To My Single Sisters:
I’m sorry for the position I’ve put you in, and I get it because I’ve been there.
I’ve gone to Church and sat alone, scanning the room throughout the service for others like me.
I’ve been the single in the group of couples who listened as ladies referenced their spouses in the conversations I’d intentionally started in hopes of learning more about them as individuals.
I’ve attended dinners with family and friends and listened while they used my marital status as that night’s hot topic in hopes to ‘find me a husband.’
I’ve been the girl who rolled her eyes when the first question out of a new acquaintance’s mouth was ‘Are you seeing anyone?’
I’ve prayed to stop fixating on the future life, husband and marriage I longed for, and to instead feel content in my present situation.
I could keep listing examples in hopes that you’ll trust my relation to what you’re going through, but the words would fall short. Because here’s the thing… I’m married now. And while I’m open about how difficult the journey of marriage is and how hard my husband and I are fighting to stay afloat, at the end of the day, your journey is tougher than mine. In life and especially in the Church, it often seems easier to be in a struggling marriage than it is to be single.
When I can’t seem to find the right thing to say, I can always revert to bringing up my husband or one of his quirks. I can talk about our memories, routines, trips, or even our silly arguments that are sure to get a laugh. Conversations come with more ease because even when I don’t have the words to say about myself, I have another half to reference for a good story. I say with regret, humility, and sadness that I’ve hypocritically become the person I used to struggle with the most; the woman whose conversations, personality and identity have become rooted in her role as a wife first, and daughter of God second. I admit that when I said yes to a life of marriage, I conveniently buried my season of singleness and washed it from my memory.
Please forgive me for my naive ignorance. But here’s what I’m going to do to make it up to you. I’m not telling you that I’ll now air on the side of sensitivity when interacting in community with you. I may still bring up my husband in conversations or use him as the unfortunate butt of my jokes. However, I can promise to lift you up with positive outlooks and prayer, instead of making you feel discontent in the season God purposefully placed you. I will work to sit in the gap with you in this sometimes hard battle of waiting on the Lord while longing for the husband He placed in your heart. I will share in God’s proclamation that you are a complete, fearfully and wonderfully made work of art who can impact the world right here, right now. I’ve got your back, and I promise to be more intentional in showing you how much you’re loved, adored, and without void.
To My Married Sisters:
I think we should take the time to remember our single years. Let’s face it; our forgetfulness was intentional. We couldn’t wait to enter this marriage club and never have to look back on those hard times of loneliness, doubt, and impatience. The second we put that ring on, we gained privilege and lost perspective. We swept memories of feeling like second-class citizens of the Church and society under the rug. But it’s time to stop being unintentionally self-centered, and start being mindful about the journeys of our sisters around us.
What if we used more of our time together to talk about the hidden hopes and dreams God has placed in our hearts?
What if we stopped reverting to conversation topics about our spouse to cop out of digging deeper and leaning in with both the married and single women in the room?
What if we started inviting our single brothers and sisters in our home to do life with us instead of only pairing up with other married couples?
What if our desires changed from helping women find husbands to encouraging them to grow where God currently has them?
What if we got uncomfortable in our own lives, conversations, and interactions and started being real about our past struggles and current realities?
I believe if we made an effort to change the way we engage, our friendships would change. Our communities would change. God’s kingdom would change. So, let’s be the change.
To the Church:
It's time to change the narrative. I say all this with an open heart, and I hope you'll hear me out. The less time we spend being defensive about how we’ve over-glorified marriage as a Church body, the more time we can spend finding a way to change how we view singleness. I’m going to assume you forewent the defensiveness and we can jump right in.
Singles don’t feel comfortable in the Church. Can we blame them? Using one side of our mouths we’ve emphasized God’s perfect timing, yet with the other, we’ve furthered the ‘If Only’ disease by proclaiming, intentionally or unintentionally, that marriage should be the end goal of every Christian. We preach over Paul’s message regarding singleness in 1 Corinthians 7 and how it can help advance our spiritual lives in ways that couldn’t happen if we were married, but do we mean it? How are we viewing, utilizing, and uplifting the singles in our own congregations?
Members in the life stage of singleness bring so much to the table. They’re working around one person’s schedule, not two. They’re willing and ready to volunteer, serve and lead. These brothers and sisters are in a prime position to be on mission, yet they probably don’t feel as if they can achieve the standards of qualification for ministry without a spouse in tow. We can change that narrative! We can start by removing the elephant from the room, and admit to our over-glorification. Call it out, own up to it, then change it. Try using the ‘s’ word more often, especially in your call for volunteers, help and leadership. Singleness doesn’t have to be seen as darkness, so let’s bring it to the light.
Not only should we be putting the singles of our Church in positions to live out their faith in the Church, but we should also be putting them in positions to connect. No, not just to connect with the intention of meeting, marrying and multiplying our Church body (which is an added bonus for membership if it so happens that way), but with the mindset to create connections around shared journeys and life stages. The definition of community is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. While I firmly believe in the need for diverse gatherings of members, including a mix of people who are married, single, divorced, widowed, young and old, I want us to think about trying to help singles flourish, the same as we’d do for married couples. Whether that’s a singles class, a special sermon series, or an event with a fun, non-threatening activity or guest speaker, we can create better environments and opportunities for people to connect over a shared ‘“Amen” and “me too.”
It’s long overdue that we, the Church, lean in and create an encouraging and welcoming space at the table for unmarried Christians. I’m challenging us to set our single brothers and sisters up for success to thrive in their seasons without a spouse, not just survive.
Whatever Life Stage You're In...
I hope you've read this letter with a receptive heart and open mind. I pray that you'll allow this message to broaden your perspective and deepen your relationships in the same way these realizations did for me. More than anything, I hope that you'll use these words as the starting line for the connections you can make today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life.
Joyful Takeaway: If we made an effort to change the way we engage, our friendships would change. Our communities would change. God’s kingdom would change. So, let’s be the change.
If this message impacted you in some way, or if you know someone who would benefit from reading, share it out! You can also drop your thoughts or takeaways in the comment section below.