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I’ve had an interesting revelation lately. When I’m injured, I’m reminded I am single. Natural correlation, right?
Injured tailbone, foot, and now shoulder. Back-to-back-to-back. Everything was bearable but enough pain to keep me from biking much at all this summer. And sitting? Couldn’t do much of that for a month.
As I was walking to church in a sling a couple Sundays ago, I started thinking about how I want to remember this feeling of “not having any help.” Sure, I have tons of wonderful friends (thanks, Lisa, for doing my laundry and being my chauffer), but the idea of having a spouse nearby led me to imagine marriage in a very romanticized way as I walked through the rain.
Then I stopped dreaming and heard the voices of married people saying, “My spouse works so late every night that it feels like I’m alone!” or “They’re so busy with the children that I couldn’t get help even if I asked.”
OK, so maybe that’s true for some people, but it’s hard for me to imagine that if your arm was in a sling and you asked for help getting your shoes on, your husband or wife would look at you and say, “NO!”
Most people aren’t evil.
So I wanted to tell my married friends this: Make sure you say thank-you for the little things your spouse does. The things you are so used to that you have come to expect them. Think about what you wouldn’t have if you were single and pray for a spirit of gratitude. Then express that gratitude.
What could it hurt?
Many of us idealize what the other has.
Single people’s lonely days can often be filled with dreams about having the support and affection of a spouse, and married people’s lonely days can often be filled with dreams of an idealized independence that their single friends get to chase.
And we miss it.
So, as I walked into church that Sunday with “missing it” on the brain, I sat down (alone) on the back pew, rested my braced arm at my side, and looked up to see the topic of the sermon on a large screen:
The sermon wasn’t just on marriage. It was on singleness, sexuality, and parenting too. Pastor Rick pointed out how wrestling with these areas is where we learn about the gospel.
Rick asks, “Do we trust that He knows what He’s doing? Can we trust God with our disappointment? Our fear? Our sin?”
I’ve listened to the sermon twice now, and it continues to give me insight and a beautiful perspective. If you are a believer or have an interest in a believer’s hope, listen to this message, here: Click on the sermon from Oct. 2nd
“Oh yeah, Jacob. Where did Leah come from?!?” —God
“Are you abusing your singleness?”
“Can I trust God with my sexuality? With my disappointment? Can I believe that I am not here by accident or abandonment?”
“I’m so sick of playing Dr. Phil. Scripture is not just another tweet or an article you read in a magazine.”
“We don’t have to bow out in marriage.”
“Parents, you can’t keep your kids from sinning. They were born ready. Just like you.”
“You have to wrestle your way into the gospel to trust God’s sovereign love over the situation where you find yourself.”
That Sunday night as I got into bed, I felt comforted by the sermon and the day spent with my best friends. I closed my eyes as the ice pack cooled my shoulder.
Then I heard a noise.
Naturally, I pulled out the weapon I have next to my bed (I won’t reveal what it is, but, burglars, beware) and flipped on all the lights. If someone was there, they only needed to see what I was holding in my gimp arm and they would be OUT.
I made the rounds and got back into bed. I set the weapon on my nightstand next to my Bible and a few “I’ll read you eventually” books.
The fear of someone breaking in could have been another trigger for wondering where my husband was, but I felt peaceful in remembering Rick’s words that “God knows what He’s up to.”
And, in the meantime, He gives me weapons and an acute sixth sense.
Do you find yourself idealizing “what the other has?”
What prevents you from having peace with the stage (single or married) that you’re in?
PHOTO CREDIT: See Imago Dei website
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Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.
I had a similar revelation lately when I got sick a couple weeks ago. It wasn’t anything serious, just a 24 hour intestinal bug, but it laid me up pretty good for most of those 24 hours. No matter how sick I got though, I still had stuff to take care of around the duplex; make sure the cats were fed, watered and had their litter changed, drag myself out of bed to get a glass of water when I started getting dehydrated from all the sweating and…other stuff, etc. I thought about how nice it would be to have someone to take care of me when I felt this way and whom I could take care of when the situations were reversed.
I definitely idealize what I imagine marriage to be like (Double rainbows and unicorn rides WHENEVER I WANT!!11!1! Also, mindblowing sex. Every. Single. Time.), but the recent divorces of a couple of friends of mine that were in Christian marriages has disabused me of that notion somewhat (Still hoping for at least a single rainbow and maybe a ride on a narwhal on occasion. The sex is obviously a given.). On the flipside of that, I have far more examples of healthy Christian marriages to aspire to than I do negative ones. For some reason the negative ones just seem to pop out more.
I think the main things that prevents me from having peace with my singleness is having most of my single friends pair off and dwindle away until there are very few left and even fewer that are even remotely close to my age, and a grandmother who when I told her, “No, I’m not seeing anyone right now, Grandma.”, replied, “Well, I guess God doesn’t intend for everyone to get married.”. Then she sighed and looked away like I had just crushed her soul. Pretty sure there was a single tear as well. 🙂
@JOY, If I had said that to her, I probably would have gotten a lecture on how believing in mythical creatures is just a gateway that leads to Satan worship. Then she would have given me a forehead shove Benny Hinn-style and shouted, “The power of Christ compels you!”.
So to answer your question…no…no I did not tell her that. 😉
I can TOTALLY relate to this! It is times similar to this when I am made acutely aware of my singleness. Just a few weeks ago, my car broke down on the side of the road. I found myself thinking, “this would sure be a great time to have a boyfriend”. Not that I thought a boyfriend would be able to fix my car in the moment, but just someone to call. I too, have a great group of amazing friends, that helped (without me even asking) during that time and God used that situation to show me a lot of love. This isn’t something I’m frequently reminded of but rather, periodically. Especially when I have to put together a piece of IKEA furniture or figure out how to switch the TV over to the DVD player. However, I am thankful for this time and that God is using it to grow my strength of character. That was a great sermon and I think I’ll have to listen to it again! Appreciate your thoughts and honesty!
@Lindsay, I can totally relate. It’s weird how discouragement comes in the oddest ways. But like you said, if we can choose to see our singleness as a time to grow strength and character…then we will have that same mentality at any point in life when things get tough. Thank you!
“I think the main things that prevents me from having peace with my singleness is having most of my single friends pair off and dwindle away until there are very few left and even fewer that are even remotely close to my age, and a grandmother who when I told her, “No, I’m not seeing anyone right now, Grandma.”, replied, “Well, I guess God doesn’t intend for everyone to get married.”. Then she sighed and looked away like I had just crushed her soul. Pretty sure there was a single tear as well.”
As G Fresh said, I feel that way sometimes. I have friends who have started dating people, and I’m very happy for them ( one of them is now engaged ). But whats hard for me is that they have someone to be with at almost every given opportunity to where who is left for me to “just hang out” with as a friend. I have family members who ask me everytime they see me “So Erin, met anyone special yet?” And I always say back, “No.” And I explain that I am happy being single. But the fact is, they always bring it up, adding to their question that I should have been married by now and had kids because all their kids were already married before 21 and now have their own kids. God has a different love story for everyone. But I am often reminding myself that I have God. So sure. A lot of my friends have a boyfriend and thats who they spend their weekends with going on dates, but I’m learning right now how God is my sufficient one. And its okay. But I would still like to be asked out on a date. haha.
Ideals and expectations can be like taking a wiffle ball bat to God’s plans and *trying* to beat them to a bloody pulp.
This summer I learned that what stole my peace was my failure to see me the way God was seeing me.
Galations 6:3-5- 2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load.”
When I read Galations 6, I thought I wasn’t enough to handle the daily load I was tasked to bear, I saw it as an unmanageable load. Like you, Joy, I have had injury after injury this summer that has kept me mostly off my bike, unable to run and only able to swim. Well, until my bike crash that put me in a sling… anyway, I have a fantastic husband and two very small kids at home. He’s gone most of the time these days, because he works 50+ hours a week AND is carrying a full load of college. A part of the nature of what he does (he’s in the Army) is he’s gone. A lot. Its tricky trying to make sure both of our needs and wants are fulfilled to a healthy level when he is home. We can both turn in to a pit of “I need”. Sometimes I forget that I really do miss him, not just having another adult in the house. With this summer’s injuries, I was sad, I was lonely. My built-in prayer, alone time, work-out time was gone. I cried for help many occasions and sometimes I had it, other times not. Keeping the family going is a lot of work, but its way harder when I treat the life God blessed us with as an impossible task. I have a few particular family members who mean really well, but will constantly tell me ‘you can’t do this’. With every hick-up or occasion where my husband is gone, they want the kids and me to come stay with them long-term or they want to come stay with me (depends on the situation). I’ve heard everything from ‘You won’t let us help you’, ‘you are making life unnecessarily hard’, ‘you push yourself too hard’, etc. When I’ve accepted their ‘help’ when God’s already told me to handle it, it backfires in a bad way and usually my kids, husband and I really suffer for it. On the contrary, when I’ve really needed help, I’ve had friends, strangers, and even those family members step in and its been AMAZING. I don’t think I’m supermom, I don’t have anything to prove. But I do now, firmly believe that the life I’ve been given is the life I can handle. Where I saw myself as inept, unable, God saw someone who can do the tricky things in life through His enabling. He’s equipped me for this life! That’s a heck of a lot better than my silly expectations.
I have a small arsenal, and will use it if I HAVE to. =0)
Joy, this is a great post. I am the mom of a young adult daughter and two young children (not my plans but God’s 🙂 ). I listened to this sermon and it reinforced what I already know. My daughter has a deep desire to be married. I can pray for her, encourage her, be hopeful and share in her journey, but I can’t make it happen for her. Only God can do that, but I trust that He knows what He is doing. I’ve seen Him work over the years. For my daughter, He provided a full time job that she did not have any experience in and this was something I was trusting Him for (along with faithful prayer warriors that are also praying for her future husband). I really appreciated your pastor’s message as a mother of small children that God is in it with us. Although I know this, some days I forget.
One thing I think all people need to be sensitive to is that they are not minimizing another’s feelings, struggles or situation. Maybe we minimize the other’s pain because we are idealizing their situation. It’s easy as a single when my married friends complain to me about something to not be compassionate because I’m thinking at least you have someone. I also have felt that my pains and loneliness of singleness have been trivialized especially when people tell me that I should JUST be content and wait or I am told I am not trusting God by wanting to be married. I don’t know what it’s like to be married so I don’t know what it’s like to have a husband who works all the time or kids all over the place. But many married people don’t know what it’s like to come home to an empty house every night thinking about your eggs drying up and seeing your dreams slip away (like to have your grandparents at your wedding). I love how in the sermon he said we must “wrestle your way to trust in the situation that you find yourself.” It can be a struggle to trust at times and JUST telling people to buck up and trust without recognizing the struggle is insensitive and really isn’t much help or encouragement.
I LOVED this message. SO MUCH. Reading this post reminded me that going back and listening to it again would be a good idea.
I am DEFINITELY at fault when it comes to idealizing what my married friends have. Especially when, like you Joy, I am sick or injured or overwhelmed with the length of my to do list. I think, “if I were married, my husband could make me dinner / do this laundry / pick up groceries / sit lovingly by as I have an emotional breakdown.” Now, I know from conversations with friends that their spouses do all those things for them. I ALSO know that their spouses do NOT always swoop in and those things for them.
The grass is not greener, it is just different grass. And married grass requires mowing just as much as single grass does.
Thanks for sharing your heart. I love it.
I connect with this every time it’s time to weed or mow or clean my gutters.
And while growing up on a farm with a father who needed help with the animals and building projects and in the fields, and then growing up in the “anything you can do I can do better” generation have given me strong characteristics, I find myself craving for someone else to be the strong (emotionally, physically, spiritually) person in the relationship quite often. Sure I’ve got friends who I can go to who will lift me up, but I imagine and hope for a certain level of intimacy in a marriage that can’t be achieved on a friend or family level. Is that wrong?
Maybe my expectations for marriage are askew, and I can see how they would be being in the society that we’re in these days. I also think my family thinks my standards are too high since I’m the oldest single female they know. 😉
I really love this post. Can’t wait to go home and listen to the message. My prayer in life was and continues to be uncontented contentment. I want to enjoy where God has placed me but always be ready for the something more he’s calling me to, whether that’s in my work or family or marriage or the lack thereof.
Most of the time, I enjoy this season of being single. What I dislike most, though, is being left out because I do not have a significant other to do social activities with my friends and their sweeties.
Some friends vanish when they start dating someone. Some manage to squeeze in “hang out time” until wedding plans get busy. After the wedding, the happy couple moves or is busy spending time together, with their families, and with their “couple friends.”
@Abby, You know what’s awesome about this though? Is that when you are in these new seasons of dating, planning a wedding and being newly married – you will be very aware of your friends who are feeling left out.
Obviously we know it’s important for couples to have alone time – but I totally get you on the feeling of being “left out.”
Wow great post and the link to the PS. Enjoyed listening to pastor Rick’s series “Wrestling with God” -very rich! Nothing like sickness or injury and being alone to take us to that place of “Be still and know that I am God”. I remember when I had my appendectomy @ 29 as a single woman. The clock in the hospital room sounded like Big Ben gongs with it’s TICK TOCK TICK TOCK. Listening to that clock felt very surreal and made me want to get out of bed and start walking. Wrestlin’ w/ God… even if I walked bent over like the Hunchback of Norte-Dame with a limp dragging my IV stand with me in my hospital gown and fuzzy socks. HA!
Single, married or single again it is a wrestle. What I learned in my wrestling, I have a sprinter’s mentality and God is a marathon runner. He is teaching me to pace myself. He has to keep showing me all the ways not to quit in this race-whatever the stage. My impatience and lack of resourcefulness gets in my way.
I know Jesus has given me peace, not as the world gives and that my heart is not to be troubled, neither should I be afraid. (John 14:27) Learning how to infuse that gospel of peace into my being is the marathon. I desire to settle into that understanding with heart, mind, body and soul. My prayer is take me deeper Lord!
However, in the last 2 years, something new has been developing in my prayers and gospel walk…the desire to be in agreement with God is greater than the desire to fight and wrestle with Him. He is always right anyway…. so it’s better to streamline my energy, and align my will with His. Peace and contentment is growing with that too. 😉
The past two weeks I’ve been simultaneously dealing with some rather awful illness and saying goodbye to someone I thought was “THE ONE”.
It has not been a happy few weeks, but it has been beautifully broken. I was (still am?) really sick, and have not been able to get out and surround myself with friends like I normally would. I do have my parents taking care of me here, so I wasn’t alone physically, but still felt very alone. The guy who I thought was going to be there in times like this decided to bow out when I needed him the most.
And that sucks. A lot.
I have discovered that I have no other choice than to rest in the fact that God has this under control. I am sick and unable to be frantic about it. I do not have the energy to worry, but I don’t have to. Being drained physically and spending time alone has forced me to look up. To let Him be the lifter of my head. To hang on tight to His word. He is not going to say goodbye or choose not to love me anymore. I am being held very tightly by Someone who loves me fiercely, beyond what I can even comprehend.
And that is very exciting.
@Mandie, All I can say is that I am so deeply sorry. I don’t know your exact pain, but I’ve been there with you severe heart break. A future imagined and then told it won’t be a reality is something very hard to accept.
I believe in the supernatural and I believe, like you said, that you will be met. One day there will be answers, but until then I pray you find time to rest and sit in this pain with a hope for the future. I’m so sorry.
I idolize the married life when I have to make BIG, grown up decisions. Do I buy a house or continue to rent an apartment? Do I buy a four door car with room for a car seat or a sporty little coupe? (I split the difference with a little SUV).
And one time that I really idealize married people? When I’m sitting alone on a pew during Big Church. When I’m sitting all by myself and we get up to greet the people around me and I just stand there like a fool even though I know most of the people around me.
But I know I am called to this church, at this time, and so I just keep going.
Confession: that sunday when I sat down in the pew at Imago and started to hear what Pastor Rick was speaking about regarding marriage my heart grew bitter and frustrated at God for my singleness (and how it seems to always be in my face lately) —-so i walked out and hid until it was over (ironically enough in the bridal room). But my housemates and now you have encouraged me to re-listen to the sermon- Thanks Joy!!!
@Karrie, Wow – thank you for being honest about that! I really do pray you listen and hear whatever it is the Lord is trying to teach you.
I know for me, when pain seems to be in my face over and over, the most transformative times have been when I have looked directly back at that pain.
If we desire to be married someday, it’s SO important for us to glean as much wisdom and teaching as we can. Even though it may remind you of the pain of being single, I challenge you to see it all as preparation and an opportunity to grow and learn.
Please introduce yourself if you ever see me at Imago!
In my singleness there are days when I am thankful for it and times where I wish there would be sometimes next to me. Someone I could reflect with what happened throughout the day, or dream about the future. Share good and bad things and on and on. But there often I wonder aswell if the feeling of being lonely is the cry for a partner or even more? Is it that the loneliness can´t be filled with a partner fully? Is this loneliness a cry of the heart of being not close enough to our God? Or is it the cry for someone to walk through life with? I think both.
I hear God calling out to me to trust in him alone, to rest in him. So that he can make me into a guy who walks with him. That when the time comes that I have a partner I still listen foremost to God, and not reflect onto the partner what should come from God. That I praise the Lord with all I have and not my partner. But then out of the love and respect that God has for me, be able to love the one who´s out there for me.
In the meantime I´m thankful for the friends and family that God has placed in my life in this time of life.
I thought of this post on the weekend. I strained my ankle, so i can’t drive, so was dependent on my husband to drive me places, and I had a conference to go to at 8am on Saturday morning. It was a struggle to get him out of bed and for some reason, he felt i didn’t need to be there the second registration opened (which he was right about, but i really like being on time).
I prayed for all the single people then, who didn’t have someone to drive them places when they had strained ankles, even if they aren’t on time.
Thank you, Joy. As usual, your posts, especially on topics like this one, are encouraging and sustaining. I know that “remember what it feels like to not have any help” thought, I have it often. I haven’t had any injuries lately, I can’t imagine that kind of frustrating difficulty! But all the moving across cities and countries and physical chores and decisions that come with it in the last year and more… it would be so nice to have “partner help,” as much as friends and families do help immensely. But I’m grateful for the strength of spirit it builds in me. And I do need to remind myself of that from time to time.
Lots of love to you.
Thank you for this beautiful reminder. It’s a struggle of faith to be content with the season we are in, especially because in our limited sight, we can’t see the end.
I have been married six months, and remember feeling that marriage would solve many of my feelings of loneliness. I often complain about my husband’s intense work schedule instead of being grateful for him and how hard he works. I was reminded by God yesterday to be thankful for this season, because it also allows me to spend much more time to seek God than the typical wife’s schedule may allow. I had been spending a lot of timing anxious for the next season, when I (someday hopefully) have kids and won’t be home alone in the evenings at all. You reminded me that I’m just completely missing the point.