Learning to See Your Single Neighbor by H. Stallcup
The more the church recognizes our worth, the better we can integrate into the church.
…Doing life alone. I’m far from the only single Christian who is regularly exhausted by it.
Singles who have great family and friends and churches still regularly experience loneliness and feelings of powerlessness. From ordinary Saturdays to life-changing events, singleness can often make you feel like you are hiding in plain sight.
This is not how it’s supposed to be. In the kingdom of God, partnership is not reserved for married couples.
The Scriptures consistently paint a picture of interconnected community, showing us a way of life where our unique personhood matters and where we find ourselves in day-in and day-out partnership with others.
But sadly, the American church has often adopted a vision of singleness that emphasizes independence over partnership, excusing married people from laying down their lives to love their single friends.
…As one friend recently shared:
I had to have my cat put down and he was my little companion. I remember digging his grave in my backyard in the rock-hard Texas soil by myself being one of the loneliest moments in my life. What was even worse was my closest friend knew this was happening and didn’t even call to check on me. She was married with kids and I think just didn’t “get” how much my cat meant to me.
It has become popular for people to say to someone hurting, “You are not alone.” That message has brought me comfort many times, but the reality is, I was alone that night as I sat on the carpet, soaking my cheeks with tears about a couch. That doesn’t mean I was unloved or without people, but I was alone in my physical room and in my need. No one was there to hold me as I cried; no one else was even sending text messages asking for last-minute couch-moving help on my behalf.
…Do You See?
…Do you see me on weekends and holidays and all the other times our culture has dubbed “family time”?
…Christians cannot begin to learn to show up for the single people among them until they learn to see. Sometimes that means being willing to step outside the boundaries of what’s comfortable or easy to understand. Because here’s the bottom line: Even though it’s difficult and time-consuming and may upend our priorities, God calls his church to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way … fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
…If you are ready to start seeing and showing up for your single friends, here are four ways to begin:
One of the biggest gifts marriage gives is stability and commitment. When you are married, you know who your first phone call is, who your feedback and logistics person is. Many single people ache for that kind of relational commitment. If you do not believe marriage is a reward for being a better human, then you also should believe single people are just as deserving of commitment.
Just as you chose your spouse, choose your single friends in concrete committed ways. Be verbal, get specific, and follow through. Offer to serve as a friend’s emergency contact, or say things like “Every other Tuesday we want to get together with you, and not always at our house.”
Take the Initiative
Love should be proactive. Show your single friends you see them by consistently taking the initiative. There is a fatigue that comes with constantly having to ask for help, so when a married couple pursues me, asking what I want and need before I have to send another text, I feel deeply loved.
Healthy marriages often have points of check-in, a time each week where you hash out calendars, talk through conflicts, and emotionally care for each other. Why can’t this also be the case with your closest single friends?
(Link): “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” – one of the most excellent Christian rebuttals I have seen against the Christian idolatry of marriage and natalism, and in support of adult singleness and celibacy – from CBE’s site
(Link): Self-Serving Editorial at CT: Married With Kids Lady Says ‘Why Christians Need to Embrace a Changing Definition of Family’ – But What It Boils Down To: She Wants Free Baby Sitting From Adult Singles. Seriously.