When I first realized my marriage was definitely over, I did what any good millennial might do – I turned to the internet. I read blog posts, books, listened to podcasts, watched YouTube speeches. You know how that goes.
And I found a strange theme through all of it. Most of the advice I read was about how to come to terms with co-parenting, how to protect your kids when dating, how to fix your mistakes when finding your NEXT husband, how to repent and ask for forgiveness, how to apply for government assistance – because, ya know, “You might as well face it. You are a single mom now.”
I found none of this helpful. I wanted to learn how to support myself well without assistance–and without a man. I wanted to learn how to be comfortable with the family I have instead of trying to fill an empty position in it. I wanted to learn how to offer my kids grace when life becomes stressful. I wanted to learn how to tap into the strength that God offers us to raise my kids in love and live a joy-filled life.
But most of all, I wanted to learn how to be a good Christian woman without a husband.
Ouch. Yep, I said it.
I grew up in communities where women were defined by their relationship with a man. They asked their husbands for permission and got closer to God by submitting to the head of household. Women were not allowed to pray out loud if there was a man in the room and they absolutely couldn’t have intelligent Biblical conversations with a man that wasn’t their husband.
I can admit that I wasn’t easily controlled as a wife, but more often than not I grit my teeth and knew my place. But still that loss of connection with my husband made me feel a little lost in my faith. I wasn’t sure how I would relate to other Christian women. I wasn’t sure how I could be around other Christian couples as a single woman.
One book I read even suggested that my kids would never learn to listen because they won’t have the example of me listening to their father first. Yea, I didn’t finish that one…
I refused to believe that I couldn’t play on the same field as the men–and I knew I didn’t need to partner up with a man to do it.
The more I read, I discovered historical truths about women in the Bible that completely redefined how I saw my place in this world. I was amazed with examples of feminine leadership–like the fiery military strategist Deborah. Or Mary Magdalene, often confused with a prostitute but also called the Apostle to the Apostles. Mary of Magdala may have encountered even more one-on-one teachings from Jesus than even Peter.
When referring to the earliest followers of Jesus, the Gospel writers often speak of two groups of disciples: the Twelve and the Women. The Twelve refer to the twelve Jewish men chosen by Jesus to be his closest companions and first apostles, symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Women refer to an unspecified number of female disciples who also followed Jesus, welcoming him into their homes, financing his ministry, and often teaching the Twelve through their acts of faithfulness and love. Just as Jesus predicted, most of the Twelve abandoned him at his death (John 16:32). But the women remained by his side—through his death, burial, and resurrection.” – Rachel Held Evans
If one thing has become abundantly clear, it’s that throughout history, the rightful role of women has been diminished and corrupted. And in 2015, there are still women who feel like they aren’t enough without a man to lead them.
I don’t know how, but I intend to do something about that. And I’m starting with me. I can and will support my family (sadly without any child support from their father). I can and will raise my children in love and lead them to Christ. I can and will enjoy my life without loneliness.
It is possible for women to participate in their communities, raise their children, contribute to society, and find success simply by finding the strength to stick to it through a posture of submission to Christ–and to be empowered in the process.
If I ever do find a partner, it will be because I truly enjoy that person and have enough love to give him–not because I need him to advance my life or take care of my children, or because of some strange delusion that I need him to get closer to God.
I’d also like to think that this posture could be honored as deeply respectful to men.
Most people seem to have a problem with my stance–even going so far as to question my sexuality. But I’m proud of my faithfulness to myself, to my children, and to Christ. And I just wish more women had the opportunity and courage to feel that way too.