Posted by: molly | June 24, 2010

Birds of a Feather

A couple days ago I was eating lunch with my sister when I mentioned something about a facebook friend I had from high school.  My sister closed up a little, “um, yeah, we’re not friends.”  I was going to leave it there, thinking it was some sort of a personality clash, but she added “I’m not married, so I’m not ‘cool enough’ to be her friend.”  Thinking back, I did reconnect with certain people only after I added that second ring to my finger.  I guess I’d not really thought about the “married club” to which I have been inducted by default.  Maybe only full membership is extended to those who have only other married friends, but I did have limited membership into a post-wedding exclusive club.

I sympathized with my sister.  I squeaked into the married club with enough of the benefits to not feel marginalized.  I’ve got that part covered.  But I do feel marginalized from the “Mommy club.”  As girls I grew up with start spending their time looking for the best deal, cooking magazine quality meals, and popping out babies, I find myself running to the store on the way home from work and throwing together a (hopefully) healthy alternative to a bachelor style meal.  Between work, school, trying to keep my house from looking like a war zone, and small group members who stay over until 1 in the morning ,(don’t worry guys–I don’t mind) I don’t have the time to pursue the same domestic perfection.

For a while I’ve thought that “one day” my time as a super-hectic, working wife would end as I joined the ranks of domestic divas who always have a clean house, a purse full of coupons, and cutely dressed, well behaved children.  Though I would not mind one day having time to pursue being the best steward of my home and resources, as well as being a godly mother, I’m not sure I ever want join the “Mommy club” if it means losing my ability to relate with people who aren’t in the same stage of life as me.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon extends into the realm of Church as well.  For a while now I’ve wondered about the “life stages” model (i.e. the youth group, college group, young singles group, young married group, people with children ages 1-5 groups etc.) in most churches. One church website I found actually advertised their “life level” classes as a time to “join others just like yourself, and develop lifelong friendships with people who face many of the same challenges that you do.”  I understand the sentiment and  I love spending time with other young married couples but I am afraid we mostly just share our ignorance with one another.  Since I was one of the first of my circle of friends to get married, I suddenly became a marriage counselor with my 2 months of experience.  Sometimes you need someone who has already been there–for a while–to let you know some of the ropes.  But that is so hard when all of you friends are your age. Titus talks about how the older women should be teaching the younger women how to love their husbands  and their children.  It is either forced or absent when the older women hardly know the younger women at all.

Moses and I have talked about wanting to have a multi-generational church.  I would take it a step farther:  we want a multi-generational church that is not generationally segregated.  I have a friend who quit the college class at her church to join the retiree’s class.  It seems radical, but she can benefit more from some of the those people than her “age appropriate” teaching in the other class.  What would it look like if we all did that?  Maybe not join a different Sunday School class, but if someone my age invited a family with teen-agers to dinner.  Or what if I got to know some seniors by joining a knitting club?  A bit radical?  Perhaps.  But maybe sometimes being a bit radical is a great way to start new things.

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Responses

  1. Honey, thanks for sharing. Good thoughts.

  2. AMEN!!!! So, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this lately since I’m about to join this so called “Mommy Club” and have actually even gotten formal invitations to do so. People that never talked to me before are now bombarding my facebook and email account with tips, congrats, and small talk. At first I was thrilled to reconnect, and I still am, but the more I think about it, the more it makes me sad . . . and a little scared to be honest. I feel like we’re not connecting on the foundation of the gospel but because I’m a belly bulging pregnant newlywed. It also scares me because people that are not married or not parents are beginning to eject me from their comfortable circles. I don’t want to leave my friends behind because of entering into a new phase of life or lose friends because they assume I’ve outgrown them.

  3. I would LOVE it if you two would consider visiting the church plant I am working with in Denver. We will be two years old in the fall and while we have a long way to go in achieving the diversity that we desire (economically, racially and in age groups as well) I am learning so much from the different groups of people who are a part of my local body. Seriously. You should visit. :o)

  4. Molly, this is SO well said and well written! I totally agree with you. I think much of the segregation that you refer to happens in larger churches, because they need to have a way to organize their masses. The church we attended when we first got married was a small church of maybe 100 people on a good day (like dinner on the grounds!). Our Sunday School class was for young couples….that pretty much included anybody who wasn’t a senior citizen yet, and I think we may have even had one or two of those in the class. 🙂 It was nice to have the input of people who had been married for 20+ years.

  5. One thing that has distressed me about our ladies’ group is that the younger women come once or twice, see mostly middle-aged ladies, and never come back. I had hoped that would be the place we could congregate and mix. I have never felt this disparity of the younger women for the older until this church.

    One church we attended for fourteen years had Sunday School classes by topic rather than age group. I loved that — there was a good mix of ages.

    OTOH, sometimes a person isn’t excluded from a group, but rather they pull away. A single person thinks her newly-married friend doesn’t want to be with her any more just because she has new friends and interests and obligations; a childless person feels “left out” when her friends are expecting, and then she pulls away. We need to get over ourselves and reach out to people no matter what age or stage they or we are in. If we all did that, there wouldn’t be these perceived separate little groups.

  6. Thanks for sharing this! I go to a small church where the generations can´t segregate, and I see what a good thing this is.

    Just so you know, I´ve never felt that you have “joined the married club” or in any way made us feel excluded 🙂


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