Recently the husband and I celebrated a big anniversary. If I tell you how long it would just tell you how old I am. We are the kind of old where our kids all drive and yet we have no grandkids. This is the age I call the “child wilderness” age. We have no excuse to watch the kid shows, go to the kiddie areas at theme parks, or go to the zoo.
However, the zoo is exactly what I told my husband when he asked what I wanted to do for our anniversary. So, being the caring guy that he is, he raised his eyebrows, closed the mouth that had involuntarily fallen open, and said “You got it”. And just as you might expect, we were the only adults wandering around with no stroller. No kids too exhausted to enjoy the giraffes. No picnic lunch squished in a backpack because we were in no way going to pay zoo prices to feed everyone. But as I watched the mothers who were living that experience, I remembered all the feelings. I had been there. I knew what I wished I could do to help. Push the stroller up the hill. Watch their things while they tried to usher everyone into the bathroom. I remembered the things I would have loved for someone to do for me when I was the fun/exhausted mom.
So that’s probably why I couldn’t help myself when we wandered into the gift shop to cool off on the way out and I overheard a dad standing by his 6-year old son who was looking at animal puzzles longingly. He was trying to whisper, but I have supersonic mom ears so I heard that they had to pay for a hotel last night and didn’t have a lot of money to spend on a special treat.
As we stood across from the cashier to pay for a few things I was so happy to ask her to just charge us for what the little boy was holding. We walked out smiling. And as we had almost reached our car we turned around to a big “Thank You!” yelled from a happy 6-year old and appreciative parents who looked at us with that “Thank you for seeing us” look.
When we truly understand what people are going through we can help in ways that only those who KNOW can.
As women continue to make up the majority of workers on the field, we can’t overlook their unique needs. Sending agencies historically have men in positions of leadership. And these men in many instances do a great job of seeing to the needs of those they send. But having never been a woman, there are certain idiosyncrasies that will never be forefront in their minds as they make decisions.
Men may not understand the sacrifice that some women feel as they go from no children to raising kids on the field. The death of serving in a way that made them feel like a part of ministry and the entrance of the voice “Am I still making a difference?”
They may not understand the struggles of being a single woman and feeling like you are not accepted as a fully capable team member without a husband.
It may be hard for them to see how to best encourage, support, and equip those women in a Muslim context who are separated from men and hear so many stories of abuse of women as a norm.
So as a woman who was sent, as a woman who now encourages those who are sent, I would encourage sending agencies to have women in places of leadership. Not only can they bring incredible wisdom and insight to the table, but the feeling of being truly known and truly seen by the majority of those they send out.
Do you have a sending agency that does this well? We’d love to be encouraged by that. Share those stories in the comments!
Do you have areas where you wish you were seen? Those are helpful comments too.
We hope that no matter what your experience is with those who send you, you feel seen and loved here.