If you’re a regular reader of my blog, I hope you’ve enjoyed the videos from [former] EPM staffer Julia (Stager) Mayo we’ve shared so far. Julia’s video blog today is on the topic of singleness and the church. I encourage everyone, single or married, to listen to her insights and wise advice. I found this very helpful for me personally.
One thing I love about the church today is how highly we value marriage—as we should. Marriage is designed by God and can be amazing and beautiful. But sometimes, when we highly value marriage, it can make those of us who are single feel somewhat marginalized (which I can only imagine is the last thing a pastor or church leaders would want to do!).
I’ve always felt encouraged by how singleness is addressed from the pulpit. I hear how, being single, I have the opportunity to love and serve God in a way that’s undivided and different from how I can do it when I’m married.
But things get a little more challenging in the foyer. It’s there I hear things like, “So, have you started dating anyone?” Or, “Whatever happened with you and that guy?” Or, “You’re so great. I can’t believe you’re not married!” These questions, though well-meaning, can come across as invalidating my singleness or as insinuating that the only goal of singleness is to end it.
I love coming to church and serving and worshipping and fellowshipping. Part of the reason why I love it is because it is an emotionally safe and encouraging place. But when I get asked those questions, church is no longer that place of emotional safety for me. It’s not that those are bad questions; it’s just that Sundays may not be the best time and place to be asking those sorts of things.
So how can others in the church body minister to those who are single?
Simply get to know us. One of the hard things about being single is that although we have a lot of freedom, we often struggle with feeling lonely. I would encourage you to ask a single person out to dinner or coffee. I know we can be hard to get to know sometimes, and we’re notorious for coming to church and then immediately leaving. But that’s probably in part because it is uncomfortable to stay when we feel out of place.
It is so appreciated when someone takes the initiative to spend time with us. I’m sorry that we can be hard to get to know. That’s definitely something we as single people need to work on—we need to be engaging in conversations and getting to know you, just as we’d like you to get to know us.
Encourage us. When you see me serving in ways you appreciate, please let me know. I can’t overstate the importance of encouragement in a single person’s life, because often we don’t have other people telling us those things.
Help us remember that God is at work in our lives. One thing that greatly encourages me is when people I know and respect assure me that they are also trusting God for my future. It can be hard enough for me to reconcile myself to my singleness. But when I feel like you’re not reconciled to it, it makes me feel bad that I’ve made you feel bad (about my singleness).
It really goes a long way when you help me remember—as I also try to remind myself—that God is working through this season in my life for His glory, just as He’s working through you in your season of life for His glory.
It’s not about whether we’re single or married, but about whether we’re serving and loving God, and serving and loving other people, and trusting in Christ for our reconciliation.
And so, until the day when we’re wholly satisfied in the ultimate marriage between Christ and His bride, let us strive together to serve, honor, and love one another in whatever season God has us.