Remember when I introduced you to my friend, Erin, here? If not, let me share what I said about her then, because it is still true today: Erin is one of the most genuine people you will ever know. A complete breath of fresh air. She's one of those people that when you ask her "How are you you?" She'll give you an honest answer. I love that about her. She never has on the Christian mask. With Erin, what you see is what you get. One of my other favorite things about Erin is how well she loves others. I mean every time you are with her you feel like you've received a giant hug. It's a real gift she has. She doesn't try to live in the Christian mold, but she doesn't try to break it either. She just strives to be who God has uniquely created her to be.
If you are married, I am so thankful you get to read this. I just finished reading through this and my head and heart are so stirred. I found myself wanting to jump to the next paragraph to see what else Erin would share, yet steadied myself on the present word to soak it all in. I feel at a lost for words, but so thankful Erin wasn't. I hope Erin changes your perspective and encourages into grace even more. Be open minded and willing to receive. I asked Erin to write this from the perspective of herself writing to a married friend... you are that friend
My sweet friend,
You are so important to me in more ways than I could even begin to tell you in this letter. I am incredibly grateful to call you friend. The years, months, days that we have been friends have been a blessing. Watching you fall in love, serve, struggle, and/or grow with your husband has been amazing.
But, I also miss you. I miss our conversations. I miss that we used to connect when we talk. Now we just share stories like a lifestyle magazine. “Just the highlights please. Let’s not complicate the pages with the less than glamorous details of life.” I miss that we could have the type of friendship where we actually talk about life. (Life being the condition of our hearts not the tidiness of our houses or the fullness of our schedules.)
I know we are in very different seasons of life now. You are married. I am single. You have spousal arguments…discussions. I have stage 2 communication on eharmony and awkward first dates…but even those are few and far between. You may be waking up with the baby at 2am. Chances are I did not even go to bed till 2am last night. Life is different for us. But I still want to know your heart. I want to celebrate the victories with you. I want to cry with you when things are hard. When you are overwhelmed and need help cleaning house or running errands or watching the kids, I want to help. It’s ok for you receive my help. I wouldn’t offer it if it was a bother or inconvenience to me. And even if it is and I offer anyways, love at times requires sacrifice and I love you and your family.
I also want you to know me. I want to sit on your couch and tell you what has plagued me lately, what question has been keeping me up at night. I want to call you and tell you about the awkward first date or the awesome second date. I want have long conversations about all we are learning from the Lord. I want your advice but not as much as I want your prayers.
To be honest, I feel shut out by you most of the time. I don’t think you do this intentionally. But you get caught up in life, in trying to be the perfect wife and mom. And I’m not innocent either. I get distracted by life too, trying to convince the world and myself I know what I’m doing. But, I need you in my life. I need you and your family. I need to be able to talk to godly married women and their husbands, not just watch from the bleachers. I need to see you love each other to be reminded that there are men worth waiting for…that 28 and single is better than 22 and married just because I didn’t want to be alone. Sometimes, as a single woman, I need advice from godly married men too. But, let’s be honest, if I am not a part of your family’s life, if I am just on the outskirts of your life, I can’t exactly approach your husband with a question now can I? I have questions for you too. And sometimes, I need to know what the heck I'm supposed to do with this sex drive as a single person. You may not have the answer to that, but I bet you have something to say about it. And again, not a question I’m going to feel safe bringing up with you if the only time I see you is on Sunday mornings at church and in large groups. And I don’t just need you. I think you need community too. With other married couples, yes, but also with singles. With groups, yes, but also with individuals. I don’t have kids but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have any wisdom to offer into your questions…and at the very least, I want to pray for you and your spouse and your kids.
I should confess at this point that I have been guilty of thinking I should sit at your feet and learn from you because clearly you are “ahead” of me in life. I have believed the lie that the wisdom you have gained in marriage is of immeasurably more worth than the wisdom I’ve gained in my extended years as a single. What a broken belief! The lessons God has taught you are invaluable. They are important and I need and want to learn from what you have walked through. But please, help me not to buy into the lie that I am less of an adult because I do not have a diamond ring. It is all too easy for me to feel like a 16 year old in a room full of married friends. I often assume that the married women I meet are older than me, even when they are in fact younger than me. This is my battle. It’s a lie I have believed, but I need your help. I need you to love me like I’m your friend…not just your “single” friend. I don’t mind having conversations over laundry or a crazy lunch time with children. I don’t mind deep talks interrupted by “Mommy, momma, mommy, mom, mom, mom…” I also don’t mind hearing about the latest drama of housewifedom (something I long for, not something that is “less than” by any stretch of the imagination), but I want to talk about other things too. When we are having a ladies night and most of the guests are married, please don’t forget that not all the guests are. Again, we love hearing about your life as a wife and a mom. But, we also want to be a part of the conversation and well, we just don’t have much to say in the way of changing diapers or explaining PMS to a husband.
And let me ask you, while I am here, to please appreciate your life. (Yes, the same advice comes right back at me.) Please don’t bash your husband to me, or anyone. If you are struggling and need encouragement in loving him well, that is one thing and I will certainly pray with you over that. However, please don’t just complain about how he doesn’t lead, doesn’t clean, doesn’t appreciate, etc. Please remember that once you had to make major life choices on your own. Job change? Major purchase? New city? You used to have to do that by yourself. I still do. It’s scary. It feels unnatural. Now you have someone to navigate the seas with you. You have someone who can hold your hand when you are afraid. You have someone who is a natural, safe person to call when your car breaks down. You have someone built into your day that will mourn with you and celebrate with you. Maybe you are thinking, “Erin, just because I’m married, doesn’t mean I have those things.” And to you I say, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry if your husband does not hold your hand or come rescue you (lovingly) when the car breaks down. I’m sorry if you feel stuck in a lonely marriage. Honestly. My heart breaks for you. I am lonely too. Let’s cry and pray together. And even if you are one who does have that awesome husband and aren’t in a lonely place, I know that you and I still have emotional, spiritual, and physical struggles and joys in common. Our circumstantial struggles and joys may be nothing alike, but circumstances are fleeting anyways.
So please. Let’s not be each other’s “single friend” or “married friend”. Let’s just be friends. Sisters. Let’s share life: joys, heartaches, frustrations, silliness. Let’s share joy and tears over laundry and scrubbing floors and grocery runs. Let us not give into the lie that the difference in our marital status or any other circumstance means that we have nothing in common or that our schedules are too different to find time for each other.
I love you too much to just accept that we are in different places now and that’s just how it is.
I hope that what you hear in my words is grace and hope for both of us to figure this thing out. I hope that what you hear is an invitation. I hope that what you hear is that you matter to me.
Erin Woods is an avid fan of people and words. She is an extroverted singer-songwriter and spends her days teaching kindergarten through 5th graders about Jesus. Check out her music website here. She occasionally blogs about life-lessons here. You can also find her on twitter and friend her on Facebook.
Tammie Head (An challenge to single ladies)