Monday, March 21, 2011

I Don't Need a Man!

My grandmother died on February 15, 2011. She was 91 years old. Our family had been preparing for this day since July 2010, when she first fell ill, and it was around that time I began to reflect upon her life. I thought about specific memories I have of her from my childhood. I also thought about little things I'd categorize as "Grandma Trivia." (For instance, she worked for many years as a seamstress in a factory.) But it wasn't until the actual funeral that I began to dwell on the manner in which my grandmother expressed her femininity, especially since she played the role of a single mom for 60 years.

My grandfather left the family when my dad was three years old (1951). We always had contact with him, and he had a presence in our lives until his death in 2001, but he did not really have any type of real commitment to the family that required any responsibility. It was my grandmother who worked, raised three boys, cooked for her family and cleaned the home all by herself. She didn't need a man's help. She didn't need a man at all!

My grandmother worked hard, but she also played hard. I remember around 1982 or 1983, she took a trip to Switzerland by herself. She belonged to several clubs, had tons of friends, played bingo, and went to senior citizen dances. She lived by herself. As I began to review her life as a single woman, I began to think that maybe the single life really is pretty amazing. When I considered the fact that my Grandmother was single for most of her life, I began to strategize how I could do the same: "Do I really need a man? Grandma didn't. And as a Christian, I know that I already have everything I need. So I suppose I don't need a man. I don't need a man to be happy, I don't need a man to survive, and I don't need a man to define my femininity. I'm single, and I'm doing all right!"

My cousin Joe, a Christian, delivered a very brief speech at the funeral home. With tears in his eyes, he said, "When my mom died, Grandma did everything for us. EVERYTHING." It was true. Joe's mother passed away when he was only 16, and there was Grandma who stepped right in and became a surrogate mother to him and his siblings. She remained in that role for 15 years, again, without a husband. She honestly and truly did not need a man!

But as Joe continued his speech, something became very clear to me. As I listened to him talk about how Grandma cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, and basically kept that house together after his mother died, it was evident that Grandma did not need Joe, but Joe needed her.

More than ever, I realized the importance in of women in the lives of men. The Bible tells us that we were created for them! As a single woman, it can be easy to forget that, not only because we are so independent, but because this is what we often tell ourselves when we are trying to remain content with our singleness. In many cases, we're right. Technically, we don't need a man. In Christ, we have all we need. But as Christians, we should be equally aware of others' needs, not just our own.

Here's a thought to encourage you. 1 Peter 3:7 describes women as "the weaker sex." Many times, passages like this are misunderstood to mean that men are somehow superior to women, but let me challenge that idea with this question: what do you think this says about men, considering that women were created to be their helpers? Think of the incredible honor it is, knowing that someone "stronger" than you is actually depending upon you for help!

Strong people are not necessarily independent, but interdependent. Strong people are not strong because they can do everything alone. Strong people are strong because others lean on them for help. This is the privilege that women have as helpers to men. Consider Jesus, the strongest Person of all, who did not remain independent of humanity, but carried the weight of the world's sin on His shoulders. Now that's real strength!

Married or single, when was the last time you said to yourself, "I don't need a man"? What was the situation? What was the condition of your heart? I ask this not to imply that your attitude was poor. Perhaps you're right. Perhaps you don't need a man after all . . . but maybe, just maybe, there is a man out there who desperately needs you.

3 comments:

Betsy Markman said...

My pastor shed a wonderful light on that "weaker vessel" verse. He said that women deserve honor from men because we, as equals, CHOOSE to accept the submissive role in marriage. He said that that's an immensely courageous thing for a woman to do, and she ought to be honored for it every day. I like that!

Jennifer said...

Thank you Betsy. As usual your contributions add so much to mine. I thank God for you!

Anonymous said...

Excellent Jennifer--as usual.

Great insight!

Tish