Recently, Debra K. Fileta wrote two great articles for Relevant Magazine in regards to singles and the church. Excerpts from the articles are below, and they are well worth the time (and effort) to read them. Single people in the church need to be supported, equipped, loved-on, and accepted equally just as any married couple. Sure, a single person’s “lifestyle” may be different from a married couple, but they are still a person, created in God’s image, who desires community just like every other person.
The problem is that good intentions don’t always translate into good communication. It’s important for those who are married to remember the struggles that come with being single and do their best to walk away from an interaction with a single leaving them feeling helped, not hurt. So the next time you interact with someone who is flying solo, here are some things to make sure stay out of your conversation:
“You’re Married to Jesus!” I’m amazed that people actually say this stuff. But according to the emails I get from singles across the nation—it’s a phrase that is being uttered to single men and women and is causing some major damage.
The problem with this idea is that it leaves singles with a whole lot of guilt that they were never intended to feel. When singles are asked to be okay with being “married to Jesus” it makes them view their desire for marriage as a sign that they aren’t okay with Jesus. It makes them feel unholy and unrighteous. It makes them question their faith and spirituality.
“Singleness is a gift!” I have to admit, this was the one I most disliked hearing as a single. For all the struggles that came with singleness, it was really hard to see it as a blessing, much less a gift! Like one of my readers put it, “If singleness is a gift, I am holding on to the receipt because I plan on returning it.” Many people echo the same thing.
Singleness may be a “gift,” but, according to Scriptures, so is marriage! I know so many young people who are afraid they will be given the “gift” of singleness without their approval. Sure, the season of singleness can be a really special time of undistracted focus to God and to others—but when it comes to living a permanently single life, I believe that is a special calling that a person chooses to take on as a direct leading of the Holy Spirit.
“You won’t meet your spouse until you stop looking.” If this line were true, I probably would have been single into my 80s. When you’re single, the truth is that for most people, finding love is a topic that always seems to be on your mind in some way … Rather than try to make singles forget about their singleness, we need to challenge them to keep it in mind, yet not allow it to cause them to lose sight of all else. Embracing singleness has nothing to do with forgetting the destination toward marriage and everything to do with enjoying the ride. You can keep looking for a spouse, but ultimately, you should be looking for that and so much more. Life is filled with purpose, passion, goals and dreams—and finding a spouse is just one part of an incredible story that God has called you to live. Seek to fix your eyes on all that, and you will have very little regret.
Validate Them. From all the feedback I gathered from single young men and women across the country, one thing stood out to me more than the all rest: People need validation. There is so much truth in that statement whether a person is married, single or somewhere in between. As humans, we long to be validated—to be looked upon as though we are worthy and valuable, as though our lives have meaning. Sadly, and no thanks to our society at large, many times this value gets attached to our relationship status. Those who find themselves standing alone end up feeling less than the others in some way, shape or form.
Of all the phrases uttered to single young men and women, most of them are a reminder of what they do not have—rather than a spotlight on who they are. One of the most important ways we can love singles is reminding them that they are special and that we (the world around them) have taken notice.
Invite Them. We’ve all been there—the moment you realize that someone has just been dubbed the “third wheel.” As a married woman, I myself have found myself struggling with this issue—not wanting my single friends to feel like a third wheel around my husband and I. So instead of facing what could be an awkward situation, most people avoid it. If I’m completely honest, I believe that dealing with singles in this way is a tactic straight from the pit of hell. The enemy longs for us to feel alone and outside of community, and the way this happens within the Church is when people go off two by two, forgetting that those who aren’t in “a relationship” are still part of this valuable community called the body of Christ. One of the best ways you can love on your single friends is by inviting them into your homes and embracing them into your worlds. Don’t let your personal fear of them feeling like “a third wheel” rob them of the chance to accept an invitation to invest in your life and you in theirs. Leave that choice up to them. Open your hearts by opening your homes and being a place that reflects the love of Jesus to all who enter—no matter their relationship status.
Engage with Them. I think there is a natural tendency to try and make conversation with singles by talking about their singleness. “So, you seeing anyone?” “How’s the love life going these days?” While there is a time and place for these conversations (trust me, I’m all about this when the timing is right!) I think it’s crucial to make it a point to go above and beyond with our conversations by focusing on the bigger picture. Ask them what God is doing in their lives and share with them what He’s doing in yours. Tell them about your struggles and trials, and ask how you can be praying for them. Share with them your heart, and then allow them to take the lead in sharing theirs. Do them the favor of remembering that they are people who are not defined by their relationship status, but rather by the One whom they are ultimately in relationship with: Jesus.