Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Little Encouragement and Coaching....

I love the body of Christ. There’s nothing more beautiful and yet painful than living in community. Just ask my past roommates. I made a statement to a friend this past summer as I was living in a 1 bedroom apartment with three other people, “Everything in the world is coming out of me.” Call it sin or maybe it was the fact that we are in our 30’s sleeping in bunk beds, I don’t know. So I have been feeling this post coming on for a couple of years now and was inspired to go ahead and write it, even at the expense of being misunderstood. How should the Church interact with those of us who are unattached (aka: SINGLE)? I realize we could all post something on here about how we could respond to mom’s, married without kid’s, the elderly, divorcee’s, widows, but because I am unattached, I feel a little more qualified to share my angle with the hope that it will be an encouragement.


While I am unattached at the moment (okay, so I looked up “single” in the thesaurus and it is way depressing – words like “solitary, on its own, lone, solo, only” came up), I wanted to document a few common ways of relating that we unattached people have to deal with weekly.

1. When making announcements at church for the big picnic, instead of saying, “Every family bring a dish”, you could rephrase it to, “Everyone come to the picnic and bring your favorite dish.” It really is the small things that we appreciate.

2. There are two churches that I loved, but I did not go back because you are invited to come to the front “as a family” and take communion. Well, let’s be honest, when visiting a church for the first time I felt….let’s see, how do I say this? NAKED. Please don’t get me wrong, this was/is a beautiful thing, just makes it really difficult to know what to do in that moment.

3. If you are curious about someone’s single status just ask them, “Do you want to be married or do you like the single life?” or my personal favorite, “Is it hard to meet men who aren’t socially awkward and don’t wear white socks with black shoes?”

4. Whatever you do, please do not say, “When you stop looking for him, that’s when you will find him.” That doesn’t even make sense. Am I supposed to go blind? Walk around with my head down? Also avoid, “When I finally became content (at the age of 21) that’s when God brought McDreamy into my life.” I love that I just did spell-check on “McDreamy” and the option was “Creamy”.

5. Thank you for praying for us, cheering us on, and empathizing with us that dating is exhausting. Thank you for listening to our same prayer requests for years on end. On a side note, I’d love to write a blog on “unspoken prayer requests”.

6. If you want to set up your single friend, would you please think through their personalities, calling, and interests? Setting us up because I am the one single girl you know and he is the one single guy you know does not a match make. We love that you are even thinking of us, but I have a nightmare story on this one. It involves my mother, large gold chain, Beavis and Butthead, an election year, and an ex-body builder. ‘Nuf said.

7. Thank you for being honest about the struggles in your own life and saying, “Sometimes it would be nice to be single.” It helps all of us with our perspective. The grass is not always greener.

8. When inviting us to your wedding, it is so kind to allow us the courtesy of bringing a date. Not that I would, but just the option shows such empathy and that you value our friendship over your budget. Heck, I’ll give you $27.50 in order to bring someone, or tell him not to eat.

9. After you are married, would you remember what it was like being single and not talk to us as if we are still sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving?

10. Thank you so much for the times you include us in your family activities and treat us like family. I love the scripture Psalm 68:6, “God sets the lonely in families…”

11. Please keep telling us how great we are and that some guy is an idiot for not snatching us up. 

Hope this is helpful. I really mean it with as much kindness as I can extend through a blog to the 8 people who might read it. Pass it on if you feel like it might help those who really want to encourage those of us walking this road “solo”.

18 comments:

sarahe said...

i think those are great things to keep in mind, and thanks for sharing your perspective in this. though i'm married, there is a similar attitude towards the "married for a few years but not looking to start a family yet" group which has caused isolation for me at churches and within the body of Christ. i honestly feel like i relate better with the single ladies and am more likely to spend time with them than the married w/kids set. i think it's hard b/c in the church and Christianity in general, it's as if being married with kids is next to godliness, and is something that we should all aspire to. well...sometimes i think people talk it up & put the pressure on us so much just because they don't want to be the only ones stressed out and miserable...not that married w/kids is not wonderful, but it's hard. so that's my 2 cents. thanks for this post!

steph kozick said...

this is sooo great! I had my 'write' about this in a newsletter to my supporters once :) This was all very well put. One more thing I would add to the comments about 'weddings' is PLEASE PLEASE respect our decision to NOT participate in the bouquet toss if we so choose. Pointing at us and chanting our name in order to motivate us to the center of the room with all the 15 to 20 yr old girls only makes us want to pack up and go home!

Kelly said...

Thanks Beth for this perspective. I appreciate reading it, because I really want to know how to relate well with my single friends, and not just hang out with them when my husband is out of town. I'll be honest, it's a tough balance. Tougher than I thought. It's almost as if I'll sit at home alone, knowing that I could call up some friends, but just don't want to hear the reactionary tales that Kelly only hangs out with us when Jeremy is out of town, because it's just not true! Although somehow is amplified. So although, it's hard to be single (I get it) it's also hard to not make a single bitter just by simply being married (from experience.) And, I'm willing to learn, I want to keep my single friends, love them, and not set them up with anyone I know that's single. So, teach me. Please.

Michelle said...

I like this a lot!! Good insight! And I am eager to read what might come of a post about "unspoken prayer requests."

DL said...

You're the best. Can we hang out?
Love, DL

DL said...

Can I also point out that I had to type the word "hornmus" to be allowed to post my last comment? Ha.
DL

kristinwithani said...

Love the edits and the final post. Pride in my heart!

And... sarahe... I've heard that from so many friends who are married w/o children. I always say that category is the "forgotten people" at church and even in our ministry. Thank you for the reminder and perspective.

Kelly, thank you for being honest about the balance.

Sara and Wade said...

You're wonderful and thanks for posting this, Beth! When I saw that creepy picture at the top of this post, I immediately thought of the really, really strange weirdo you went out with once and then, ta-da, you mentioned him in point #6, ha!! But, really, thanks for posting this because, as funny as it is, I feel like I can be isolated from people people because I am married with kids...like, my single friends could care less about hanging out with me because I have a wild 1 year old I have to lug around and another baby on the way and, therefore, I can't go to dinner or to a movie on a moment's notice or without at least a few days heads-up, or go away for a weekend at the beach, etc. I sometimes feel like I don't have anything to offer, other than tips on changing diapers or getting your baby to eat vegetables. Sigh. Anyway, I think that without placing your identity in Christ alone (something YOU taught me over and over again at UT), anyone, in any relationship status, can easily feel lonely or overlooked. Thanks again for this great post and reminder to always include everyone, no matter what:) I added a link on my blog to your blog too, ps:)

Beth said...

wow!! all of you are so encouraging and yet challenging me in getting outside my own shell and really ask more details about your experience. i invite you to email me or fbook message me more of your experiences and struggles to help me understand how i can care for you well!!

Melanie said...

very helpful now to the 9 people reading it!!!! :)

You are SO funny but SO right on point! Good for you for saying these things that many others want to say AND that many married folks (like me) need to hear! Honestly, you said this with such humor and with such a sweet spirit, but it really made me think about how I treat single people. Thank you!

Looking forward to reading more! So happy to find your blog today!
Melanie
~ melscoffeebreak.blogspot.com ~

Frankie said...

My favorite thing about this is the picture at the top.

May I offer some hope to the other single ladies? I've found this phenomenon is GREATLY reduced when you get a little further north! Though I love Knox Vegas, one of my least favorite things about it was being made to feel like a failure and/or old maid at the ripe old age of 23 (?!). Singles church felt like a meat market where you were expected to Noah's ark it ASAP or move onto the next ministry. Up here in DC, people think it's a little weird for anyone under 27 to be married. Not that they are right, but it does take A LOT of the pressure off, because the ministries are a really great blend of singles, engageds, marrieds, and married with kids. Everyone in one age bracket (20-35 in my church) is grouped together and it is really great to enjoy the body from this angle.

Anyways, just wanted to encourage everyone that I have seen the body simultaneously handle singles and marrieds together with great balance- it can be done and it's tremendously edifying for everyone!

Teronya Holmes said...

loved this! By the way, you ARE great, and some guys IS an idiot for not snatching you up! :)

Ami Burr said...

I like the reminder that you cannot judge and love at the same time...married, single or married w/children.:) I always feel loved by you, Beth ~ even as a mom of five!! xoxoxo

Pam Archer said...

I'm proud of you, regardless of your marital status. I would like to have you speak to Women's Ministry about this and invite our singles to come, too. I want to know ways to make them feel welcome and included. Any ideas from any of you all would be welcomed.

I love you! I personally know several men that should have snatched you up, but so glad they didn't, because they were undeserving of you!

sherree said...

I love you Beth!!!
And what you say is true, and I like what Ami said. We all are very different places, but it shouldn't mean we can't all learn to love a lot better. He calls to always go outside of ourselves.

Vicki S said...

Beth - I can relate to what you're saying. A couple of years ago one of the local churches asked me to present a talk/sermon on Christian singles and I put together my experiences of the last 24 years and made it both humorous and thought-provoking. Afterwards a number of marrieds expressed surprise about the reactions we singles get from the church and married people. In addition I could see the singles in the crowd agreeing with me about the issues.

Thanks for your honesty. I'll have to write down some of the talk I presented into my own blog one of these days.

Rachel said...

Love it!

Rachel said...

P.S. I think #4 is my favorite. When people say that I want to turn and walk away from the conversation, feeling that they really must not understand who I am and what I want out of life. And I'm offended that they think I'm not content with my life.

Post a Comment