened some wounds. I knew it would. I said it anyway, because, though it was not for everyone that has walked that road, it was for some. And at times, words that seem harsh open eyes. And sometimes, those same words are worn by others they weren’t intended for. 

To both the intended and unintended, I want to say that you are loved. So much. The ache you feel is real and valid. Your cries are valid. I wrote a letter awhile ago on my old site. You may need it. 

I too have needed it. I wrote it for you, but this week my heart has been aching, longing for things that seem always just out of reach. I have wept a lot this week. For myself. For the ache. For the pull between wanting to make something work, and wanting to give up the hope altogether. So I needed to read my own words. I needed to preach to myself a bit. 

So today, we’ve already had one letter, but I share this one as well, because I need it and you may as well.


Friend,

I have been carrying an ache in my heart for you these last days.  To see you wrestle with this want, this beautiful, God-woven want…it peels back the covering of put-togetherness we all desperately try to keep tethered to the ground around our feet. But I have seen glimpses of the frayed corners of your covering. A picture. A 140 character sigh. A far-off stare occupied by a deeply rooted thorn in your heart. A one-ton tear breaking through your “I’m fine” eyes and cutting a path of escape down your rose-garden cheek.

You are hurting. And life has not stopped to allow it. Holidays have steamrolled through as a constant reminder of hope deferred.

Hope deferred.

Such heavy words. Such known words.

It is this child. Loved before known. Held in your heart before your arms. Prayed and planned for. And grieved.

I know only a glimpse of this child-longing. I have dreamed of the day I hold my little heart-capturer as well. But, I don’t know it the way you do. I don’t know the creating of space for the expected and having to fill it again with the what once was…not as a mother does. I don’t know the sharp entrance of the arrows of well-meaning questions of “when?”.

It is him. The one with whom you hope to battle all other deferred hopes. He is your delayed desire and as a friend so rightly said, the faces of the others only serve as reminders of him not yet here.

This longing I know. This heaviness of a bare-finger. This canyon of an empty hand. These arrows have left scabs, torn through with every probing “why are you still?”

Friend, I ache for you because I know the ache of Hannah’s heart. I know the sobs and seemingly drunken slurs of words tangled in heartache.  When approached in her mess, Hannah shot life-blood into her ache by breathing out the honest words; and the hearer agreed with her prayer. “May it be.” So I will do for you. “May it be.” May the longing of your heart be met, with all the poorly-timed truths people say when our hearts hurt-yes…with more love for Jesus-yes….with deeper trust-yes…I always want those things for you, for me, but today I will beg for you to find your longing filled, for hope to be deferred no longer, for arms to be filled with the one for whom you have created space, time and again. Let’s, even if for a moment, take down the tents of put-togetherness and trade them in for coverings of grace. Longings are allowed to be spoken there. Aches find a voice. Hope deferred is met with a “May it be.” And lament leads the way to life.

From my Hannah-heart to yours,

Erin

Letters to The Family: Cheryl

Last week zoomed by so quickly that I forgot to post our next letter. This week’s letter comes from one of my newest friends. A few months ago, I was chosen from 5000 people to be one of 500 to be a part of a launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s next book which releases in August (but is available for pre-order now). This amazing group of 500 has become the most life-giving, genuine online community I’ve ever experienced. We are all gathering in September. All 500 of us…or those who can make it. A handful of these new friends happen to live in my city, so we decided to have our own little hangouts. One of these is the dearest Cheryl Moses. She is a gatherer of people and she shines with such joy! I haven’t known her long but I’m so glad I know her now!

CherylIn her own words, Cheryl Moses is the  Secretary and Ladies’ Ministry Leader at Calvary Community Church in Houston, TX. She has been at Calvary for 24 years and in that time her understanding of who Jesus is and how big His love is for her, has grown considerably. “I’ve always had a heart for serving others and ministering to women. Yet for all that I am and profess to be, a re-purposed mess may be the best description I can give for myself. If God can use me to touch just one soul through anything I say or do, then my life has been well spent.” Cheryl is single and the mom to Beau, a beautiful black Shar-Pei mix, and Ebby, to a host of babies and toddlers at her home church.


Dear Family,

I could not be more appreciative of the many ways in which you’ve nurtured me and so many others along the way. I have been extravagantly blessed by the many ways I’ve been poured into over the years, but I’d like to share with you a few things I think you should know.

Be kind to singles. Please don’t ignore us.

Please don’t lump us into a group and then close the door on us, never to check in or inquire as to how we’re doing. Consider that we walk a different path whether by choice, circumstance or in waiting, and our lives are distinctively different from most.

Invite us to serve. Ask us personally, to do so. Please don’t ask the group and consider that our “special invitation.” See in us something worthy of pursuing – a gift you need in order to be complete as a whole. We want to be included.

Don’t assume that we have no interest in coming together with others who are not in our place in life, because that’s just not true. We understand the value of gleaning all we can from those in different life stages. We value your wisdom, your insight and your perspective on things and we hope you value ours.

We are not spiritually “less than” because we are only one individual. We have as much of the Holy Spirit as you do and our singleness does not make us incomplete or incapable of serving the purposes of God in any arena because we are just one entity. We have The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit living inside of us. So I guess that trumps all suspicion. If anything, we have less distractions to pursuing the Lord more passionately, and more persistently. So please don’t assume that we are less spiritual because we’re single and our life choices are different.

Lastly, please recognize that at times our life can be very difficult, especially in the waiting. Love from our brothers and sisters, hugs, kind words, invites to lunch after church and the occasional, “I’m praying for you,” impact us more than you will ever know. We may not say it or often let on, but being single sometimes is hard. Recognizing this fact and then making us aware that you care, can make a world of difference in a rough day.

Remember, we’re just like you, only we sleep alone! We talk to our pets instead of kids and we only have to pick up after ourselves. Our hearts yearn for what yours does: more of Jesus, to bring Him honor and to live our lives to the fullest in whatever stage of life we might find ourselves. See, we’re not so very different.

Blessing you,

Cheryl

Only A Woman

Joy Williams recently released a song, “Woman (Oh Mama)”. It’s a tribute to womanhood and while I prefer her earlier music, there is a line in her new single that perfectly describes how I am feeling at this moment.

“I am The Universe wrapped in skin.”

The universe is full of mysteries that will never be solved. It is complex, containing great big wondrous creations and tiny intricate slivers of life. It is full of light and dark. The universe is in constant motion but contained in the stillness of space.

I am the universe.

I want to speak honestly here, but I confess that I am afraid. I am afraid of what you might think. I am afraid that I might seem weak. Still, I know I am not alone in the place where I kneel. I know there are others with the same aches, same questions. So it is with fear and trembling, yet with humility and strength that I let my heart bleed out into my words.

You see, this past week, leading up to Mother’s Day, my tiny world was flooded with questions of a woman’s place.

I preached a sermon, my first, this past Sunday and it went well. I believe that God spoke through me, that He used me to say things that my church family needs to hear. But, I grew up in a tradition, different than the one I find myself in now, that taught me that men are preachers and pastors and leaders of the church. Women lead women and children and never men. So I wrestle with my place at the pulpit even when I’m sure the words in my mouth are from The Father.

Two days prior to my inaugural sermon, I came across a post from someone I respect that reiterated what I’d learned in my youth about women taking the pulpit. Doubt flooded my mind and heart. And the questions wrapped around my throat. More than “What is my place?”, the questions were “Woman. Who am I?” With prayer, and knowing I stood also in the support of many Godly men and women, the waters of doubt subsided and I spoke in the authority of The Spirit on Sunday.

Still, I’d be lying if I said I am certain now of where I stand as a woman.

And it wasn’t only my own questions. I had conversations with two students last week about women in leadership. Women in marriage. Women in life. They came to me, with hearts laid open. Looking for wisdom. Asking for a sounding board. Offering the pearls formed by the questions turning over in their minds. And I told them what I know. And I told them what I think. And I told them what I wonder.

See, this place in history, in MY history as well as in our collective history, is tearing at the soul of woman. On one side, the quest for equality is being blamed for the fall of mankind. But on the other, the strength of woman is being lauded as the missing piece finally found. From one voice I respect, “why women should not preach” and from another, “why shouldn’t they?“.

And then there was this:

“As a man gets more powerful and successful, he is better liked. As a woman gets more powerful and successful, she is less liked.”

And that makes women fear growth. As a single woman, it feeds the fear that if I continue to follow my ambition, my desire to grow into the things God has wired into my soul, that I will outgrow the possibility of ever being desirable to a man. It’s a lie. It must be. Men surely cannot be so intimidated or turned off by a woman following her dreams that he can only imagine life with a woman who has done nothing but wait for him to show up.

And yet, that is the lie that is fed to us so often.

And here I find myself, wrestling with these questions, this place in history ripping holes in the universe of my soul. I do not yet fully grasp who I am as a woman. Who I am meant to be. Where I am to stand.

Here is what I know:

  • I delight in what God is doing with my days.
  • I cherish the opportunities He has given me to grow.
  • I desire to use whatever platform He gives to speak life.
  • I enjoy this season.
  • I ache for a new season.
  • I  love adventure and dream of someone to journey alongside.
  • I pray for students and friends whom I am privileged to nurture in the now.
  • I weep for the not-yet of my children whom I long to hear call me mama.

See, there are mysteries within me that will never be solved by anyone other than the Life-giver. There are within me great big wondrous creations and tiny intricate slivers of life. Both light and darkness fill my skin. I am constant motion contained in the stillness of the Maker’s hands. I am a woman.