Monday, April 13, 2015

Church, let's talk about singleness

This post has been churning in my soul for a while now. I just spent the weekend with a really dear friend and she asked some really great questions about being 29 and single.

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about how we, as singles, can approach singleness, but there's definitely more to the conversation. 

Recently, I attended a lovely women's event at my church. (If you're CT and are looking for a new church community, mine is awesome. Come.)  Before I got to the door, a friend of mine pulled up and asked that I bring her newborn baby into the house while she parked the car. No problem. I love babies. So I did. I walked in and within a matter of minutes, I was met with a swirl of totally well-intentioned comments. "Motherhood looks good on you!", "Don't worry, you'll have one some day!" All comments coming from totally loving and amazing women.  And it hit me. Wow. I don't think people actually understand how to deal with the awkwardness that singleness presents to married people! 

At a completely different event, a gentleman came up to me and said, "Help me with something." I listened earnestly, "How is it that a beautiful, passionate, intelligent woman like yourself is still single?" 

Now. Before you roll your eyes, get angry and go off on a monologue about how people are so insensitive and rude...stay with me for just a few sentences. 

It is really easy to get upset. But it's really not this guy's fault! You see, there really isn't a good conversation being had in the church especially about caring for singles! 

If I take a moment and translate these comments to better align with the intentions here's what you'd hear:

"Motherhood looks good on you" = "Amy, I really appreciate how loving you are towards that little one. It's beautiful." 

"Don't worry, you'll have one some day!" = "I really hope you're not sad that you don't have a child. I pray you find joy in the place God has you." 

"How is it that beautiful, passionate, intelligent woman like yourself is still single" = "You're an amazing woman and I'm grateful to know you." 

Not so anger-inducing, right? So how do we help our married friends love our single friends? 

First - we have more intentional conversations! A girlfriend of mine has no desire to get married. She just doesn't  have it in her heart. How do we care for her? Be interested in her! It doesn't have to be awkward when someone discovers her story. They can actually dive into her incredible heart and passion for music and learn a bit more about God's creation that way! 

Does it take more work to ask questions beyond, "Are you dating someone" and "Wow, you really don't want to get married"? YES! But, are we really interested in being lazy in loving others? Reflect there for a second. 

What if someone does want to get married? Still, be more focused on who she/he is rather than what you can do to "fix the predicament".  There's so much to a person's soul and heart place that we can't possibly know from first or second encounter. 

Second - celebrate singleness. I've got to be honest, folks. These years of being single have been really awesome. Yes, there are lonely days. Yes, I do want this season to come to an end at some point. But, I can't begin to tell you how incredibly full these years have been! I've traveled all over the world, had the freedom to be spontaneous and adventurous, had really rich times with the Lord, and have been able to do it on my own schedule. It's been amazing! It is amazing! Celebrate this season with the single men and women in your church. Ask them about what they've been able to do - what drives them. And praise God with them for this time in their lives - help them remember the great things God has done in this season! 

Third- recognize that singleness can be hard and get rid of the pity! In the same way that screaming babies, unfair expectations, and long lists of to-dos can be frustrating and terrible - there are days in the single's life that are really really challenging. We all need to have days where we just cry out and be real about the tough stuff. But imagine if each time someone saw you - mom or dad or married person - they immediately brought up the last conversation about the challenging day you had? "Hey, so how's your terrible two year old? Are you still sad about how your husband expects you to be on top of all of the household chores without helping you?" Awkward, right? Be genuine in your care, but remember that if you believe that God is big enough to hold the universe, He's big enough to care for the wounded heart on a bad day. He's making all things new remember? (Rev. 21:5) 

Fourth - be bold in your friendship and in prayer. Some of my most encouraging days recently have come from long conversations with amazing married women giving me advice and wisdom as I've sorted through some things. I realize this takes 2 sides to work - and I'll write more about that another day - but be bold in caring for the single people in your life. Invite them for dinner, ask them how they're doing and be active in praying for them. 

My hope is that this is helpful! I'm excited about this discussion because of the freedom I've been granted in it - and hoping that my small story allows for others to experience that same freedom! 

I still pray for my husband to be every day. I want him to come soon! I am confident that I can do that WHILE rejoicing in the days God has given me without him. Join me? 


The English Teacher said...

Amy, thanks for sharing your insights! I've been reflecting lately on singleness and how the church could have better helped me during the season that I'm shortly living. Bravo for addressing the issue. It's a dialogue that definitely needs to occur more often. Blessings, dear friend.

-Caitlin Phillips

mjabate said...

I like what you wrote. It's an important subject for the church to discuss, and to continue discussing. This is one of those records that refuses to sound old no matter how often it's played.