I was really entertained when I heard a great message on singleness last night. The title, I thought, was "single and lonely?" but I would have renamed it "an introduction to approaching singleness" because I felt like it only scratched the surface.
The speaker did a great job of approaching the topic with humour and humanity. But I felt the message was aimed at people between the age of 18 and 25. He maintained that if you are single you can focus on eternity and our future in God, which is very true. I totally agree.
And you can do that for a few years.
And it's good.
But what about after 40 and still single...having done all those things.
Single and lonely? I would have liked to hear that message.
I couldn't help looking around and seeing so many older singles in our church who are still looking for a partner and thinking he didn't really address their concerns-- our concerns.
Maybe the topic is just too big. And besides...who wants to talk about the desperation of a single person approaching mid-life and thinking "will I always be alone..???" and the disappointment of realizing life isn't turning out the way I thought it would. It's easy to be optimistic in your 20's and thinking "I still have time,"and then approaching 30's and thinking "it will turn out right somehow, hang on to hope!" and then entering your 40's thinking "what's wrong with me???"
I'm not one of those women who ever focused on marriage as a young person. I was definitely living for the future and thinking of what I could do for the kingdom. I used to get impatient with women in their 20's who were desperate to get married. I was living my life and pursuing my dreams and definitely not waiting for a man to fill that space. If he came along, great--but I wasn't waiting around.
But what about the men and women just like me who focused on eternity in their 20's and 30's and still find themselves wondering what the next 20 or 30 years are going to look like if they never get married...? It's a sobering thought. The kind that could make you cry yourself to sleep at night if you dwell on it too long.
It's not something we talk about much in the church and yet I can tell you the truth---I know it's on our minds. And from the many profiles I see on Christian dating sites from my own church... I know that not everyone is thinking their singleness is this great gift from God to focus on eternity.
There is real pain here.
Because for all Paul's assertions that "it is good for them(unmarried people) if they remain even as I. (1 Cor 7:8) we have to go back to what God originally intended.
It is not good for the man to be alone...(Gen. 2:18)
So in case you're thinking you're going crazy in your singleness...TAKE HEART. God never intended us to be alone. He designed marriage and the truth is...very few of us are called to be single.
When I have heard speakers talk about this in YWAM, they have often said "there are a lot of disobedient men out there..." because let's face it-- there are more single women than men. And when you join YWAM, the numbers of gorgeous, spirit-filled, vibrant and strong women out there increases ten times--and too many of them single.
And then we ask the question "where are the men??"
But let me get back to my point. Regardless of how I struggle with this issue, the truth remains that God is able to make all grace abound to us. And what I mean by that... is that He can give the strength and ability to face any situation, no matter how abnormal or unnatural--and I believe that singleness is not God's intention for most of us. It feels really abnormal and unnatural because I don't believe it's what God wanted for us--and yet here we are--struggling through life in all its imperfections.
So in the midst of it all...this is my confession of faith:
God can meet us even here.
Here in my loneliness, God is greater. Here in my 'unnatural state' (smile)-- God is at my side.
God is still the God of the impossible.
So I want to hang on HOPE and keep speaking the truth of who God is. I have met so many older women who gave up at some point. They left their desire to be married with God and got on with life but they stopped praying into this area.
Seek and you will find...knock and the door will be opened...
I think there is something to be said for perseverance... not desperation, but perseverance...
I don't want to stop asking God for something good I believe He has for me. I want to feed myself on the amazing possibilities and the greatness of God. I've started praying more fervently in this area with a friend. I'm not giving up. I'm asking, seeking and knocking. Are you? I'm not talking about murmuring, grumbling or complaining :) That's different!
Meanwhile, I need to work on my relational circle.
This was another issue the speaker brought up last night--this fact that singles wouldn't be so lonely if there were better relationships happening around them-- more of a community in churches. I have coffee with married women but I am rarely invited into families... maybe people don't realize I need family, too. I have to work on making my needs known because people rarely see me as a needy person.
Maybe it's more poignant for me being far away from my home country, my home town and any family. Most people in this city haven't known me longer than three years. I can't tell you how embarrassing it can be for me to invite myself over for holidays but sometimes I can't bear spending it alone. Everyone else who is single goes home on holidays and weekends. I can't exactly nip back to California for Easter...makes it more challenging!
The thing is we do have an aging population of single people in our churches. There's no getting around it. I would love to hear a message addressing this audience specifically. In the meantime, these are some of my honest thoughts and struggles.
Come on single friends! Let's not give up.