Written by the COGBF Women's Ministry Staff: March 22, 2015
This blog was created specifically to address the distinct issues facing single women. Topics regarding relationships, loneliness, single parenting and many others will be discussed. Each post is original from committed ByFaith members to hopefully add instruction and support to every reader.
And although this demographic makes up the majority of many congregations, we believe that this area of ministry is woefully underserved. It is within that spirit we invite you in.
Please select a topic from the top right and enjoy.
The Meaning of Love
Written by Minister Dominique Brunson; NE NY District: August 17, 2015
“The Price of Being a Woman: A Look at Self-Care and Ways to Avoid Burnout
Written by Michelle Fletcher, Northwestern New York District: May 22, 2015
It’s no secret that women are not strangers to hard work. In many arenas, we are the world’s adhesive. Hand-made by God, we are warm nurturing creatures that cultivate life into its greatest potential. But, with that rewarding purpose is an equally demanding responsibility - not just to the people and institutions to which we are obligated, but more importantly, to ourselves. We often overlooked ourselves which leaves us deprived of the very care and attention we freely give to others.
According to a Forbes article, “a growing number of young women who seem to “have it all” are burning out at work before they reach 30.” This is primarily attributed to the fact that women are more likely to sacrifice self-care for what may appear to be a long-term gain and secondly, men are more likely to engage in activities that help their personal wellbeing such as exercise, thus negating burnout. As a result of these unhealthy choices, there is an increasing trend of women experiencing “physical shutdown.”
One millennial described this experience as an inability to balance all of her responsibilities and a lack of self-care causing her to faint and become excessively fatigued. While there was no alarming medical condition, doctors recommended a healthy dosage of rest, lots of water and a regular exercise regimen for starters. Essentially, making healthier lifestyle choices versus goal-oriented health kicks are more rewarding. For example, getting in shape for the biggest of the social event of the summer may shed a couple of pounds but will soon be forgotten once the goal is met.
The most important tip to remember is that self-care is an intentional lifestyle. No millennial woman, with all of her responsibilities and goals, just happens to have a spare hour to go to the gym or even a few extra dollars to buy organic foods. These are decisions that must be planned into your daily schedule and budget in order to avoid burnout. With the proper amount rest, water, exercise, a balanced diet and intimacy with the Father, you will find that you are physically equipped to take on those frequent 16-hour days, which often seem unbearable.
While this is certainly easier said than done, we must consider the physical demand we put on our bodies. We want to perform on our jobs, have energy to enjoy our family, engage in weekly worship, work on long-term projects and complete all of the other necessary tasks. We have to drive to and from our various destinations, pick up groceries and help with homework all in one day and do all of them well. Yet, we suffer from malnourishment, an inadequate amount of rest and dehydration which will either negatively affect our attitudes and hence our performance, or when in extreme deprivation, result in a burnout which can even lead to hospitalization.
As the nucleus of our homes, churches and so many other places that we visit, it is essential that we have the energy and strength to fulfill our obligations. If we believe God has entrusted us to care for humanity, whether it be children, spouses, friends, mentees or a congregation, how much more should we care for ourselves so that we are coherent enough to hear God concerning those he has entrusted us with. Since God communes with us, we must be mindful to keep an environment that is conducive for His presence such as stillness, agility, peace and discernment; all attributes that can be negatively affected if a woman chooses to not participate in self-care. One thing’s for sure, a cranky woman whose tired and depleted is unable to do her best at the tasks God has given her goal.
Self-care is not a guilty pleasure nor is it an excuse to indulge in vanity but rather, it is a necessity that sustains a woman’s individual wellness so that she can enrich the lives of others.
Loneliness: A Fascination with the Destination Instead of the Journey
Written by: Michelle Fletcher, Northwestern New York District May 22, 2015
For decades, songwriters have asked, “Who saves the hero after she saves the world?” And while this may be a catchy lyric you inadvertently hum while completing your daily tasks, it is arguably the plight of the woman.
Perhaps the answer is God. Every woman rests on the everlasting arms of the Father who is always there to comfort, shield and commune with us after we are exhausted by our families, careers and ministries. However, loneliness is often an unwelcomed guest at many of our parties for one.
After careful consideration of my own encounters with loneliness, I discovered that I was lonely because I did not participate in life. As a 25-year woman trying to establish myself, determine my political affiliation, join enough associations to expand my professional network, aspirations of marriage and children, a ministry for administrators to cultivate and enrich the church experience, desires to be a trail-blazer and ceiling breaker, there are few opportunities left to truly engage in an experience for the moment. The extensive list of goals I mentioned require a strategy that often occupies much of my time with people and places that I will appreciate down the line; a means to an end but certainly not the highlight of my day. Furthermore, those goals make me a productive member of society but, do they mean I’m living?
I believe the answer to that is no. And frankly, I am not alone. Many of us are participating in citizenship but not in life. Making sacrifices to establish your future is commendable but you can enjoy the journey. When every experience is about a future accomplishment, it often limits an opportunity to be in community with others and can create or exaggerate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Making the decision to enjoy the process on your way to a destination can be a fulfilling experience in which you encounter like-minded or perverse people to learn from.
I am reminded of the passage of Martha and Mary in the book of Luke. I would imagine in that crowded home, Martha was lonely surrounded by those who saw her as a host and others who worked with her to complete the task of preparing for her guests. She became so engulfed with what she was trying to achieve that she did not even recognize, as her sister Mary did, the opportunity to commune with Jesus. We can either be so caught up in getting things done like Martha or we can be like Mary who chose the good part and enjoyed the journey. Mary knew there was work to be done but she took the time to sit at the Father’s feet and enjoy the moment. If Mary found the ability to enjoy the journey, so can we.
An Honest Talk About Being Single
Written by Michelle Fletcher: NW New York District: April 20, 2015
It’s no secret that most of our pews are filled with single black women every Sunday. Studies over the last decade show that single women represent over half of most black congregations.
Nevertheless, singleness is not a sentence; it is a choice. Perhaps this is not the most favorable, but a choice nonetheless. There are available men but they just aren’t the ones that attract your attention and that is alright. What is more important is that a woman’s time of singularity is not wasted pining away for God to send them mate, but seeking His will for their life.
All too often, a woman’s singleness is the scarlet letter that seems to inhibit her ability to feel accomplished or as successful as a married woman. We must first establish the fact that whether you are married or single has no correlation to a woman’s ability to impact God’s kingdom. There is purpose for every woman’s life and each one must give an account to her Father whether she is married or not.
Yes, it’s true that companionship is a strong desire for many women. And in our context, it is ideal to want to stand alongside a God fearing husband and raise beautiful children but, that seems to be more ideal than realistic these days. The reasons why are uncertain and quite honestly, an alarming issue that is not only affecting saved single black women but single black women at large.
Perhaps it is time to take a deeper look at what God desires for our lives. How effective can we be for God if we spend so much of our time searching for a mate?
Here’s the truth -- there is no formula, there are no secrets and furthermore, we may never know when, who or if we will ever be married. But if we are looking to attract another believer, it will be through whole-heartedly chasing God’s desire to use us as instruments for His glory. That is the most attractive quality that any person can possess and if we are looking to attract saved men, that is a great way to start!
Singles: P.H.A.S.E. Vow
Written by Minister Dominique Brunson; Northeastern NY District April 07, 2015
But he "says" he's a Christian
Written by Danielle D. Wallace, Alabama - April 4, 2015
I've heard it quite a few times from other girls, "But he said, he's a Christian." And I immediately want them to stop and think about the definition of not only a Christian man but a Christian in general. Because, let’s be real, there are many that don't understand the definition of being a true Christian. To some of us, it’s sitting in the pews every Sunday morning or to others, it may be dusting off your bibles every now in then when you're in trouble or when you're blessed with something amazing in your life.
My point is, it is not consistent.
So before we go any further, this isn't all about recognizing a wolf in sheep's clothing when it comes to a guy that approaches you. It’s also about "you" ladies. Are you also examining yourselves? Are you what you say you desire?
A man that says he's a Christian but doesn't embody the following below is only whispering what you want to hear. Trust me; I had to learn that the hard way.
Topping the list, he must be a man of prayer. Someone that is led by the spirit and not the flesh. Yes, I know anyone can say "I pray" but does he truly surrender all to God in all areas of his life?
And speaking of being led by the flesh, he must be a man who shows you respect, to protect your sexual purity. Ladies, there is nothing loving about a man who is always lusting after your body or trying to take something that is so sacred and meant for marriage. If you've stated your celibacy is a part of life until marriage and he completely ignores it, he's not for you. I repeat; he's not for you. Along with protecting you in that aspect, a true Christian man would never raise his hand at you. He's a protector. He loves you as Christ loved the church. Sadly many don't know this love. If you're wondering what true love is...
GOD IS LOVE
He must be a man of leadership. A man led by God is a true leader of his life and eventually will become an incredible leader for his home. The only leading a "worldly man" does is leading you on to something that will never happen or leading you into temptation. For more regarding this, I encourage to read my previous article "Courting vs Dating: Why I Don't Believe in Dating" here.
He must also be a man of vision. He sees possibilities in his future. He has goals. He's ambitious. With him, anything is possible that pleases God.
Trustworthiness - A true man of God can be trusted. He's not a liar. He's not hiding anything from you. Which leads me to communication. If there are no open lines of communication when something goes wrong, that's another red flag. Yes, I know men and women are different but communication is key when building relationships. Just as your relationship with the Lord requires communication to grow and flourish, so does your earthly courtship.
I've always been taught from my parents to be equally yoked and yes just like many of you, I strayed off from the path. But what I've learned, is if I don't have a sense of peace about someone, then it’s not for me. If my spirit discerns something that isn't of God, It’s not for me. For more reading on true love God's way, I encourage you to read my article, “Love is here.”
And remember ladies, if you desire an "Ephesians: 5" man, you are to first examine yourselves.
The 10 Essential Principles of Christian Dating
Written by the COGBF Women's Ministry Staff: March 24, 2015
One of the great myths of our times is that the Bible doesn’t teach us how to date! Oh, I cannot express just how incorrect that is. In fact, we have an entire dating, courtship and marriage outline in the book of Ruth. Recall that Ruth was the young widow who famously said in Ruth 1:16:
“ Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:”
We hear this beautiful passage at weddings all the time but Ruth was actually speaking with her mother-in-law. After the passing of her husband, Ruth solely focused on supporting Naomi and herself while living a wholesome life. Ruth’s values were evident in the passage above and it did not go unnoticed by Boaz as articulated in Ruth 2: 8-11:
8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”
11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12
Ruth was found!
Consider this, Ruth was a servant—a common laborer in a field full of women. (Sounds like our Christian dating scene today but I digress.) We know that while Ruth was physically dirty, the essence of her beautiful spirit was so present that the most available man in the region took notice.
Only after the urging of solid counsel from Naomi, did Ruth unleash the sweet nectar of her natural beauty which took her state of “being found” to a whole other level. Ruth 3:1-3
“One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for. 2 Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.”
This passage is so crucial because we seem to have the whole dating process backwards. It is sad that so many women allow a man’s looks to drive them into a making bad relationship decisions. Additionally, some of the so-called “boring” prospects women overlooked might make actually their Boaz. Going forward, these 10 essential scriptural principles should guide the dating process:
1. Don’t waste time trying to repair broken men. You don’t need to be a social-worker in your own relationship. Scriptural Support: 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
2. Don’t compromise your standards. Scriptural Support: 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
3. Don’t allow the early but fleeting infatuations to cloud your vision. Scriptural support: Proverbs 19:2 “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.”
4. Don’t be shallow. Scriptural Support: Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
5. The Lord’s “got you!” Scriptural Support: Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
6. Being young doesn’t give you a license to make bad decisions. Scriptural support: 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
7. Seek advice from a seasoned member of your family or church and find a strong accountability partner. Scriptural Support: Proverbs 15:22 “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”.
8. No sex. No petting. No fooling around. Scriptural Support: Ephesians 5:3 “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
9. A solid relationship with God is your best relationship strategy. Scriptural Support: Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. “
10. Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time.” The bad characteristics of men can be hidden but so long. Traits such as: ungodliness, substance abuse, jealousy, anger, violence, infidelity and laziness will raise their ugly heads over time. Scriptural support: Proverbs 27:12 “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. “
Be thoughtful, prayerful and wise and God will give you the desires of your heart.