Serving The Single In The Pew Next To You

What really are you serious? Yes I am! :)

As a teen I never dreamed that I would be in my thirties and still single. But, in God’s wonderful plan, I am. The older I get the more convinced I am of three things,

1. God truly is all I need. He is enough. I pray all the time for a husband (Trust me! I do!), but I’ve come to realize that the only all-satisfying relationship I will ever encounter is the one with my Heavenly Father.

2. God didn’t intend for us to walk life alone. I’m keenly aware of this fact when I walk through a tough decision or trial. There’s nothing like a trial to make one wish you had a strong shoulder to cry on.

3. I desperately need my local church. I need them for accountability, for wisdom, for friendship, for support, and the list goes on and on. God intended for us to live in community. The older I get the more I see my Father’s wisdom in calling us to be in a local church.

But, for some reason, there is often this invisible dividing line between singles and marrieds. Everyone wants to cross it, but no one knows how. For some people this isn’t an issue, but I think for most Christians that awkward tension exists (even if it’s only a small amount). I’ve been thinking and praying about this lately and here are a few reasons (and I’m sure there are many more) I’ve come up with…

  • Business. Everyone is busy (singles and marrieds alike) and it’s hard to make schedules mesh.
  • Lies. I honestly think Satan uses those lying thoughts to keep us from strong community. “They really don’t want you around, they’re just saying that because they have to.” “They’re married, why would they want a third wheel making things awkward.” “They’re single and can do whatever they want. Why would they want to hang out with some boring married folk?” All of these for the record, are NOT TRUE.
  • Laziness. It’s work to go out of your way to talk to and hang with someone you don’t know well. It’s easier to stay in your own little comfortable circle. I know it is for me.

None of these factors, though real, are great excuses. Some of my most cherished friendships are with “married folk” and I want to purposefully prioritize my own schedule and fight temptation towards ease; to fan those friendships into even better ones! This is where I need the Holy Spirit and need to desperately cry out for his help every day!

The purpose of this post, though, isn’t to talk about me. I want to encourage married people out there to pursue the single that sits next to you at church. It may feel awkward at first, but let me tell you, it’s well worth the effort. In an attempt to “demystify” singles, I’ve listed a couple of things that will hopefully help debunk some of those lies and misconceptions. These are taken from my own experience and those of my friends. Please remember that not every single thinks, acts, or feels the same. Just like you, we’re all pretty unique. :D This isn’t an exaustive list, it’s just some of my thoughts (with some added humor thrown in for fun)…

Dont’s:

  • Don’t attempt to match them up with every living breathing single. While matchmaking can be used by God to bring two people together, think before you match make. Some people are excellent matches and then again some aren’t. And trying to match every single guy you’ve ever met with that single girl in your care group, yeah maybe not the best idea. :) Your friendship should consist of more than just trying to marry them off.
  • Don’t assume that singles just want to hang with other singles. That is NOT true!!! Most of the singles I know love hanging out with marrieds. They just don’t want to intrude on your busy lives and let’s just face it, it’s awkard being the single in a room full of married people.
  • Don’t treat them as glorified babysitters or your personal single servant. I’ve often heard the phrase “Singles have more time on their hands. They should serve more, since they have more time.” Yes, in part that is true. I do have more time than a mommy with a house full of kiddos. But, I’d caution you from thinking that way of all singles. There are singles who may need to serve more. They may need to stop playing their Xbox for 6 hours at a time and maybe take some of that time (Note I said some, not all. There’s nothing wrong with playing Xbox.) to serve someone. BUT, my concern is that this “buzz phrase” has unintentionally turned into a mindset of “why can’t the singles do it?”. We are a community and for a community to work, we must all do our part. Some singles have a lot of time on their hands, some work taxing jobs, have responsibilites at home, serve in multiple areas of church, etc. Not all singles are the same and their seasons of life aren’t the same. I guess what I’m trying to say is, do you view your single friends as the “church’s work horses” or friends that you co-labor with?

Do’s:

  • Not all singles are the same. I think I’ve said that before. :) Ask questions, draw them out. Find out their own particular needs. Don’t assume that an “I’m great!” really is everything going on in their life. Unless I know that you REALLY want to know what’s going on in my life, I’m going to give you a truthful, yet not detailed account life. I’m not going to unload on you unless I know you really want to know. Personally, I’m terrible about asking for help. I’m proud and I want to do it myself. I need (and have) friends in my life to draw me out and find out what’s really going on. Not everyone is this way, but you’d be surprised how many singles will open up if you show real interest.
  • Find ways to specifically bless and encourage them. My friend Julie is an expert at knowing when I need a hug. You know those long days, when you don’t want to talk, but you’re exhausted and really all you want is a hug and someone to tell you it’s all gonna be ok? Julie and her daughter Abbi are faithful to love on me and listen to me and give me hugs. So simple, yet SO meaningful. Every single is going to be blessed in a different way. Find out what blesses them (food always works!) and encourage them often! Singles aren’t always happy go lucky and care free. We have struggles and trials and are tempted to discouragement just like everyone else. The only difference is they may or may not have someone to turn to for that hug. Don’t assume they do.
  • Serve them practically. My friend Robyn is a great example of this. She was my age when she got married and has amazing sympathy and wisdom for older single women. I am so grateful to the Lord that we’re friends. Recently, my grandma was in and out of the hospital and ended up having to have her leg amputated. This needless to say, was a very hard time for me as I love my grandma very much. Robyn faithfully prayed for me. But, her care went further than that. At 8 months pregnant she constantly asked me how she could practically serve me. Could she bring me a meal? How could she help. And though at the time all I needed was prayer, that simple question blessed me more than I can express. It made me cry, actually. It was the first time someone had ever offered to bring me, a single a meal. It floored me, honestly. Another great example is my friend Nikki. Her husband, Danny, is very skilled in all things electrical. I had a light switch that was sparking and being quite wonky. It was a this could burn your house down kind of problem. I asked Nikki if Danny would be able to take a look at it (as I know NOTHING about home repairs). Danny drove over on a Sunday afternoon and fixed my switch. When I asked how much I owed him (he had to replace the switch), he said it was nothing and not to worry about it. Even though the part was only $2, I still felt so much care from my friends.
  • Go after singles, don’t assume that you’re imposing or they don’t want to “hang” with you. I love hanging with marrieds. I love playing with their kids. I love going over to friends houses and sitting on the couch and reading to their kids. I totally don’t mind that awkward alone time as mom and dad are putting their screaming children to bed and I’m alone in the living room. That’s life. And I love doing life with my church.

The bottom line. You live in a community. You are apart of a local church. Think of it as one big huge family. If you had a brother or sister that was single (and maybe you do), you don’t feel awkward around them. You invite them over for dinner. You go to the park with them. You do life together with them. Think of that single that sits next to you, in that way. Do life with them. Be apart of their lives and let them be apart of your lives. You’ll sin against each other. It’ll be weird and awkward at first. But, if you persevere, trust me, you won’t regret it. As I said, some of my dearest friends are married folk that walk out life with me. I couldn’t walk this path with out them!

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