this post originally appeared at Simple Felicity.net here, and was written as part of a month-long series on Singleness and the Church. I loved it so much, I had to share it here! The author, Sara Rendell’s blog, Lexical Therapy, can be found here.
If you are anything like me, you are sick to death of reading about being single. Mostly because a lot of articles, blog posts, and books about being single seem to come from the place of “suffering well”, as if being single is a time to simply suffer through as best we can, with our hope, eyes, and hearts all pointing towards the golden days of no longer being alone.
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to spend my life “suffering well.” My life isn’t something to suffer through, it’s the only time I have to LIVE well, to do God’s work well, to feel joy and love with abundance and abandon.
There are always going to be young people rushing into marriage to avoid the stigma of singledom and the temptation of lust. There are always going to be people who never really lived life as a single adult and just don’t understand. They are going to be all up in your business any time you happen to be speaking to someone of the opposite sex. They will ask you if you’re dating every opportunity they have and will attempt to console you by reminding you what a catch you are. You will want to punch them right in their faces some days. Other days you will want to curl up in the fetal position and cry from the sheer weight of being lonely in a way that can’t be quenched by friendship. You will cringe every time a pastor who has been married since they were 20 years old tries to give practical advice on being single when you can tell he/she didn’t actually speak to any single adults before offering up those words. There will be days you feel helpless.
But here’s what we CAN do, single Christians; we can dig in and do the hard work.
#1 – Tell the Truth!
We can be honest and loving with our married friends and TELL THEM when they are being horrible. How else are our friends going to know? Part of a culture that treats marriage as the end goal, is that it’s normal to act like we have it all together when we are in a relationship (married or dating). And part of feeling like we have it all together is feeling like we know everything. Feeling like you know everything leads to feeling like we need to impart that knowledge onto everyone around us. Be honest, we have all done it, most of the time with good intentions. The only way to change that culture is to be willing to have hard conversations with the people we love and do life with.
So singles, suck it up, sit down over a cup of coffee, and tell your friends in relationships when they are being awful. But don’t stop there! Tell them specifically what will bless you and help you through this time of being single.
#2 – Rejoice with Your Friends!
When our friends get married, we can refuse to let it put a wedge in our friendships and find ways to make adjustments. If your friendships are important to you, and they should be, you will understand that things will change and be able to have an open and honest conversation about how that can happen, because your friendship WILL NEED TO CHANGE. Different doesn’t mean less awesome, just a new kind of awesome.
We can stop taking things personally; no one is getting married AT YOU*, even though it feels that way sometimes. Our friends are not getting married to spite us or rub in our faces the fact that we are still single. Hopefully they are getting married because God led them into a new season of life that includes being part of a partnership that will help them grow and find new ways to bring the kingdom. Celebrate this! It has absolutely nothing to do with you and where God is taking you. Honestly, if you’re offended by your friend’s new relationship/marriage, you are being selfish and petty. Believe me, I have been there, and I had to have some hard conversations with God about why I was upset when I should have been happy. Focusing so much on you is a fantastic and quick way to isolate yourself from Jesus.
#3 – Trust God & Do the Next Thing**
We can keep doing what God calls us to do even if we don’t have the support or encouragement of “churchy” people. Not everyone is going to understand, or even try to understand your season of being single. And that is ok. Your job is to stick close to Jesus and keep doing what he’s instructing you to do.
OH, AND A SIDE NOTE FOR MARRIED PEOPLE…
You can take some responsibility too.
Understand that matchmaking isn’t helpful, and in fact it makes a lot of us feel like you think we aren’t good enough on our own.
Stop acting like single people are missing out on something; you are missing out on some pretty amazing things that come with being single!
Make the effort to include your single friends, especially if they were your friends before you got married; being married doesn’t mean some of your friends aren’t good enough anymore, if they were good enough before the wedding, they are good enough after.
And most important, recognize the places where your thinking may not actually line up with what God says and take the time to repent to your single friends for the times you may have wronged them because of it. So much healing can happen after you simply own your mistakes.
In the end, when we are all in infinite community with God in a perfect world, the last relationship status you were able to put on Facebook isn’t going to matter. Marriage as we know it won’t exist, and we probably aren’t going to care. We will have something better. So why put such importance on something that is so fleeting? Instead let’s focus on what Jesus said was important; loving our God and loving our neighbor.
Instead of creating divisions, create community. Love each other and serve each other. Lift up the weak and needy, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, weep with the mourning, give family to the orphan, and seek out justice and truth. Above all, be the brightest reflection of Jesus that you are able to.
*THANK YOU TO GLENNON MELTON, WHO IN HER BLOG POST “QUIT POINTING YOUR AVOCADO AT ME”, GAVE ME THE CONCEPT OF PEOPLE DOING THINGS “AT ME/YOU”. CHECK OUT HER AMAZING PARENTING POST ABOUT STOPPING THE COMPETITION AND NOT BEING THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE HERE.
Sara Rendall is a Jesus Girl and mom to the most adorable and awesome 4 year old boy; writing has always been her therapy of choice, but enjoying a good night at the theatre is a close second. When she isn’t being a mom or putting pen to paper, she prefers to be knitting or reading anything she can get her hands on and thanks God daily for the internet and all the ways it provides a constant stream of amazing reading material right to her pocket. Her current blog obsessions include Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Glennon Melton and of course her dear friend Happy.
Sara writes sporadically about Life, As It Is… at lexicaltherapy.blogspot.com.