Updated: Feb 18
I have often wondered about the word inclusion. Who is doing the including I wonder?? I am more drawn to 'creating a sense of belonging' and this is what ASNA aims to do through our training and awareness programs. We provide education, awareness and an understanding of the challenges, joys, achievements, barriers and experiences of people living with neurodiversity and physical challenges.
I do believe belonging is one up from inclusion. I would love your thoughts on this.... this week I'd like to think about inclusion and belonging with respect to singleness as it was recently Singleness Awareness Day.
Speaking to a friend this morning, following our early morning 'Journey of Discovery' series, we got talking about singleness with specific reference to the church. I was concerned by her comments and I quote;
“The Church does not know how to deal with separated people or single people because they cause a painful environment : Men think when you speak to them you are looking for another relationship, some women think you are trying to take their men away... so I just go to church and keep my head down. I go with Squaddies because they know me and how much pain I am going through since my separation. I go to church and have my head down.
She went on to say...I go and worship God in spirit and in truth. The church does not make it easy - I love my church but we are not compassionate enough. This is my nemesis. I don’t even know if the church understands my situation. I really believe that some churches have it right when it comes to being compassionate to one another but others don't. Some churches have the truth but not the love!”
Wow - to have the truth but not the love - that was cutting. But so true.
As a young mother with a young lad with severe learning disabilities, this was how I felt - isolated and alone in my situation. The church (some members in the church) were totally oblivious to our situation. Remarks such as “can't you keep your son quiet?” or “wouldn't you be more comfortable at home?” and more crushing statements like “there must be something you did in your life that has caused you to have a son with disabilities. If you pray hard enough and have MORE faith, your son will be healed!”
I can remember these statements as if they were yesterday. Now I remember them with reassurance that there is a significant change in some quarters with respect to education and understanding. Our places of worship are becoming more inclusive yet they still need to become places of belonging.
Inclusion is not a difficult thing to do. It just takes time for you to
1. Be intentional
2. Be sincere
3. Be loving
Is there someone today to whom you can be 'intentionally inclusive' with (within government restrictions of course!). Just thinking... we recently celebrated Valentine's day. Today, let's celebrate singleness. Reach out to someone who may be feeling isolated let them know they are not alone. Include them in your prayers and be close to them Intentionally! It will only happen when you choose to be intentional.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this.
Also please remember ASNA is celebrating 20 years! We have a short impact survey for you to complete www.asna.info/20. It would be good to hear from you.
Oh, and in case you are wondering about the relevance of the picture… Gladioli usually come up in single, upright tower-like spears, beautiful to behold, bold, colourful and unapologetic. Be single, be a Gladioli!! stay connected through your roots and shine - in praise of singleness.