Yesterday I shared another’s Instagram post, in my Stories, and it had the quote, “We don’t hear enough about women doing epic, exhilarating, things without the comfortably defining presence of a man.”
Right after I posted it, and I mean almost immediately, I heard Holy Spirit whisper that people would misunderstand my intentions in sharing it. It wasn’t a corrective word but I’ve been thinking about it enough that it is important that I clarify…not because I feel like I need to explain, but because sometimes we think we know where a person is coming from when we really don’t.
Since our collective narrative around singleness is negative I don’t want you to write me off and miss the truth of what I am saying, because Friend, if you miss this part of my story, you miss seeing a piece of God He longs for you to see.
Recently, I sat in a meeting where someone gave me concessions for a certain thing by saying, “I know you have been wounded and you are still healing.” I was so confused and it took me a full minute to realize that this person thought I had a problem with men in general, and trusting them in specific. Given society’s narrative around singleness when it comes to 40-something single women, it shouldn’t have been a surprise.
But it was.
Friends, I love men. I have a deep appreciation for the men in my life who love and lead well. I am actively pursuing community so I have more Brothers to do life with. I love how differently God made men from women and that together we express the full image of God. I have spent the better part of my life anticipating the time when I would get married and have the privilege of submitting to the leadership of my husband, and while that might be incendiary language to some, it is absolutely the truth of what I longed to do, as he would love me as Christ loved the Church, giving himself up for me.
At the very same time, at 42 years old and never married, God has literally kept me for Himself, and I find myself navigating through a culture and society that treats me as “other” and the worst part is, they don’t even know they are doing it.
It was a Friday, in the first week of a new job, and one of my male coworkers said, “I hope you have a good weekend…with your dog”, as if he couldn’t imagine what else I would be doing all weekend other than just hanging out with my dog.
Recently, I had someone ask if my kids go to a certain school in question, assuming I had children. And since it wasn’t enough to have my whole life assumed, I had to answer that question with shoulders back and head held high, remembering I have nothing to be ashamed of.
My brother and nephews stopped by my office to pick up something and I stood in the parking lot next to his truck chatting for a few minutes before they left. As they pulled out of the parking lot and I walked back to the office a male coworker opened the door for me asking me, astonished, “Who was that?” When I proudly said, “My brother and nephews,” he retorted with, “Oh, I was like, she knows people?”
Over and over again, people make assumptions about my life as a 40-something single woman and while, no one comment is enough to leave me defeated and exhausted, it is death by a thousand cuts, if I let it. And more to the point, the people who say them prove in that moment that they don’t really see me.
They see their made up version of who Kathryn is, not the consecrated daughter of God who is complete and content in Him and Him alone, who has done the hard work of destroying the idol of the American Dream in her own life.
But then maybe that is the crux…we have so built up the idol of marriage and our small, limiting definition of family and we’ve married it with the Gospel, so much so that we don’t even realize how we have perverted it.
Psalm 72:25-26 says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Philippians 3:8-9a says, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”
Jesus, plus nothing, equals everything.
I love men. My Brothers in Christ add immeasurable value to my life.
What is also true is that Jesus has not joined me as one flesh to a man and it is incredibly important that I do “epic, exhilarating, things without the comfortably defining presence of a man” and tell those stories.
Because Jesus, plus nothing, equals everything and it’s time the Church was reminded.
Single men and women of God, go, live your life. Stop waiting for that special someone to live on mission with Jesus. You are waiting for the metaphor of His love, when you have the real thing available to you! What a travesty!
Married Church, it is time to wake up to the idol we have made of marriage and family and repent. Your single Brothers and Sisters need you to see us! Not the caricature society and culture has made of the single person, but the real person in front of you who does more on the weekend than hang out with our dogs, even though, admittedly, there is some of that happening as well.
Across the board, let’s determine to assume less, and do what my pastor says is the mark of maturity, and ask more questions.