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I remember holding one of their newborns. I rejoiced with her over her new baby even as she sought to support me during my time of infertility. She asked me questions so she could better understand my struggle and be a safe place for me to be honest about my emotional struggles.
Here’s how I’d summarize what I learned during these experiences.
First, the depression I experienced as a single (which I thought was completely tied to the issue of being single) really was about much more than singleness. It was about loneliness, insecurity and discontentment with God’s plan for my life. And that same struggle has crept its way back into every stage of life I’ve had. I’ve found that changing my circumstances isn’t the hope of release from depression, because inevitably the depression returns in a slightly different form, regardless of how my circumstances evolve.
Second, I have found great encouragement from godly women at differing stages of life. These women were good listeners who were honest about what they did and did not understand about my struggles. They helped me not feel alienated, like I had as much to offer them as they had to offer me despite the differences in our life experiences. And now, as a married woman with two kids, I find some of my greatest sources of encouragement are from single friends who have never been married and have no kids.
If you are an older single woman, transitioning out of a time when being single was fun into a season in which it feels a heavy burden, I encourage you to think on this question: How are the mental, social and emotional battles you face “common to man”? So often, we tend to compartmentalize struggles, but I would like to submit that while there is a unique aspect to the struggle you face, there is also a common element to it that identifies you with all Christian women regardless of stage of life.
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Cor. 10:13).
I am burdened that we tend to alienate ourselves (and sometimes our churches facilitate that alienation with extensively segregated ministry) based on the particular burdens we face. Divorced. Single. Mothers. Newlyweds.
I'm not discounting the value of counsel specific to our stage of life, but I'm also burdened that we not discount the commonality of our burdens. Whatever emotional battles you face now, tempting you to doubt God and despair over your circumstances, they are not unique to you or your stage of life. They are “common to man.”
You likely experience intense emotional battles (discontentment, loneliness, alienation, despair). You probably experience sin battles (sexual sin, gossip, bitterness). You have many sisters in Christ who have experienced similar variations of the struggles you face. You need your Christian family. Don’t allow Satan to use feelings of alienation to marginalize you in the church.
"But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' … But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (1 Cor. 12:18-27).
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