This past week, I saw on Facebook a picture put up by my friend, with another friend in it.
It was a picture of the 2 of them, including about 6 other friends - all of them had gone to high school together.
I so loved seeing a group of girls that are now in their mid 20's that stay in contact & keep up with each other's lives. That alone is such a blessing.
But what made the picture even more special - they all had a baby in their arms. One of them actually had 2 babies in her arms.
I saw that picture & just smiled. The cuteness of all those babies together. The precious relationships these girls have with each other. The way they'll continue to do life together in this season of being a new mom. It's just all so sugary sweet.
... & then the longer I looked at it, a little twinge in my heart ached.
Mainly because I know there is probably someone missing from that picture.
Maybe a friend that also hung out with them in high school, but as an adult, maybe in a different stage of life.
Maybe she's single.
Maybe she doesn't have a baby.
Maybe she's not even sure where her next paycheck is coming from.
.. or not even sure what direction she wants her life to go in.
Not that she was excluded by any means, but she just doesn't feel like she fits in this group anymore.
It's funny because there for some strange reason seems to be this 'timeline' that people expect women to follow. & while I do love that you hear more & more women going against the grain of that time line (girl power!!!) I sadly think society judges a little if you don't fall into this chart of things that must mysteriously exist somewhere.
I mean, look at the whole magazine hunt that is constantly on Jennifer Aniston about rumors of her being pregnant. It's because for some stupid reason, the world feels like she's an attractive, successful person - she MUST have a baby to make her life complete.
She told Allure: "I don't like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women – that you've failed yourself as a female because you haven't procreated. I don't think it's fair. You may not have a child… but that doesn't mean you aren't mothering – dogs, friends' children." Jennifer added: "This continually is said about me: that I was so career-driven and focused on myself; that I don't want to be a mother, and how selfish is that."
I remember getting out of high school & I luckily found the love of my life when I was 20 years old. Fairly young. I didn't think I was young then. I got married at 23 & when I see people at 23 years old getting married now, I think, "You're just a baby"... funny how time distorts how you see age. I felt so grown up then.
... but babies never came for us.
At least not babies that made it full term.
Its not something I ever talk about. Mainly because I just don't. I dont find any joy in talking about it so why do it?
What I do know is it did make me feel like it has put me on the outside of many groups of women.
& its not even because anyone MAKES me feel that way.
it's just an inner thing inside that makes you feel different. An outsider.
I think culture just has a way of weaving in like that sometimes.
And let's just hold up... turn the brakes on this because this didn't mean to take a turn into a sad pity party in any way.
...what I thought about was that young girl that might have seen that FB picture of those moms & their babies & thought that they didn't fit. & yes, while I felt a little heavyhearted for a moment, I immediately thought of how much I wanted to encourage those same young ladies.
Through my own life of experience, I have seen a little of how this works...
Mainly that you are on your own road.... There are so many different paths. & it's not always going to fit into the life of 2.5 kids by the age of 28 & a perfect husband that does it all ... oh yeah, & a dog named Max.
It may be you are running your own company, or you actually prefer to be single or you just haven't found that person that God is leading you to, or you know your heart isn't pulled to be a parent now if ever, or you're traveling the world... so many directions you can take in life.
The cool thing about whatever your life does looks like right now? God can use you.
Wherever you are at. Whichever path you are on.
That is so reassuring to me. Mainly because I feel like I've lived it. I've seen how it works.
I truly feel like God has used me in ways that I know He couldn't have used other women.
As I've seen God use other women in situations & ways that I know I could never have stepped in & filled.
God needs me on this path I've been on.
God needs you too sweet sisters!
Wherever you are at.
Every single one of us - all in our unique places.
He needs us to be kind to each other. To reach out to others. To love on His children. To lift one another up.
You can be the face & hands of Jesus wherever you are at - to someone who desperately needs it.
I also find it funny how now, when I'm in my Bible Study group, I look around & see so many different stories. Lots of young moms. There's some grandmas in there. There's young single ladies. There's divorce. There's many years of marriage. There's career oriented women. There are women who just want to stay at home. ... but what happens when we talk? We all share our experiences because there's SOMETHING SOMEONE can always connect with.
I love this picture because I think its just as precious as the picture I first saw on Facebook of the young mom's with the babies. That first picture represented to me marriages, family, friendship.
But this picture does too. In its own unique way.
I just feel like we get out of high school & out of college & we have such expectations of what our lives are going to be. We see it happen in our friends lives. & it can be discouraging when our own lives don't turn out like that.
Take heart! In the end, no one's lives turn out the way they expect. Years pass & everything changes. Friendships will alter. Expectations will shift.
I just want to pass on encouragement today. I'm not even sure what really prompted this whole thing today. Maybe one person out there needed to hear this today. I pray so.
Stay YOUR course. Keep your relationship with God first priority. He will be the one who will go down the path you are on ALWAYS. Through every phase, through every year, through every event. God wants to use you wherever you are at on that path. Be open to that. Be joyful about that. Don't loose heart.
You do fit in somewhere. God's going to make sure of that!