About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her at @anniefdowns.

Recent Posts

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Thanks for this post! I’m 28 years old, unmarried, no kids, and sometimes I feel like I have to explain myself for hanging out online in what are mostly mommy-blogger circles. The thing is, these ladies are often the ones who are my age and up until recently have shared my life experience. As more and more of my friends get married and start families, my circle of single peers is turning into a circle of mostly mommies. Sometimes I have to remind myself that just because we have different circumstances in life right now doesn’t mean we aren’t still peers. I might have to remind myself that I’m welcome, but I do know that when it comes down to it, the married-but-no-kids, the single-and-waiting-for-Mr-Right, the two-kids-in-diapers, and the divorced-and-picking-up-the-pieces ladies are all part of a bigger group, and I don’t want to let the smaller subgroups distract me from the bigger picture of friendship and community.

  2. Annie,
    As I have gone through life and my “labels” have changed…there is still one constant – we are all sisters-in-Christ. In being so, we are called by God to roll out the welcome mat and invite our sisters to pull up a chair and sit a spell. While appreciating out different perspectives, I am always reminded of the big picture – our Savior in common. Thanks for a great reminder…looking forward to (in)RL!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  3. I love this. I’m 40 and work full-time. I’m married with two kids and a dog. I love that there’s a place for everybody here. We learn so much more when we engage with those who are different from us. We think more critically, we stereotype less, we love more when we understand how much we NEED those who are different from us. It’s not as comfortable, but it’s so very worth it. Thanks so much for this post.

    • I love what you wrote here, Christan … also, like you, I’m 40, married, work full-time and have two kids … and we used to have a dog.

  4. Annie, this is SO good! May we all have our eyes opened to the women around us….no matter the chapter or season they are living!

  5. This is perfect. You’re awesome! Thank you. We totally experienced this last year at our meetup.. I has an older lady email me feeling uncomfortable because she wasn’t a young mom like the majority of ladies coming. I told her please come, i’m younger and more single than most and you coming will help me! Just being able to reach out and help someone else feel welcome actually helped me a lot.

  6. Many changes to my life. Here I am at 52 and have anxiety about joining another online adventure. I am seeking a church home but have yet found where I am called to serve. I came across the (in)courage site several years ago when my thoughts of me were not so favorable, I was dealing with many life changes and feeling quite alone. Devotions have stirred me and kept me a follower till now. I will sit in the chair with you ladies. Hopefully my schedule and commitments will not distract me from sitting with you all at the feet of Jesus.

  7. I am married & would love to join. I can say I believe is looking for His bride to rise up and stand strong before Him. Praying & believing for one another. We need the friendship that is not so easy in these times because life & technology has helped some things but it is also caused us to be less social.
    We need a safe place.

  8. Great welcoming post Annie. I love that quote “Because they invited me, I am welcome here.” That can tackle some insecurities. I will remember that one. I love you felt so welcome amidst all the married women.

  9. Thanks for the invite. As a 53 yr old widow whose youngest “baby” is 21, I often feel that I do not fit here. The prototype seems to be 27, married, with 2 children and blogging. I do not fit any of that! So, I hope that this “works” to get all types of us around the table. Thanks.

    • Oh Liz … you fit! You definitely fit. Your story is needed and cherished. The (in)RL community is big and diverse and the more stories that are voiced, the more beautiful … the stronger this community becomes. I sure hope you attend a meet up this year and if you do, we’d love to hear your story.

    • LIz,

      We need you now more than ever! You have wisdom and ideas to share! I am 48 married with no children and do not blog. I still feel that I fit in and have ideas and wisdom to bestow and things to learn from people.

      You might meet some nice people at In(RL). Might make some good lasting friendships.

  10. I love the idea of realizing you are accepted because you were invited. Sometimes I forget to realize I have permission because I’m invited. Thank you!

  11. Well said, Annie.

    I love the (in)courage community because everyone is welcome. I find that by sharing time with women of all ages and in various situations in life helps me grow. One of my closest friends is ten years my junior and single … another dear friend is 25-years-older than me an widowed. It doesn’t matter. What matters is their stories … their lives … and how those stories and lives are purposed to bring glory to the Savior.

    If anyone is reading this is yearning to give (in)RL a try, but still a little hesitant, I encourage you to take that first step and sign up, you will feel loved and welcome. And if you’re in Northern VA, there are several spots left in my group. I’d love to meet you and I can promise, you will feel accepted. http://www.meetup.com/incouragemeetups/Northern-Virginia-DC-Metro-Area/

  12. I am so looking forward to my (in)RL meeting this year. Last year I was all set to go. I had just gotten out of the hospital and on my way to a dr appointment I crashed my car so I never got there. I never stopped to wonder who the other women will be – will they be married? or older? or younger? Since I moved to Delaware and my kids are older so it’s not like the last time I moved and I was able to make friends through the mommies at school. My friends today are the older ladies from church and the much much younger ones that are in the teen Sunday School class that I teach. Age or marital status has nothing to do with it…after all, when we get to heaven no one will be married and we will all be ageless. So if we are truly already living in His Kingdom we already all fit in.

  13. Thank you for writing this! I hate the recent stigma that married people and single people can’t be friends. I feel like that is so untrue. We have so much to share with each other. Being married/having kids is just one small part of who you are as a person. As a single person I go everywhere alone…otherwise I sulk at home (that is no fun trust me). Last year I went to inRL not really knowing what it was…alone…where I knew no one. I had a blast! Everyone told me I was brave…yeah but it’s just what I do!

  14. I was settling into my singleness, until yesterday after my best friend’s wedding shower. I threw myself a nice little pity party on the way home. “Now, I’m the last single in our group”. Thank you for reminding me I still have a place- that my story still matters and that my story is no less signicifant than my married friends. I feel better now.

  15. For years I envied the married group. I wanted what they had & it felt awkward at gatherings. Mostly I stayed at home alone or with my parents. Now that I have what they have–a wonderful hubby who loves me–I find yet another issue. I have no children and do not understand all the piles of laundry, etc. But I come and sit at the table and talk with them. I feel invited and welcomed. I know we are all sisters in Christ and everyone has their own problems and needs someone to listen to them!

    Blessings 🙂

  16. It sounds good in theory, Annie, but if you look around the (in)courage site, it would suggest otherwise. Look at the number of articles about singleness compared to the number about marriage and children–and that’s not including the articles about something such as forgiveness where the only examples, the only stories the reader is given to relate to, are about a husband and children. This marginalizes not only the single woman, but the married woman without children, the empty nester, and the widow, among others. If you don’t fit a small demographic here, you don’t really belong.

    That’s why I won’t be going to (in)RL. I fear it will be just like the churches I tried to attend, the Bible studies I faithfully went to where no one talked to me–once you get past “Do you have kids? No? Well, you’re married, right? No?” there is nothing left for anyone to say. Close to 50% of the adult population is single, and the church (and (in)courage) don’t seen to notice or care.

    • Jennifer, I hear your heart.

      Your ending paragraph about Bible studies? I distinctly remember about 10 years ago being in the first small group of a women’s Bible study. I was last to introduce myself and I was speechless. Every single woman, every single woman before me said something about their husband and kids and schooling. What was I to say?

      What I wanted to say was, “I want to know YOU. I’m so glad you have a husband and kids and that you homeschool but I know that we all as Christian women have so much more in common than husbands and kids. I want to know YOU!” I left that day a little down and bumped in to another small group leader. She saw me and asked about my group. I told the story and she somehow moved me in to her group the next week. It was like a breath of fresh air. She facilitated in a way where each woman was valued as who she is and not who she is to others. When taking prayer requests, they had to be about that woman (you know the “pray for aunt sally…” We are sad for Aunt Sally but how may we pray for YOU in this situation?).

      Anyway, I want to give you hope. Well, your only hope can come from the Lord, but some practical hope from one who understands here on earth. Don’t give up! Groups where you aren’t defined by your “stage of life” do exist. We as women who love Jesus have a lot in common and need to come together to grow and refine and love and just be.

      I attended an (in)courage group last year and I think I was one of two single women. The focus of the day is on Jesus and not stage of life. Nobody can force you to go but I’d still encourage you to do so if you wish.

  17. I’m quick to scroll through my blog feed but your first sentence caught my eye:

    At our first (in)courage beach trip, I was the only single girl in attendance.

    The only. I’ve been “the only single girl in attendance” at Christian women’s things for 20+ years. Just you posting this gives me comfort that I’m not alone. We are not alone! But Satan sure likes to spew the “you are the only one” at us. Blech!

  18. I really enjoy in courage and I will set at Jesus feet with you every day. I am 49 years old. I am married with two teenage sons. One with a disability and have one dog. I am very happy there is a place for every one here. I keep my eyes open to women around me no matter the chapter or season they are living. I reach out to women of all ages. We as women who love Jesus have a lot in common and need to come together to grow and love. WOMEN NEED WOMEN. I sit with all women at the feet of Jesus.

  19. Could this be the same Annie Downs from St. James at UGA? If so, my sister, I have prayed for you, looked for you, thought of you for over a decade now! Please email me and let me know. I can’t wait to reconnect!

    – Melissa Daniel Lu