It’s not good to be alone.
This is one of the first things the Bible tells us about being alive: “It’s not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). What was true of Adam in the garden is true of all of us today. And as you enter motherhood, just about soon as you’ve got your baby shower presents unwrapped, it’s echoed everywhere you look: “Motherhood is hard. You need support. Find your Mom Tribe.”
It’s easy to think what we need to survive as mothers is that group of other moms in the trenches. Mommy blogs and parenting sites offer advice about finding that “Mom Tribe,” and you can download apps for meeting mom friends near you. If connecting with other moms in real life is too complicated, you can join Facebook groups or follow Instagram tags of mothers with similar philosophies or life circumstances from the safety of your phone. With these dynamics, the shared experience of motherhood seems like the key to really belonging and understanding each other. This can subtly elevate our role as mothers above our identity as daughters of God.
Now, I know being a mom can be isolating, and mom friends can be wonderful. I spent years waiting for motherhood, working in mind-numbing offices while my friends took their children to storytime and playdates. When I moved and finally had a baby, I quickly befriended other stay-home moms in my new neighborhood. We worshipped together on Sundays and drank coffee together midweek, swapping maternity clothes and babysitting. I left that community just before I had another baby and spent a long time in lonely transition.
When we did finally settle in with a body of believers after our last move, the relationships and social dynamics didn’t look like anything I’d experienced before. By God’s good design, my church community doesn’t meet typical “Mom Tribe” qualifications. It’s full of different races, different jobs, different lifestyles and cultural backgrounds coming together as one body. It’s nothing like I would have expected before, but it does remind me of biblical passages about the church being “one body with diverse parts.”
Every Sunday morning, we join in worship and pray the Lord’s Prayer together, which says “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Truly praying this should change us, transforming our hearts and lives together with a vision of our place in God’s eternal kingdom. The Bible tells us this will be the absolute end of all loneliness: people of every tribe, tongue, and nation worshipping and feasting in perfect communion with the God who dwells with us. I have learned that praying to see God’s kingdom means I need these people who share my identity as a child of God more than just those who are moms like me.
I need Mary, who works full time with her small children in daycare, because I see that the challenges of motherhood are not mine just because I’m staying home. And I need to dig into all the ways her personality is so much like my husband’s (and her husband is so much like me!) that she can support me as mother and a wife.
I need Julie, who is single and doesn’t picture a busy family in her future like I always did, because she brings out so many of my gifts that being a mom doesn’t seem to touch. We vote differently and charitably disagree on many social issues, but she is a faithful believer who challenges me and encourages me to reflect the image of God in all the ways he made me.
I need Katie, who carefully shares about the way her interracial family experiences prejudice in our community and the fears that come with this. Her vulnerability challenges me to honor and defer to people with different experiences, especially where my perspective is in the majority. I am challenged to teach my children to “Be quick to listen and slow to speak,” (James 1:19) and that they can boldly follow the God who “works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6).
I need Jenilyn, who tenderly mothers all the women in our church as our women’s minister, while hoping and praying for a marriage and family of her own. She reminds me that despite very different lives and different unfulfilled desires, we both have the same task: to love the people God has given us and teach them to follow Jesus.
I need my friend who faithfully prays for me, asking every single week how she can set aside the private pain of her long-battled infertility and storm heaven’s gates for me and my family. By her example, I’m encouraged to intentionally pray for my family and the people around me.
These women encourage and challenge me in ways I’d take for granted if my friends looked and lived just like I do. Sometimes we have to get creative about spending time together, but to me, it’s more fun to meet a friend for dessert after the kids are in bed than to try talking over them during the day, and it’s easier to host a single friend for dinner than another young family, too. Even among fellow mothers, I am learning to celebrate the ways other moms love selflessly, proclaim the gospel, and guide the character of their children, even when outsiders might just see different family sizes, race or cultural heritage, financial status, or various educational choices. By watching people live out their faith in so many different ways, I see wider possibilities that God might be preparing my children to follow these godly examples in careers, singleness, large family life, and ministry.
We were made to connect with other people, and with the right perspective, the internet can be a great tool for building relationships. Many of the lonely days during my last move meant the only times I talked to other adults happened in a Facebook group; that’s where an online friend connected in person and invited me to her (now “our”) church. But for all the good connecting with like-minded friends in a perfectly-tailored social media group or preschool pick-up line brings, keep your eyes open to the greater blessings of investing in the real lives of the people around you, too, even the ones who are different from you. I’m certainly glad I did! What I read in my Bible and see in my church offers me a stronger, more vibrant picture of belonging and friendship than a uniform group offers. The loneliness of motherhood is not satisfied by a narrow “Mom Tribe” as much as it is in Christian brothers and sisters in all stages of life. Instead of thinking that we need friends just like us, let’s embrace the reality of our Galatians 3:28 community: “Now there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female,” [and we could add “mother or childless, married or single”] “for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
It’s not good to be alone, but it is good to be with God’s people, all one in Christ Jesus.
Abby Hummel writes about theology and culture during her kids’ naptimes from her home in Missouri. She has a degree in Music and Christian Studies from Hillsdale College and serves her church family at Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship in St. Louis through music and women’s ministry. She runs when it's not too hot and reads as much theology as she can fit in between everything else. You can find other work from her at Christ and Pop Culture and Morning By Morning, and on her blog abbyhummel.com.