Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Call It The "S" Word


I never realized how one word was capable of drawing so many emotions and responses: joy, fear, sorrow, sympathy, consolation, faux adoration, religiosity.

There could be a bajillion words around it, but it's the only word that is focused on. It's like honey to a bee. Peanut butter to a mouse. Mr. Darcy to a Jane Austen fan. Sports to a man. Chocolate to a woman. When this word is used, certain people instantly have to comment. They have to share their opinion.

The word is:
SINGLE

When a single person, especially a single Christian woman, makes a comment about their singleness - no matter if it's said joyfully - a married person, typically a married Christian woman - must always make a remark, offer a word of "comfort" or "advice." It's an unwritten rule that I had no idea existed. Until now. It's something I've discovered as I've grown into my role as a single Christian woman.


"Jesus has the right one picked out for you...He just hasn't brought him to you yet!"
(Did you get a special revelation from Jesus? You know this how? Because you got married? You don't know that I'm going to get married. That was God's plan for your life; it may not be His plan for my life. Being single is a good and honorable thing according to the Bible and is considered a gift...just like marriage is.)


"I wish I was still single!"
(Really? You really wish you were still single? You would trade your husband and your children to be back on your own? Being the only person to take care of you? Having only one income? No one to share the burden? You would really wish your husband and your children...YOUR CHILDREN...the ones the Bible calls an inheritance or a gift...you would wish them all away just to be single again? God can easily make your wish come true, but I pray for you He doesn't honor words so carelessly spoken.)


"Enjoy this season of life because one day it will change and you'll wish you had it back!"
(No, if my season of life changes, I won't wish I had this season back. Why? Because we're supposed to rejoice and be content in ALL things. God has used every season in my life to prepare me for the next. I move forward; I never look back. I appreciate the struggles and the lessons I learned to bring me to where I am today. If I ever enter into marriage, it won't be because I'm escaping singleness. I'll be entering into marriage because that's the next place God has called me to serve.)


"Jesus is the best husband you can have!"
(I love Jesus. I really do. But PLEASE don't say this to a single person as you wax eloquent about the wonderful things your husband does for you or complain about your husband leaving his socks on the bedroom floor. If Jesus is the truly the best husband you can have, then why weren't you satisfied with just HIM as your husband? Why did you trade perfection for imperfection?)

"You are going to make the most amazing wife to some lucky guy!"
(Oh, I sooooo know that. I am a phenomenal catch. Yes, I totally know that I've got some mad skills any man would appreciate. I would love to be married and have children. HOWEVER, God has asked me to be single. Maybe, just maybe, He may have given me my mad skills just so I can serve many people instead of just one.)


"I'll be praying for your future husband/wife."
(Thank you. I appreciate that. Could I humbly ask you to switch the focus of your prayer to praying for me? Not selfishly, of course. Would you pray that God would open up doors for me to able to encourage other single people? Would you pray that God will give me the wisdom and right words to say to other singles who are struggling with loneliness? Pray that I'll be in tune with the Holy Spirit's leading, that I'll follow, and that I can discern the needs of others. Thanks!)


Sometimes I wonder if God's allowed me to be single just to remind my fellow Christian marrieds that being single is not a sin. Singleness is OK. It's a gift. It's desirable. It's not something that needs to be fixed. Singleness is not less than.

Look at the words Dictionary.com uses to describe the word SINGLE:
Unique
Sincere
Undivided
Separate
Rare
Particular
Distinct

Rare, undivided, unique, distinct...those are amazing words! They are ENCOURAGING words! They are STRONG words! Who doesn't like to be reminded they are one-of-a-kind? My singleness makes me distinct and rare! Think about the things that are distinct, unique, rare...what comes to mind? Sapphires? Rubies? First edition of Lord of the Rings? Diamonds? Dinosaur bones? Ancient artifacts? Fine wine? Saffron? They are things of value. They are treasured items. They are items we take better care of because of their value. They aren't items that need to be repaired.

Fine. Dinosaur bones and ancient artifacts do, but you get my point.

So, I guess my encouragement to my wonderful, well intentioned, Christian married friends, and I say this in love, would be to stop.

Stop trying to fix what isn't broken. Stop making me feel like I'm broken and I need to be "fixed" by marriage. Stop trying to send me down the direction that God planned for your life. Stop turning Jesus into a heavenly boyfriend. If I mention that I'm single, it's because it's the only way I can describe my status in the context of what I'm trying to communicate. It's a not a plea for sympathy. It's not a plea for admiration. It's not a complaint. It's just a word. Please don't get tripped up by it. Please don't respond with some sort of advice because I'm not asking or inviting you to. You'll know when I am, because I'll specifically extend the invitation. Just smile and nod. You're married. I'm single. We're equals. Singleness is a good thing. It's a GREAT thing. Embrace the word my married friends.

To my single friends: embrace this time. Your heart's desire, your heart's ache even, may be to be married. But God's not chosen that for you yet...and He may never. He may have you destined for a life of singleness. So what are you going to do? Wait around for something that might never happen? Look for ways to serve. Look outside of yourself. Look for ways to encourage other single friends. You may think you don't have any...but the divorced person, the widowed person, the person in a loveless marriage, the younger teen friend can all feel loneliness and fear. You can do things anonymously for them. When you start meeting the needs of others, you'll begin to find some of your own needs met.

So here's my game plan. I'm proceeding right where He has me: a SINGLE woman striving to live her best life devoted solely to her Creator and trying her hardest to use the mad skills He has provided her with to serve the people around her while trying not get bogged down by the people who have different plans for her life than what GOD has planned. I won't (and I don't) critique my friends' marriages or say things that would cause them to feel discontentment where God has them...in marriage. I hope my married friends will understand and won't encourage me to forsake the life God has me living and seek contentment outside of God's will for me currently...in singleness.

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9 comments:

  1. Excellent post! I really hope I've never done any of that. *shudders* Please let me know if I ever do, and I will do penance.

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  2. A million times this! The one that bugs me the most is when they say he's out there somewhere, you just haven't met him yet. Seriously? I don't know what God has planned for me in this area, so when I say I'm ok being single it really means that I'm ok. Because that is what God wants for me right now. If I do meet someone later, then I will rejoice in that as well. If I don't, than that's ok too.

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  3. Well said, and thank you for saying it. How many times I've tried to convey the same thoughts...for I feel EXACTLY the same way. And how many young girls have I talked with, content with their current singleness, who have been made to feel inadequate, badgered and bludgeoned by relatives and friends who constantly throw these same questions/comments at them? When will they understand? When will they STOP hurting the very ones they love? Thanks for your post!!

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  4. Dear Erin,
    All I can say is "Amen." As a 55-year-old, never-been-married, single woman, I have struggled for a *long* time with all the comments, responses, attitudes, etc. that you mentioned in your blog. Even harder is that while the Bible mentions singleness as a gift, just like marriage, it is often silent on matters pertaining to the single woman or man. There is advice for treating widows and orphans, plenty of advice for married people, but not much mention of just plain single women or men. Sometimes it's easy to feel forgotten or relegated to less importance even by God, which I know is not true! I know that Paul says single people have an ability to serve God without distraction from meeting the needs of a spouse. Sometimes I can appreciate that wholeheartedly. Sometimes it's just plain hard to appreciate. So, thank you for articulating so well the issues of being single, especially a single woman. I love Jesus, too. He is the perfect husband in the spiritual realm. But, sometimes there is a desire for a husband, in the flesh. Dealing with those desires is difficult as a single woman, as it means shouldering many hardships alone, as well as experiencing joys alone that might be nice to share with someone. While I know the positive aspects to the life of singleness, I also get the feeling from others, AND myself, that it is "second best" to married-ness. I have always wanted a C. S. Lewis love story, but either I'm not old enough yet (haha) or that is not what God knows is best for me. As I write this, I'm not even sure this is still a desire of mine. And, one thing I have found is that after a certain age, people stop trying to "fix" the "being single" problem. Whether it's out of acceptance for the singleness or whether it's because the situation is viewed as beyond a "fix," I don't know. Either way it is a relief not to be troubled with advice that doesn't support whatever marital status God has called us to live! With much love, a sister in Christ

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  5. LOVE it!!!! I can't tell you how many times people have told me that God has the perfect man for me but just hasn't brought him to me yet...ummm PASS! I'm content being single :)
    Thank you lots for the great blog!

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  6. God Girl! Erin I absolutely love it and I couldn't have said it better. Although I'm married, I was once single and I would cringe when people made their comments to me and try to marry me off...You capture what singles feel and think but haven't spoken up about. You truly made me laugh, and encouraged me as well. Love it!!! I'm gonna definately pass this on...

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  7. Couldn't have wrote it any better than that thanks for that. As a single 34 going on 35 in Dec, my family and friends are worried that it won't happen especially the male members of my family, because you know I couldn't possibly look after myself or succeed financially without a spouse to look after me. I'm not stopping my dreams just because I don't have someone to share them with I'm still believing for a house, a car and to become stable financially/debt free. Then I'll be an even better catch because I will be ready for love and not marry because I'm afraid that if I don't I won't be secure.
    I learned a long time ago that having a spouse is not always the answer especially if your not ready to be in a marriage a lot of woman want the romantic version of what love is you know the dates, gifts, proposal, dream wedding, but then reality kicks in and they realize that marriage is hard work.
    I'm ready for the work when it comes because I will know who I am in Christ and not need him to fulfill my needs. I do believe that I will be married just don't know the when and that's okay with me right now.

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  8. Erin, this was passed on to me by a Sister in my Bible Study. I originally joined this Bible study because we all had something in common - we were all single women. Three years ago, I met the life-partner God had planned for me and we were married a year and a half ago. I stopped attending the group study not because anyone asked me too, but because I wasn't sure if they would still want me in the group since I was no longer single. Boy was I wrong. Six months after being married, my father unexpectedly passed away and the beautiful women in this group came to support me during this time. I was so filled with gratitude to see these dear Christian friends come and support me during this time...even after I missed many months of Bible study. God used this time to show me that it was true, Christian friendship that mattered and not whether or not we were married or single. Not once had they said I shouldn't be a part of the group; I completely made that assumption on my own. They are such a dear group of people in my life; they are incredible friends and Sisters in Christ. I love each one of them and that won't change if or when God's plan changes for them. One more note: I married at age 37 and I'll never forget the most difficult question that was asked of me during pre-marriage counseling. Our pastor asked us: "What five things will you gain in marriage that you haven't had being single?" I had two weeks to ponder this question and still could only come up with two things that would be different (I'll let the reader figure out what these are). At that moment, I couldn't help but praise God for the beautiful life He had given me when I was single. I couldn't help but praise Him for allowing me to experience joy during those years (even with all of the comments heard from others as you listed in this blog). I had plenty of moments of sadness during my single years, but who doesn't? I also experienced many more moments of complete joy. So, I thank you, Erin, for sharing these great thoughts. And to the women in my Bible Study...I love you all and am so grateful to have you in my life!

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