I Will Wait for You – a poem by JANETTE…IKZ
How can single people effectively support each other?
Akirah commented on the last post, saying, “Thinking about women, I think a lot of us would benefit from friendships where men are not the sole focus. Supporting each other in all areas of life remind women that there’s much more to living than finding a husband. So I’d say, find friends who affirm you in all areas.” I think many women are guilty of having a one-track mind, and that carries over to their conversations and relationships with other women. Perhaps we become the people whose first question is “Are you dating anyone yet?” though we dread when parents, clergy, or non-single friends do the same to us. It’s important to express interest in the lives of our friends and not just the love lives of our friends. Show your friends that you care about them as a person. Your friend is not just a “single person” but also an employee (or not – also an important part of their life), a child, maybe a sibling, perhaps a model train enthusiast – many things aside from their relationship status, which describe who they are at this point in time.
It’s easy enough to have a one-person pity party. I’ve had nights where I just laid in bed listening to every unrequited love song in my music library. And when we do talk about relationships with single friends, it can be easy to compare sob stories. We must try not to indulge bitterness toward singleness, though. Some of the earlier response posts mentioned other ways to think about singleness, none of which require bitterness or a negative attitude. Encourage other single people to take advantage of the unique opportunities that singleness offers, whether they are interested in picking up a new hobby or need to discover their value as an individual. Read Redefining Singlehood for an example of having positive and encouraging conversations with friends about being single.
This is the final post in the Single Sunday series, but I doubt it will be the last post on the topic. I encourage everyone to continue the conversation and to think about how you view singleness in your own life. If there is a question you would like this blog to address, post it to the Facebook page or as a comment on any of the previous posts. Continue to share the series with friends and continue talking about these questions. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this series and participated in the conversation!
I think isolation results from my own perception of the situation. An evening hanging out with a bunch of married couples doesn’t seem like a good time for a single adult. I would probably assume I would feel isolated or unable to relate to anyone. I would probably find a way to excuse myself from the event. I picture myself sitting in a chair as couples gather in love seats around the room. They sip coffee or wine as they discuss politics, retirement plans, and college funds for their children. I sit in my chair wondering if anyone saw that incredible movie I’ve been wanting to discuss. But that’s how I picture it – not necessarily how it is. Sure, there may be some people who switch into some “married couple mode,” or as Jon Acuff from Stuff Christians Like puts it, “Your friends that have been married for 15 minutes act like they suddenly don’t remember anything about dating and therefore can’t give you any advice. ‘It’s been so long since I dated, things have changed so much. I’m just out of that whole scene.'” I have learned, however, that there are married couples out there who are so welcoming and hospitable to the single people in their lives. These are the married couples who don’t make you painfully aware of your singleness. You admire their marriage, but with them you are not ashamed to have a life that lacks a marriage like theirs. With them, you are just a friend.
I do sense some isolation among other single adults who have different attitudes toward singleness and marriage. For example, some single women I know are in their late 30s or older, each with at least one ex-husband. They dump men who don’t make enough money; they joke (maybe?) about finding husbands who make enough money so they can maintaining their shopping habits without working. Call me naive or idealistic, but I’m looking for love. I haven’t found it yet, and until then I remain single. I’m not interested in being a 30-year-old gold-digger with three ex-husbands. Because of our difference in opinions about relationships, despite the common ground of our status as single women, I find it hard to relate to them. I’ve been told before by women like them that my standards are too high, and with them I feel ideologically – and maybe even socially – alone and isolated.
It is important to note that singleness does not need to go hand-in-hand with isolation. As we discussed in response to Question 4, single people can avoid isolation and loneliness by including people who love and support them in their lives. I feel fortunate to have good friends – and the opportunity to make new friends – in my life. Over the past week, I’ve been able to spend time with friends, some of whom are also single. We’ve watched TV specials, gathered for meals, prayed together, gone bowling, played games, and generally enjoyed each others’ company. Because of my friends, I have no excuse to feel isolated or alone. But I will be honest and say I’ve had to work for this. I had to get out of my home and go through the awkward and uncomfortable process of meeting new people in order to make new friends. But again, in honesty, no longer feeling isolated is worth the discomfort that meeting new people can bring.
When I wrote my original response, a lot of my answers seemed to center around comments I was tired of hearing. I knew what I didn’t like, but I didn’t seem to know what I needed to hear instead.
Picture yourself in front of a group of friends, family and/or your congregation. Tell them:
A) how they can help you feel valued as a single adult
Please don’t let your first question be ‘Do/Why don’t you have a boyfriend yet?’ I would feel much more valued as a single adult and an individual in general if you didn’t make my relationship status the most important life update. Surely, you are also interested in hearing about my new hobbies or full-time job.
B) what things are detrimental to you feeling valued or content as a single adult
Before I started watching romantic comedies more critically, movies definitely threatened my feeling content with singleness. They present such an ideal picture of being in a relationship that being single is no longer satisfactory. When I am feeling discontent, I also have to be careful not to indulge in songs about unrequited love. Sure, they remind me that others have found themselves in a similar situation and perhaps express my emotions more eloquently, but sometimes I allow myself to use those songs to wallow in my sadness.
C) what are the unique needs of a single adult?
Friendship is not a need unique to single adults, but I think those who are single rely on or need friendship more than those in relationships do. A woman may count on her husband or boyfriend to be a date to a social event, a counselor, or a companion when trying something new and potentially uncomfortable. A single woman, however, relies on her friends not only to be friends but to serve as stand-in significant other. Single adults also need a certain sense of affirmation or validation. Sometimes we wonder if we are single because we are not [fill-in-the-blank: attractive, funny, rich, etc.] enough. We need to hear that we are valued, regardless of our relationship status.
I’m sure there are others out there who have experienced something similar to my response to Part A, whether from extended family members or the church family (my sister has had pastors ask her about her relationship status when she has returned from a different state or from her mission field in a different country). I knew that it didn’t make me feel valued when people were most interested in my relationship status than almost anything else going on in my life, but what could help me feel valued other than a change of focus in conversations?
I didn’t know until recently what I needed to feel valued as a single person. This Sunday, Kim (http://garlandhouse.blogspot.com) spoke in our young adult fellowship group at church about Biblical manhood and womanhood, and some of what she said is exactly what I needed to hear. What I learned about singleness in the Bible and about Biblical womanhood helped me to feel valued. Corrie covered some of the same information in The Purse, but it was good to hear it again. One thing Kim talked about was singleness as a high calling. In the modern Church culture, we often say, “If I can’t be married, then I guess I’ll be single.” But in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says the opposite!
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
– 1 Corinthians 7:8-9
If you can’t be single, then get married. Singleness is a high calling. Some are called to it for a brief period, others for a lifetime. In the past I have wondered, “Maybe God is calling me to a life of singleness if I still haven’t met anyone.” But now I wonder, “Would I have what it takes to respond should God call me to a life of singleness?” John Piper and Wayne Grudem have this to say in their book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:
The point is this: singleness has been a noble and courageous path for ministry ever since Jesus and the Apostle Paul chose it “because of the kingdom of heaven.” It is no sign of weakness to want to be married. It is normal, and it is good. The courage comes when you sense God calling you to singleness (for this chapter of your life) and you accept the call with zeal and creative planning for His glory.
Do I have the courage to accept the call to my present singleness with zeal and use this gift – Paul calls both marriage and singleness a gift – to bring glory to God? And what if God does call me to a life of singleness? Thanks to what I heard from Kim on Sunday, I am learning to view that possibility as a blessing rather than a curse. This change in perspective has allowed me to see better the value in singleness. I really appreciate Kim’s ability (even as a married woman with children) to perceive the issues with the way the Church handles single adults and her willingness to say what I wish more churches would tell their single members: you have value.
- Single Sunday: Question 4 Response (cindyagoncillo.wordpress.com)