A few years into our marriage my husband and I unexpectedly had the opportunity to rent a beautiful home. We were expecting our second child and knew our stay in our tiny townhome was coming to a close, but never did we dream such a wonderful home would become available so soon. However, even with the incredible rate we were offered, we knew we couldn’t afford it on our own. We’d caught wind of several single ladies we knew from a nearby Bible school looking for a place to rent in the area, so we reached out to them to see if they’d be interested in living in the lower level of the house. Every door flew wide open, and before we knew it we were packing up our belongings and preparing to move into a lovely home along with three other ladies.
I remember walking around our new home shortly before they moved in, feeling grateful but nervous. As a new mom I already felt like my flaws and foibles were on full display to the general public, and I knew it would be that much more vulnerable sharing a home with women I (at that point) hardly knew. But as I walked around the house praying, I sensed that the Lord had something in store for this new season that I couldn’t quite anticipate.
I could never have guessed just how wonderful it would be. What began as a practical step of faith turned into one of the greatest blessings in my life.
In the past eight years we’ve had the joy of sharing our home with seventeen different ladies as they’ve come and gone through marriage or change of direction. Many of these women have become some of my dearest friends as we’ve walked life-on-life through mountains and valleys.
One woman (who holds the record of five and a half years in our home) once told me that when she thought of how the Lord had brought her into our home, the beginning of Psalm 68:6 came to mind: “God sets the solitary in families” (NKJV).
This verse isn’t always thought of so literally, but it most certainly rings true in our situation. Many of these women have been far away from family or have come from difficult home situations, so they’ve needed family-like support in a unique way. As we’ve been able to provide a family structure for them, they’ve provided unique support and encouragement for me as a young mother: popping up for conversations on lonely days, playing with my kiddos, or even being available to step in to help in emergencies, just to name a few.
Through the time I’ve spent with these precious ladies, I’ve had an increasing burden for married women to come alongside our single sisters in Christ, loving them and inviting them into our lives in whatever way God calls us to. In essence, we need to consider how to practice all the “one another” passages in Scripture with these dear ladies. It probably won’t look like having seventeen women living in your home as it has for us. But it starts with saying, “Lord, how would you have me love the single ladies in my life today?”
I recently asked several of the ladies who have lived with us what gestures of love from married women meant the most for them during their single years. Here are a few of the things they shared.
Welcomed into Daily Life
Many of the single women living with us have been preparing for marriage (or hoping for it one day), and they’ve expressed that being invited into the normal parts of family life has been a blessing to them. We’ve chatted together over baskets of laundry, laughed in the middle of dinner prep, and cried in the midst of a topsy-turvy living room. I’m naturally someone who struggles with allowing others to see the ways I fall short in my housekeeping skills (and feel tempted to offer a million explanations for why our kiddo-filled home isn’t always in order), but I’ve received so many comments from these ladies that they feel honored to be welcomed into our space regardless of how it looks. It’s been incredibly life-giving to me as God has used this to help free me from seeking outward perfection and instead love at every opportunity He gives.
That’s not to say there aren’t times to tidy up, light a candle, and pull out the fancy napkins before a get-together—both have a place. It’s good for single women to see a holistic view of wifehood and motherhood and to be invited into the beautiful as well as the messy.
If a single gal expresses a desire for time with you, consider welcoming her into your home rather than just going out for coffee. If you’re a young mom like me, consider asking if she can come over during nap time. Ask the Lord to help you know how best to welcome her in a way that will truly be life-giving for both of you.
We need to remember that the “one anothers” in Scripture often happen in the midst of daily life, not just at church on Sunday morning. We should consider how we can encourage and build up (1 Thess. 5:11), love (Rom. 12:10), confess sin (James 5:16), and speak truth (Eph. 4:25) to our single sisters whom God has placed in our church or community.
Included in Celebrations
I’ve had many conversations with my single friends about the conundrum of holidays or other celebrations when they aren’t traveling to be with family. It may feel awkward for them to ask to spend celebratory days with others, yet most don’t want to be alone. This is where we can have our radar up for those who need a place to spend celebrations.
We’ve sought to include ladies in celebrations big and small—from Christmas and Thanksgiving to lesser holidays, birthdays, and even game nights. Often when we’re hosting a gathering, they’ve asked if they can include a friend who doesn’t have a place to be. For the last several Valentine’s Days my children and I have baked heart-shaped cookies together and given them (along with a little flower) to the ladies in our home.
This will look different for every family. You might not be able to invite others into your home for a celebration for some reason. But it might mean stopping to pray that the Lord will provide a place for them to celebrate. It might mean connecting them with someone who is opening their home for a holiday. It might mean simply sending a card or text letting them know you’re thinking about them. Whatever it is, you can be sure God will direct you toward how He desires you to extend His love to the single women around you.
Value Their Input
One of the greatest treasures of having ladies live with us is the mutual encouragement that we’ve received from one another. Sometimes we subconsciously believe that, as married women, we are the ones who will be doing all the pouring out. But there are so many wise, godly, mature single women who have much to contribute to the building up of the Body. And this has certainly been the case with the women who’ve lived with us.
A few have come in with significant experience with children, and I’ve asked their advice on multiple occasions when I’ve needed input on helpful resources, learning styles, or training ideas. We’ve had conversations late into the night over spiritual topics I’m wrestling with, and I’ve gleaned from the wisdom God has given them through His Word. I’ve learned about decorating and organization, recipes, and all manner of things that have enriched my life and home.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12–31 we read a beautiful description of how we in the Body of Christ should view each other as equally valuable and important with our particular God-given giftings. This includes those among us who are unmarried. We should be actively encouraging them and seeking them out.
An Eternal Family
Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This still holds true today. The way Christian women interact with one another should reflect the reality that we love and follow Jesus, including the way we interact with others in varying stages of life. When single and married women love one another for the glory of God—spurring one another on in whatever He’s called us to do—it displays how we are knit together through Christ in a way that cannot be manufactured through any other means. It doesn’t matter how different our circumstances are; the only common ground we need is Jesus. What a privilege to be a part of His eternal family, together for eternity, and to seek to reflect that reality here and now.
January is almost over . . . is there still a blank spot on your wall where a calendar should be? There’s still time to order your copy of the Revive Our Hearts 2023 Ministry Calendar featuring photographs and encouragement from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth! The beautiful images and Bible verses included on each page will fill your heart with courage and comfort as you’re reminded that God is in control every day of the year.
This post used by permission of Revive Our Hearts. To read more Christ honoring content like this please visit ReviveOurHearts.com.