More Than a Penny for a Single Woman’s Thoughts

This week has been dubbed “Men’s Week” here at Velvet Ashes.  Because we’ve asked men to come and speak into our lives on the theme “What Men Wish We Knew.”  We invited Michael Buman to come to share with us today, and wow, we’re so very glad he said “yes”…  

 

Single women living in places far from home, this letter is for you, a word of encouragement from a single male colleague.

First of all, you are talented and gifted in spite of, well, in spite of nothing. You are talented and gifted because you are a daughter of the King.  He declares your value, and He stood in the gap for you.  No one has ever sacrificed themselves more fully for you than our Lord, and no one ever will. You are completely, relentlessly, patiently, tirelessly, loved.  Rest today, letting Him define and affirm you no matter what struggle or joy you encounter.

Thank you, also, for sharing your life with us.  Our teams are richer, our perspectives more complete, our understanding of the Father more full because you are here.  We want to hear what you think.  For a few years I worked on a teaching team at a Chinese university with 5 singles, two single guys and three single women. Many things made that team great but the ladies who were willing to open up and be honest about team issues, thoughts on the Word, teaching ideas and life in general really kick started us. Those moments when the women on the team opened up about a family problem back home, a theological struggle, or a relational issue with a student really helped my male teammate and I feel invited to do the same thing.

Guys sometimes feel intimidated by emotions. They are unwieldy and sometimes untrustworthy so when our emotions swell we often box them into a forgotten corner of our brain and do something that seems a bit less, well, chaotic. Like work, or play frisbee, or pretty much anything else. Sometimes we need a bit of encouragement and space before we really dig into saying what we think and feel. Thank you for caring about us, your single male teammates (and also married couple teammates as well), enough to ask questions and patiently wait for answers. Often times we don’t see the effects of emotional stress on our lives until someone observes and graciously inquires. In my experience working overseas I’ve often found those observers and gracious inquirers to be single women.

At this point I’m running the risk of being stereotypical. Guys avoid emotion and we need help drawing it out and dealing with emotion responsibly. Girls, you can help us do that! In many cases this is true (really!) but let me go back and highlight an idea that single ladies might need to hear again. Your thoughts are valuable to your teams. Your intellect. Your theological rigor. Your creative might as a teacher. Your skills as a researcher, organizer, and communicator of academic or spiritual content. All of these things are indispensable to your teams. Your spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and professional gifts are given to you by the Father for our benefit!

The pastor of the international fellowship I attend said this past Sunday, “You are in China as a gift to me! So if the Father gives you something don’t keep it for yourself, share it with me. I need it.” True words. And so we need you, the single women, to invest in us just as the Father has invested in you. Thank you for faithfully blessing your teams. I hope that as you open up your life and your gifts to your teams that they pour into you as well so that you can feel the fullness of a community that loves and serves each other. Blessings! We look forward to the next thing we will learn from you!

Do you feel valued for who you are and for the role you serve?

Photo Credit : Unsplash

9 Comments

  1. CJ October 15, 2014

    Thanks for saying this. I could read over and over again that I am “completely, relentlessly, patiently, tirelessly, loved.” It is good to know how significant and appreciated we single women are. We pour out and into everyone around us, perhaps especially because we don’t have a spouse to direct that attention to. But I encourage you, Michael, and everybody else out there, to keep an eye out for us and make sure we are getting poured back into too. I personally don’t have a team. I often feel starved for real, close community and rich corporate worship. I feel isolated and wonder if I will ever get married. Being a single woman on the field can be painfully lonely, and I don’t know about anybody else, but I know sometimes I pour into people genuinely and wish with all my heart they’ll return a little bit of the investment. I know the Bible says to give without expecting anything in return, but surprises are always welcome! So, I’m glad you’re grateful for us, brother, but please remember our struggles are deep and we need you all just as much as you need us. Thanks. 🙂

  2. Amy Young October 15, 2014

    My fav part: Your thoughts are valuable to your teams. Your intellect. Your theological rigor. 

    I appreciate knowing they are of value!

  3. Cecily Willard October 16, 2014

    Thanks for inviting me in.  I so needed to hear this, as I have found that men don’t really know what to do with my tears.  I wouldn’t call myself a crybaby, but I am a person with a heart and I think and feel deeply.  And, instead of having my emotions accepted, I find that they are dismissed and I am labeled as being “too sensitive.”  Thanks, Michael.

  4. Laura October 16, 2014

    “Your thoughts are valuable to your teams.” While I know this in my head, I find it hard to communicate my thoughts at times because I don’t feel my thoughts are valued. I’m told that they are, but because I feel my gifts and abilities and ideas aren’t fully recognized, I doubt those around me really, truly value what I say. Thanks for the reminder to keep sharing my thoughts, even if I feel like others don’t always see the value of them.

    1. T October 16, 2014

      Hey, Laura!  Keep trying and keep sharing!  I’m sorry that it seems others aren’t valuing your thoughts…I wonder if sometimes teams get stuck in an unappreciative and unaffirming rut.  It can be hard to change team culture, but please consider making the effort to affirm other people’s ideas, maybe right then in the mtg, or maybe just a couple of sentences after the mtg.  After others start to see how good it feels to have their thoughts affirmed, maybe they will begin to think of affirming others, including you!  I’m afraid that I am pretty oblivious in this area myself; sometimes it takes me seeing someone be completely deflated before I remember its importance…  I’d also suggest that you pray for your team culture to change.  I’ve been in some tough team situations before, and praying changed it and me.

      1. Laura October 16, 2014

        T, thanks for your encouragement, wisdom and understanding. I actually hadn’t thought of intentionally and actively affirming others’ ideas. Really appreciate that advice and will work on putting it into practice. 🙂 Prayer has definitely helped change my heart in the last few months, which has been encouraging for me to see.

  5. Michael October 16, 2014

    Thank you, ladies, for all of the comments.  CJ, thanks for your reminder that you need to be invested in as well as valued for what you add.  Certainly, the hope for community living is to mutually affirm and encourage one another.  When you affirm, we are encouraged to affirm.  When you invest in us, we are encouraged to invest in you.  As the process of mutual value and investment picks up steam I hope that our teams and ourselves as individuals grow stronger and healthier.

  6. Michael October 16, 2014

    Laura, thanks for your comment too!  Being told you are valued and really being valued can be different but a lot starts with how we treat other people.  Romans 12 says that we are supposed to outdo one another in showing honor, something critical to healthy team life overseas especially for singles.  When we go out of our way to love, serve, and honor our teammates with our actions and words we are fostering a depth that goes way beyond ‘positive vibes’.  I hope that your team can show you honor in a very tangible way this week and that you would be guided towards ways to honor and affirm them as well.

    1. Laura October 16, 2014

      Michael, thanks for the reminder to keep honoring and loving my teammates. God’s been working in my life in that area a lot these past few months, but I definitely needed that reminder again today. Thank you!

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