Apr 21, 2013

The Single Journey [Guest Post by Rebecca]

Rebecca from Caravan Sonnet is a 30-something, PhD student who has some thoughtful words on being a single Christian women. 


Hi y’all! My name is Rebecca and I blog over at Caravan Sonnet. I am so delighted to be here today to share a little bit about a subject near and dear to my heart: the topic of singleness. I am a thirty-something single gal who loves Jesus so as I write this I am not only sharing information but also part of my heart. To be honest this is a topic that my shy little heart always thought that I would avoid on my blog. But as I started blogging I realized that there were many people who like myself, were single and while longed to be married were enjoying life but that "got it" with how difficult the single journey life can be.

For seven years I had one of my dream jobs: being a high school teacher. I LOVED it. I have so many cherished memories. The last two years I taught a class called "Noble Beauty" where 12th grade girls and I got to explore life as a Christian woman. D.E.L.I.G.H.T.F.U.L. One afternoon though everything changed in my thought process about my ability to have an impact. Shortly after a particularly long day of feeling that all of my hard work was a waste and we could have all stayed home (*smiles*) I made my way to the bathroom to gather a few precious moments to myself before I had to report for after school duty. As I was standing there pacing in the back area trying to gather strength and "the face" for afternoon duty I was startled to realize that a conversation that was taking place in another section of the restroom was about me. "I agree honey, bless her heart, she is a wonderful person" {I smiled...thank you kind mom!} "And she is very pretty and funny {aww... this mom is the best!} "But..." {my head snapped up- there's a but?} you don't really want to have her life do you? I mean do you really want to be an old maid and have no prospects of a man and end up all alone?" There was more but their voices drifted as they left the restroom and I stood there with my mouth open. I was shell shocked... this mother had just praised me a week before for my effort as a teacher and told me that I was a wonderful role model for her daughter. Apparently I was also an old maid.

Despite being a woman who is madly in love with her Savior I have found that the American church often does not know how to handle the singles who are in their churches that are over the age of twenty-five. In my experience it is the rare church that knows how to lovingly involve singles into the community. To address the need that while we long to be married and would love to meet a spouse we also want to feel completely apart of a church even if they don't offer a singles group.

Several years ago I learned that a co-worker of mine's wife was actively involved in the women's ministry at the church that I was attending. Having moved recently and not knowing many people, I was eager to find fellowship with other sisters on this journey. My theory then and as always been that everyone has something that they are dealing with and while we might not be able to understand it we can support and encourage one another on our journeys. One day at lunch I eagerly asked my co-worker if I could have his wife's contact information because I wanted to get involved in the women's ministry. I explained I would love to talk with her since I didn't know anyone else in the women's ministry. He got a strange look on his face, which might have deterred a wiser woman, but I naively kept pushing ahead in my quest to find good fellowship. His look on his face had grown more withdrawn and into a look of a parent scolding a young child and as I stopped to take a breath he interrupted with: "I have heard that xyz church has a very active singles ministry - you should look into that church." I was dumbfounded. I reminded him (from a previous conversation) that while xyz church did have an active singles ministry I was eager to get involved in our church several months ago. He looked at me and I will never forget what he said: "This is a family church. I just don't think this is the church for you. You need to find a church that has more people like you." I remember being mortified and making some excuse of why I needed to leave the room and made my way to a restroom where I promptly burst into tears. The thing that I felt in that moment was what a lot of singles experience: feeling completely alone and not whole because we are an "I" instead of an "us".

In many Christian singles books that are available we are told to live fully, use our single years with gladness, and to immerse ourselves into something greater than ourselves. On one hand I have a slightly difficult time with the fact that many of these Christian authors met and married their spouses before the age of 22 and are telling us how to live - but that is a discussion for another day. On the other hand, I would agree to an extent. In the context of throwing ourselves into our relationship with the Lord -a definite yes. Throwing ourselves into the latest cause for the sake of throwing our selves into a cause is not what I see scripture telling us to do. This is an unfortunate lie that many single Christians unfortunately come away feeling heartbroken and tired. I have even seen some good friends who have walked away from the church completely because they are burned out.

How do we as singles navigate the single journey with our hearts longing for our other half? How do we live fully while we long for a future day? I guess this blogger is going to explore the topic. *smiles*

24 comments:

  1. Keep living life to the full for Him, be a complete YOU and do not compromise yourself for a man who puts anything before Jesus (not even you). It is hard to be - fill in the blank with whatever - when we don't put God first. I am encouraged by your sharing and would be blessed to have a single woman like you in our church's FAMILY ministry.

    Who you are to Him is most important.

    Great post!
    Regina

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  2. Thank you so much for letting me share! Regina, thank you soo much for your kind and thoughtful words!
    :) Rebecca

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  3. Thank you for handling this topic in such a sensitive and refreshing way, and for being willing to share your story of trying to plug in to that church, and the man's shocking response to you. I believe you raise a valid question. What IS the single girl (or guy) supposed to do? I for one (30 and single and happily in love with Jesus!) don't really have an appetite for "singles' groups," but I agree with you that "throwing ourselves into the latest cause for the sake of throwing our selves into a cause" is not necessarily the answer, either. Someone who IS single needs to write a good singleness book. In the meantime, let us seek the Lord for His answers, pursue Jesus with all our hearts, and walk in faith and obedience, loving those around us and being an instrument of grace and life as God allows.
    -Rebekah (http://pursuedandconquered.blogspot.com)

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    1. SO thrilled to have connected with you Rebekah!! :)

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  4. This is a great post! Thank you so much for sharing! As a single 30-something woman, I completely identify with your words.

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    1. Thanks so much Brooke! I just emailed you! :) Delighted to have found your blog and connect with you!
      :) Rebecca

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  5. Thanks for sharing. I'm encouraged to know there are others out here in the single educated christian world like me. May we continue to live a life of excellence and grace.

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet words! :) So lovely to have discovered your blog and to be your newest follower!! :)
      Rebecca :)

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  6. Thank you for sharing, Rebecca! As a 30-something single myself, I fully identify with your struggle and the epic fail of the Church to minister to singles. I have been frustrated for a long time because I so often hear from the pulpit, "While many of you are single, most of you will one day be married, so this lesson about marriage/parenthood applies to you too." I desperately want to be taught where I'm at now, not treated as if my life hasn't begun yet. Though extended singleness is hard, it's not impossible to live a life of contentment, joy, and peace.

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    1. OMG OMG OMG......I cringe everytime a minister prefaces their sermon with that! lol Thought I was the only one.

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    2. @ navigatingsolo.

      I've written two or three blog posts about that very topic at my blog. You're right, it's common, and preachers need to stop doing it.

      One of the blog posts about it at my blog is,
      "The Obligatory, “Oh, but if you’re single you can still benefit from my marriage sermon” line"

      Other blog post titles from my blog that are related:

      -Part 1. The World Does Not Need More Marriage Sermons – They Don’t Stop Divorce or Get People Married

      -The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

      - If your sermon or program supposedly benefits everyone… (post about Christian singlehood)

      I discuss other pertinent topics at my blog, like how most of Christian culture esteems marriage (to the point they have turned marriage and family into an idol) and makes you feel horrible for being single, but when you, the single, admit to wanting to get married, the same person who esteems marriage lectures you to "be content in your singleness" because you are supposedly "making an idol out of marriage."

      There's a lot of "double speak," hypocrisy, and double standards in Christian culture about marriage/ dating/ gender roles/ singleness like that - you are supposed to want marriage, but not want it, simultaneously.

      Unmarried, adult Christians get chewed out and criticized by big names in Christian culture (eg, SBC Al Mohler) for not being married by our mid 20s, but if we say we do want to get married, we get told that Jesus should be sufficient for all our needs, we are being worldly or selfish for desiring or pursing marriage.

      Lots of hypocrisy going on in Christian culture.

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    3. I think that those big names like Al Mohler are just admonishing people for not getting married when they are in a position where they can actually choose to marry someone. I don't think that he and those big names are criticizing people who don't have the opportunity or have been rejected. I also think that people - including Christians - are more preoccupied with themselves and what they have going on around them than focusing on slinging mud at single Christians and ignoring them. If somebody is going to criticize a single person for being single, that somebody has a problem, not the single person. Unfortunately, we are not promised fulfillment in this lifetime, so protracted singleness is something that has happened to people and will continue to happen. The Christian culture just needs to realize that they need to do a better job of addressing the complex needs of people who undergo protracted singleness.

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing your blog. I too am single almost 30 christian woman. My interest right now is to have a close a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

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  8. I really enjoyed this post. I am a single, divorced mom, and was asked by my pastor today to lead a two part class on faithfulness and singleness during our fall program at church. While he helps me look for resources, I will look as well, and will definitely be visiting here again to keep in touch with your insights. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. God bless you!

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  9. I really enjoyed this post. I am a single, divorced mom, and was asked by my pastor today to lead a two part class on faithfulness and singleness during our fall program at church. While he helps me look for resources, I will look as well, and will definitely be visiting here again to keep in touch with your insights. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. God bless you!

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  10. I really enjoyed this post. I am a single, divorced mom, and was asked by my pastor today to lead a two part class on faithfulness and singleness during our fall program at church. While he helps me look for resources, I will look as well, and will definitely be visiting here again to keep in touch with your insights. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. God bless you!

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  11. This is a GREAT post! Thank You so much for your honesty and sharing your heart with us. I too, am a 30+ year old single woman and can surely identify with you. And I love navigatingsolo's comment above. God has joy, contentment and fulfillment in EVERY season of our lives!

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  12. That co-worker seems to have issues with his social skills. The unsolicited advice he gave to you about what church you should attend says a lot about him. I hear a lot about single folks getting burned out and leaving church because it is not always fun to attend church and to see your friends get paired off and see families growing. It is especially hard when you have experienced a season of "no's" and "I only like you as a friend" multiple times and seen women who are quieter and more sweet natured experience the rewards of a Christian marriage. What helps me as a single 33 year old Christian woman is socializing with various kinds of people outside of my church in addition to being actively involved in my home church. If I only had church as my main conduit for my social life, I would probably have just hopped from one church to another. I always just remind myself of the opportunities I have to learn and to serve whenever I hit a low point and with God's help, I have developed a thicker skin so my faith won't be shaken to pieces in the midst of a social religious community that doesn't quite fit me.

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  13. This is a topic close to heart, as I am also single and in my late 30's. It's also my dilemma in church, for lack of small groups that have singles in the in between years (not young adult anymore, and not yet senior citizens). What your co-worker said about finding another church is just sad. Fortunately, I have not been told that kind of thing. Still, I am yearning to have a small group that I could relate well with.

    I have yet to read a book about singles that is authored by a true blue single person. But all they ever say is that they were once single, prepared themselves for the right mate...and so on...

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    1. Wilderness Skills for Women: How to Survive Heartbreak and Other Full-Blown Meltdowns. The author is a single female in her thirties. Great read!

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  14. I feel you ladies, I always feel like my plight is worse lol. I'm a single mother. Pastors are not sure how to treat us and our children. Sometimes I feel like telling someone that just because my 'sin' is obvious to the world I'm no worse than you. God will use even me. Sindi,South Africa

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  15. Last year I co-led a class at church about singleness. Later in the year I led a class on living in the world, using Jesus's "salt and light" message. The two topics seem connected.

    If we think of the world as bad & "worldly", then churches will tend to teach that people should be safely enveloped in a nuclear family. If we focus on the world as God's creation, then we can be engaged in the world in a way that sustains us -- enjoying nature, gardens, cities, music, art, creativity, sustainable living, and lots of other things that nurture and sustain the spirit, in addition to traditional church-connected service.

    This way of living - engaged in all aspects of God's work - is much more sustainable for a Christian single as well as for marriage, parenting, empty-nesters and all other life situations.

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  16. I am also single, and understand what you are talking about. I feel like often times now that I am almost 25 couples in the church feel strange hanging around me, and there are not many single people around my age. I have found that serving the Lord has given me satisfaction however. As I find as many opportunities to keep myself busy in the church rather than feel sorry that I am not married yet. Especially working with the children and teens of the church they don't care that I am single, in fact they think it is cool and want to come over to my house. They give me great joy when I can sit down and talk to them and they listen to what I have to say.

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  17. Hi Rebecca, I was shocked to hear about people saying those things --especially the man saying you should go to another church! That's terrible! But it probably happens more often than people realize. Ugh. I am so sorry. I hope that, as Papa continues to make His people more like Jesus, we will abandon stuff like that. Forget what the haters say, and operate where you are called! Hugs!

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