It should be enough. But it isn’t.
Our faith and our womanhood should be enough to bond us to one another, enough to join our lives to journey together.
But all too often walls are built between us. Status stands in the way.
She’s married. She’s not.
She’s got kids. She doesn’t.
She’s older. She’s young.
She’s like me. She’s … not.
When my family and I left China to go back to the States for a two year study leave, we moved to a place we’d never lived before. We had to build our friendships and social life from scratch. After five years on the field, five years of having our social life determined by the teammates that were chosen for us, I was rather looking forward to a wide range of friendship options to choose from myself.
So we found a church, a Sunday school class, a small group, a MOPs group. After a few months, I looked around and something struck me. Every single friendship I’d built, every single one, was with women in my exact same stage of life. We all shared the same status: married with young kids.
I realized why I’d done this. It was easy. This is where I naturally, comfortably fit in.
But it just didn’t feel right.
I loved my same status friends, but if they were all I had, well then, I knew I was missing out. Perhaps before I would have been content with this social set-up. But life overseas had changed me.
The field has a way of lumping together all of life’s stages into a sometimes-too-close-for-comfort kind of community. Suddenly complete strangers of all statuses become your surrogate families. And it gets messy.
I’ve seen fresh newbies pumped with passion accuse the veterans of not doing enough.
I’ve seen young singles criticize parents for how they discipline their kids.
I’ve seen older moms blow off a young mom venting about her overwhelming parenting woes with an unsympathetic, “Just wait until they’re older. Little people, little problems.”
I’ve seen married folks tell singles to “go back to America and find a mate.”
It’s all too easy to see life only through the eyes of our own status. Too often careless words slip from our lips and fall straight as a dagger into another’s heart.
Hurtful words can come from anyone, but we often want to stay hidden in our segregated status corners, because, let’s be honest, our shared status buddies are less likely to unknowingly shoot these daggers. It’s easier, and just straight up less awkward this way.
But, here’s the thing. When we stay in our little corners, when we surround ourselves with only those that are like us, it’s like eating the same meal every single day. Sure it may be a great meal, but is that really all you want all the time? There is so much more flavor and goodness to be had!
The beauty of too-close-for-comfort communities is that it’s really, really hard to ignore and hide from those that are different. Hiding and ignoring makes for extremely uncomfortable team dinners. Right?
So instead we’ve got to dig in and do life together. We’ve got to serve side by side, pray hand in hand.
And as we do so, something happens. Slowly I begin to see life through your eyes. I start to feel your joys and taste your sorrows.
Then one day, there’s no more status standing between us. You’re just you. And I’m just me. And together we’re doing life. We’re there for each other and needing each other.
Yes, we’re surely going to say dumb things. We’re going to get rubbed the wrong way. But there’s grace and forgiveness enough for us all. And in this process, our souls will be sculpted, our lives deepened and blessed.
You’re different than me, and I need you for that.
But also, we’re the same. At the end of the day, we are all searching, hurting, hoping. We’re all cherished, forgiven, redeemed.
Something special is going on here at Velvet Ashes. I think we all sense the life-giving breath about this place. This week we had stories of singleness, marriage, and parenting. And you, dear Velvet Ashes, you all showed up. You poured blessing and hope and courage on one another.
Here in this space, we’re all women changed and shaped by this great big world of ours. We are the beauty and flavor of all colors, stages and statuses. We are here mentoring and being mentored. We’re here rallying within our statuses, and we’re here standing side by side, no walls dividing.
Now it’s time for everyone to join in and share your thoughts, words and art on our prompt “Status.” It’s what we do each week here at The Grove. I am every time amazed at what you all come up with.
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