During lunch on Mondays, we fast and pray for God to raise up men to lead His church and families, for women’s hearts to soften and for marriages to be given to those who desire them.
While recently serving in the church nursery, I met one of the other helpers and, while getting to know one another, she asked me, “So where are you in life?” I was caught off guard by the question — what did she mean?? What was I supposed to say that wasn’t awkward? Does she see that I’m not wearing rings and is drawing conclusions? Do I have to try to explain my confusing life to a stranger?
I still have no idea what she meant, but since she followed it up by asking if I was in college (bless her), I decided to let it go. She then proceeded to spend the rest of the nursery time chatting with the other helper about their respective children’s “progress” in life, recounting their mutual friends’ wedding details from 20 years ago, and swapping details on the moms’ ministry that meets weekly to pray for schools.
Hear me: all of these things are good things. I would have gladly participated in the conversation if I knew how to. Let’s just say I have never been so grateful for toddlers in my life. I could have hugged all of their dear little Cheerio-covered selves for providing an excuse to get away from what felt like the weirdest nursery duty experience ever.
[Afterwards, the snarky part of me wished I had answered her question by saying “Oh, yes. I’m in the ADULT part of life.” The part where you have to pay bills and go to work and cook dinner and do the laundry and get the raccoon off the back porch. But I digress.]
The story is not about my snark. The story is more about the fact that I quietly told Jesus how terrible this whole thing was feeling. How much shame I was feeling for things that really shouldn’t cause shame. How I felt so utterly out of the cool kids (and moms) club.
A few minutes later, another mom/church staff member came to check on our classroom. She asked me questions about my life. I asked her questions about her life. I shared good things and hard things about being single, having all my siblings married, and exploring new vocational possibilities. She shared good and hard things about being a mom of young adults, of having a child with chronic health issues, and of managing a growing children’s ministry at church. We were able to laugh and be compassionate with one another. I felt completely different at the end of my conversation with her. My heart was lighter. And then I thought of my earlier silent prayer and smiled. I thanked the Lord for His kindness and care.
When I thought about the situation later, I realized how much I want to be like the second woman. How much I want to extend kindness to people whose lives aren’t making sense to them, much less to someone they just met. How much I want to be able to laugh and/or cry with people whose circumstances are very different from mine. How I want to be willing to show genuine interest in people, even when I’m not sure where to start. And even when that other person is my awkward nursery coworker.
I’ve definitely got a long way to go on this journey. Ironically, I think it is partly the experience of unintentional singleness that has softened my heart to want to be more thoughtful at all. This week, I want to be more gracious and kind as I interact with folks whose stories are very different from my own. And be a bit more grateful that God is shaping and teaching and caring for us, no matter “where” we are in life.
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. [Romans 12:9-12]
By His Grace,