I’m a single woman in my thirties.
*queue the violins, sad looks, and make way for the family of cats that are about to move in*
That seems to be the response I sometimes get when it comes to the topic of singleness. Most days, being a person short of a couple doesn’t really bother me. Aside from the occasional “being single kinda sucks today” text messages or phone calls my friends get to be on the receiving end of, I think my life is pretty good. I get to serve along side some of the most amazing group of young adults leading our generation closer to Jesus. I’m gearing up for a missions trip to Nicaragua in July and a couple of other trips in the works for later this year. I have a pretty great tribe of friends who help keep me on the narrow path to Heaven, usually with some kicking and screaming. My wild and crazy kids keep me on the go and well, you know…Netflix.
All and all, I enjoy being single. Do I wish to be married one day? Of course and I have the hidden Pinterest boards to prove it. But until then, I am free to actually live and enjoy life until my other half comes along. There is so much noise about singles and marriage in the world and I do a pretty good job of tuning out all the depressing stats and divisive opinions. However, one of the real downsides of being single is standing outside looking into the windows of the church or even the lives of formerly single friends longing for a place to belong. It’s no secret that the church places a lot of value on being married and rightly so according to the Bible. With the upgrade in status once two become one, access to the coveted marriage club and it’s perks can leave singles feeling a little slighted. The church celebrates weddings with far greater fanfare than say a single girl graduating from college or a single guy starting his own business. Yes, we understand that marriage is a far different season in life than being single and graduating from law school. We get it. But make space for us singles at the church conference tables or even at the family dinner tables. Don’t discount singles because they haven’t made their way down the aisle. You would be surprised at just how valuable we are right where we are.
Married: Make space in your life for your single friends. We definitely don’t want to take away precious time from your spouse or all the..ahem..benefits that marriage allows, but carve out an afternoon coffee date or dinner with your single friends. We really do want to know how life is going with you and hope you want to know what’s going on with us, now that you are married. Believe it or not, we don’t mind being invited over to dinner with you and your spouse and we wont feel like a third wheel. What better way to get some insight on marriage than from a real live married couple, right? Once your family starts to hear the pitter patter of little feet, we really don’t mind having dinner at your place complete with crying babies and toddlers. We actually love the idea of family, even if it’s not our own. We don’t always mind rocking a baby while you make dinner and tell us about what’s going on in your life. We really do want to walk along side you in the season of life you are in as well as you walking with us in the season of life we are in.
Church: Make space for single people in ministry, but not just in the margins. In far too many churches, marriage tends to be the standard by which godliness and maturity is measured. It gives the illusion that singles haven’t quite “arrived” therefore are often overlooked, especially in leadership positions. Essentially, if you are unmarried by a certain age, you probably have some hidden sin you haven’t confessed and God is still trying to do a work in you before gifting you with a spouse. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Also, let’s acknowledge the fact that most messages on singleness or dating are being preached by pastors who haven’t been single in a very long time. That does not mean they can’t speak volumes of wisdom on the subject matter, but dating in this very digital, very disconnected and rather spiritually lukewarm day and age is hard. I’ve heard plenty of messages on how to date/court God’s way and how to have a dynamic marriage, but let’s open up the pulpit to let singles talk about how to live and thrive during the single years. Many of us are doing it and doing it well and so many need to know that it really is possible.
Singles: Make space in your life for your honest feelings about being single and your desire for marriage. Don’t go from one extreme that idolizes marriage or to the other extreme that makes you deny the fact that you actually want to get married. I’ve been guilty of trying so hard not to idolize marriage that my contentment in being single became my idol. Why continuously pray from something that may not come to pass, right? Wrong. God is not scared by our continuous petitions for marriage. He is well aware that the desire is there but would much rather we desire Him more than we desire a spouse. Make space for people who will speak truth when the lies and discontentment start to take root and not just people who will be a plus one to your pity party.
In a world that divides us into singles, singles with kids, marrieds, marrieds with kids, divorced and widowed, let get back to the basics. Acts 2:42-47 says:
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
I can only imagine that in the Acts 2 communities, everyone did life together. Singles and marrieds together. And it was good. And hearts were glad and filled with praise. And they supported anyone who was in need, regardless of marital status. And God was pleased because He added to their number daily those who were being saved.