I don't think the answer to the invisibility and struggle of singleness is focusing on the singleness. Yes, we need to affirm the real-life difficulties of singleness. Yes, we need to be more inclusive of singles in church activities. But even while we do that, we're highlighting that singleness is Different and Separate from "the rest of the church." So Different and Separate that we need to be extra thoughtful to include them.
The real way to affirm the singles? Recognize their gifts in the church.
I was recently sharing coffee with two lovely ladies, one of whom was single, and she mentioned that she had found herself unexpectedly sharing relationship advice with a friend whose marriage was struggling. "I don't know why I feel I was qualified to share my opinion on what she should do. I've never even been on a date!"
Yet, when the other (married) woman and I heard what this single woman had given as advice to her married friend, we both agreed that her insight was Biblically and practically sound.
The sad part is, society says--and so many single women believe--that singles are "unqualified" to give relationship advice to their attached or married friends.
I utterly reject this lie. Here's why.
Taking a quick break from my Incredible Journey posts, I'd like to highlight a meditation that has recurred often for me recently...
Is marriage a distraction from whole-hearted devotion?
When I was single, I often struggled with a disturbing fear: that my future marriage would distract me from true, single-minded devotion to God. That was always very concerning to me, even though I vaguely understood that having a husband would likely consume much of my time and--let's face it--my affection.
If you're a married woman, here's a great list for including your "single sisters" in your life. If you're single, share shamelessly with your friends! They will enjoy knowing better how to bless you.
My Bargain With God
When I realized that my singleness was going to last years longer than I anticipated, I made a bargain with God.
“For as long as I am single, I desire only this: Let my singleness be more productive and glorifying to You than if I were married. Only let me marry when my marriage will serve You better.”
It sounded spiritual, but it was really a cry of desperation. If I can’t be married and fulfill my greatest desire, I want to know that my singleness is worth something. I’m so terrified of wasting my life.
“You know, despite everything that’s happened, I still really love my life.”
These words came from a woman with whom I had just spent several hours discussing some intense situations in her life, situations that trigger thoughts like, “How did the world get so messed up?” and responses like “I don’t know what to do but pray for you.”
I knew far too well that she struggled with deep emotional pain, but she knew to Whom she could go to find healing and rest. And somewhere, in the midst of all the chaos, she still loved her life.
Single women and married women tend to move in different circles. The married women want to chat about their husbands and their babies with each other, and the single women form their own cliques around hobbies, school, ministries, or the single lifestyle itself.
I think that’s wrong.
Just. Plain. Wrong.
In a previous post, I discussed the single young woman with too little to do. In this post, I discuss the opposite: the single young woman who does everything.
This is the woman who copes with multiple jobs, various responsibilities, ministry or community work, her own business, church duties, leadership roles, and more. She is the one who to whom everyone runs when something needs to be done and whom everyone considers Superwoman.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.