I attend a Bible study every week with a wonderful group of women, most of whom attend a nearby church of the same denomination as mine. They have all been married (some are now widowed or divorced), and they all have children (of varying ages). They are all more socially conservative than I am, and more connected to the popular evangelical wing of Christianity, although they're on a spectrum on these things. I've never meshed well with an all-women's group before, and I have some general squeamishness about single-gender groups. When I first started attending it, I really struggled with how I fit into this group and whether the benefits outweighed the frustrations of being there. Nonetheless, there is something deeply honest and supportive and good about this group, and I've come to really value my time with them.
The conversation often revolves around children and husbands, but most of the time, those are just facts about the women, like any other identifying fact. You live with a husband, I live with a dog, you have kids, I have the pub crowd, and we're all just women hanging out.
But once in a while, those simple facts become a chasm. So it went yesterday, when the topic of the study was family relationships, specifically husbands and wives and parents and children (Colossians). And since I'm so adept at managing my feelings of being excluded, I talked a LOT. Even more than usual, which is saying something. In massive generalities and prefacing everything with "Well, I'm not married/I don't have children, but it seems to me..." which emphasized the gap to me and to everyone else, I'm sure. I was aware that I was doing this, and I was aware that I should shut up, but I couldn't seem to stop. Whee-hah.
I am very relieved that next time, we will be talking about friendship.