Breadwinner. House payment. Utilities. Car Upkeep. Yard Upkeep. House Upkeep. Making Meals. Cleaning the House. Making Decisions. Serving in Church. Participating in Church. Going to Events. Going to Parties. Putting Gas in the Car. Grocery Shopping. Sick Days. Doctor Visits. Vacations. Family Gatherings. Shopping for well, anything and everything.
Sounds like the typical life of a married couple or family right? 2 or more people pitching in, helping each other, supporting each other, and getting it all done. Now take a moment to read through that list again. Go ahead…I’ll wait…read it through again…
Imagine doing all of that solo, party of one, uno. That would be quite a lot wouldn’t it? The physical energy it would take, the mental prowess to pull it all off, and the emotional strength to have no one to help carry the load.
There appears to be a growing number of Christians in the church that bear this load every single day. Yes, I’m talking about single parents and/or widows & widowers. But, I’m also talking about a group of people that barely existed 15 years ago, the older single. Yes, every church has that one (maybe two) older single, but I’ve noticed that small number seems to be growing. It’s a cultural anomaly that hasn’t really existed en-mass in the decades and centuries of later years. Quite frankly, I don’t think the church knows what to do with them. How do you serve a growing number of congregants that you have never had before? There’s no point of reference and not a lot of books or teachings to draw from.
I get it! If you haven’t lived it, it’s hard to truly grasp and understand the particular struggles and needs of people in a totally different and seemingly unrelatable season. But, to truly serve the body, we need to learn, grow, and serve these dear brothers and sisters. Let me give you a couple of real life examples to illustrate my point. Names and some details have been changed to protect all parties. :)
Lydia is in her 30s. She’s a capable woman who is able to do most of the upkeep needed for her home. In the near future she is planning to rip up the carpet in her living room and install vinyl flooring. There is a couple in the church that she is very close to and she often hangs out at their house. One day she casually mentions this future task and says she’d love some help if they were able. The response from her friends (who are a dear, caring couple), “Well…::pause::…I guess we could. But, it’s really easy, I’m sure you can do it yourself.” Lydia walked away from that encounter knowing she’d never ask them for help again. They loved and encouraged her all the time, but she knew they were very busy and it seemed that in practical things, they had no desire to help.
John is an older single and he owns his home. He works two jobs and has a large yard that is too much for one person to manage. He’s able to do the basics, but there’s a lot he can’t get to. So, John asks if some married guys from his church would mind helping him on a Saturday. If 5 or 10 guys showed up for an hour or two, they could knock out all the “little things” he couldn’t get to. Over the course of 6 months John asked numerous times. And over the course of those months, only a sparse few came out to help. Some work was done and John was very grateful. He understood people had crazy busy lives and he wasn’t angry. But, he did have to fight against feeling like people didn’t care and understand. Will he ever ask for help again? Probably not.
Stacey has grown up in the church her whole life. She is 100% committed to her local church even though there isn’t a thriving singles ministry. People often tell her how much they love her and how grateful they are that she’s apart of the church. She smiles and loves every minute she spends with these dear people. But, if truth be told, she’s so very lonely. Her church does an exemplary job of caring for her soul, but they often forget to check up on the practical aspects of single adulthood. Rarely does anyone invite her over for a meal. Rarely does anyone ask if she needs anything. No one ever thinks to ask if she needs help moving anything or fixing anything. She always has to initiate. Stacey is shy and hates imposing on others. So, she smiles and sucks it up. She knows everyone means well. She knows they don’t ask, because they have no clue what it’s like. She knows she should say what it’s like and ask for help. But, she doesn’t want to whine. So, she does the best she can and invites people into her home. There’s no hard feelings. Stacey is 100% certain that the only reason no one asks is because they haven’t thought to.
This is NOT a blog post to rant or complain. Just simply a post to hopefully challenge people’s thinking. Do you have singles in your church that are over 30? Have you ever sat them down and asked them point blank if they need help? Have you asked them if they’re lonely? Have you asked them to be apart of your life? Have you invited them over? Are you listening and looking for their needs or are you assuming that since they’re single, their life is sunshine and rainbows? Do you include them where appropriate in church functions or do you always expect them to serve? If you’re going to an event, party, or wedding, do you ask if they’re going alone? There are so many things that can be asked, the specific question doesn’t really matter. What matters is that someone is asking and someone cares. Help them carry the load, make it clear they’re not alone.