This spring I was a part of a single moms retreat in Minnesota. The retreat hosts several hundred single moms and volunteers. Three years ago, when I first heard about the retreat and all the love and support they lavished on the single mamas who attended, I just knew I wanted to be a part of it.

But I was hesitant. What would I have to offer? I’m not a single mom. I wasn’t raised by a single mom. I really don’t have many close friends who are single moms. How would I be able to help? And wouldn’t it just be kind of silly for me?

Talking with Carol, the organizer for the event, gave me the confidence I needed to join the team, and for two years I organized, planned, and put on the Diva Boutique — a shop set up for the women to come and get new and gently used clothing and accessories for free, all part of their retreat experience.

Then this past fall, after deciding to step down as the boutique organizer, Carol asked if I’d like to be an advisor for the retreat while also emceeing with the other organizer. Again, I thought, Won’t people think it’s weird? Won’t they wonder why this woman, who really has no connection to single moms, loves single moms so much?

But when I told Carol my fears, she quickly smiled and told me that God uses people, sometimes in places and ways they never thought possible.

I agreed to do it because I love Carol and I love single moms and because, over the past couple of years, I have also gotten to know Julie, the other organizer for the retreat and emcee for the event. Julie is a single mom herself— just finished college, works full time, and raised four amazing kids—and is one of the kindest people I know. Really. She is honest, caring, to the point, and gracious all at the same time. And I admire her so much.

The weekend went off beautifully. Julie and I had so much fun (maybe a little too much) emceeing and rooming together, along with our assistants friends. The entire weekend I just could not. stop. smiling. We laughed together. We cried. We got honest. We had fun. We bonded.

We became friends. Good friends.

And here’s what I keep thinking about now that it’s all over: What if I had missed this opportunity? What if I had let my insecurity or ideas about how I’m different or have nothing to offer be a reason not to participate?

What would I have missed?

Because the truth is, the single moms retreat is one of my absolute favorite weekends of the entire year. You couldn’t pay me to miss it. I love this mission, this tribe of women.

I’m telling you all this because there just might be something outside of your comfort zone that you feel called or led to do.  And maybe, like me, what’s holding you back is what you perceive as your differences. But what if that thing outside of what you know is the very thing meant to fulfill you?

I’m realizing my friends don’t have to all be just like me. In fact, I’d prefer if they weren’t. I want to be challenged in my thinking and habits. I want to see the world through different eyes.

I’m beginning to believe we were meant to love those who, at least on the surface, look very different from us. It’s one way that God reminds us that we’re all in this together. And that we need one another.

I’m beginning to understand that love comes to us when we’re open to it and that sometimes friendship is created in the most unlikely places.

 

Kendra Egeland Roehl

Author Kendra Egeland Roehl

Kendra received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and has worked for hospice programs, low-income housing, and the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Medical Center. A mother of four, she and her husband are both foster and adoptive parents. She is a speaker and writer about topics such as marriage, motherhood, foster care, adoption, and social justice at The Ruth Experience.

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