Tag Archive: single


shana

Hello. I’m Shana, and I have a husband. He’s Carl. 

We haven’t been married very long but we are married nonetheless. 

I’m not really a writer, so I’m not really going to make this sound good or write particularly well, but over the past 2 and a half years of marriage I’ve been putting together a mental list of things I’d like my single friends to know. Here goes (all harshness unintended):

1) When your married friends don’t invite you to their wedding, don’t take it as a personal slight. Weddings are expensive and making the decision of who to invite and who to leave off is extremely difficult. They don’t hate you, they just have to draw the line somewhere. Also, if you are bleak, please please please don’t tell them. It only really makes them feel more crap about the decision. If you’re in the position of planning a wedding one day, you’ll see what its like, and you’ll wish you were more understanding and made things more about them than you. They love you, I promise. And they’re probably as upset as you that they can’t have you there. 

2) When your married friends get back from honeymoon, don’t give them knowing looks, or slap him on the back in a what-a-man kind of way, or ask “soooo, how was it?”. Or worse: “soooo, how’s the sex?”. Sex is intimate, and personal and a little scary. And it certainly doesn’t involve you. Don’t make us embarrassed, or draw attention to our sex life in a public setting. We don’t want to talk to you about it. We want it to be private, we want to protect it. Its for us, not for you. And also, I’m pretty sure an honest answer might make you far more embarrassed than it makes us. 

3) When your married friends leave a social gathering early, please don’t make remarks about how we just want to go have sex. Firstly, if that was the case, well done, you just killed the mood. Secondly, most likely is we’re tired, and we work a lot, and we need sleep. And now going home means we don’t have to leave the person we love for the night, which is awesome. So we really just want to go home. I promise married people don’t only have sex, we do other things too (surprise). 

4) Please don’t ask your married friends when they plan on having kids. It’s like asking for a sex-schedule. if we want you to know, we’ll tell you. What if we can’t have kids? What if everything isn’t great? What if we just had a miscarriage or don’t want children at all? How would your question help in those scenarios? It wouldn’t. Also, everyone asks us, so it kinda gets old. 

5) Please don’t ask your married friends if they’re pregnant whenever they have gastro, or take a sick day, or look bloated. Don’t look at their fat tummy and make a comment. It’s just fat. We know it’s there. If we have news to tell you, we’ll tell you when we’re ready. 

6) We’re married. Which means that we’re going to be affectionate to each other in public. If it’s really overboard, of course you can tell us, we don’t want you to be uncomfortable. But we also don’t want to have to keep completely apart. Because we’re married, and that’s good. Please don’t roll you eyes or make comments when we move to sit next to each other or show our affection. 

7) We’re married (I think you’ve got that point by now though), which means some of our priorities and responsibilities have changed. It’s new for us, we’re also trying to get used to it. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to hang out with our friends. Which reminds me, please don’t refer to your friend’s wife as a “ball and chain”, or a “kill joy” or ask him if he needs “permission” to hang out. We’re not his mommy. And we really do value his friendship with you. We don’t want him to give that up. Ever. We want him to prioritise spending time with you. Just maybe understand that timing is sometimes an issue. 

I guess I could continue, but I prbably shouldn’t. Just know this: we love and value your friendship. Maybe you’re closer friends and you have the place to ask these questions, or make these jokes. But maybe not, and maybe doing so will hurt or embarrass us. So just think carefully next time. Let’s not make things awkward. 

Ok that’s me
Bye now

[For more thoughts from Alexa and Charles on what they would like their married friends to know, click here]

[For many other thoughts on all sorts of relationshippy things, head over here]

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katehurleyGNL

A little eight-year-old girl was asked what she thought love was. She cocked her head and thought for a little bit. Then she replied, “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over to paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis. That’s what love is.” [pg 159, Getting Naked Later]

And with that excerpt, i begin the book review of this most well written and fun book by a friend of mine who i encountered on the internet.

I must have stumbled onto Kate’s blog, the Sexy Celibate, more than a year ago and in fact I might have made the connection through the amazingly worshipful music she writes and sings, but having read something about her being single, I took a chance and asked her if she would perhaps like to write a piece for the Taboo Topics series I was running on Singleness. Taking me totally by surprise she said yes and wrote this very popular piece, some of which may even have made it into her book in some form or another:

Well at times, I feel barren. Not only barren in my childbearing, but barren as a lover as well. I don’t have children or a husband, and so I really have no immediate blood family. Please, please, be sensitive to this barrenness in me. Please don’t tell me that I have done something wrong in not letting go, and the result of that shortcoming is my barrenness.

And we have been friends ever since and so when I heard she had written a book, titled ‘Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed’ I was super amped to see what she had to share about her journey and also what she might have to say to others about theirs. When she asked for some volunteers to read the book and write some reviews, I charged my way to the front flinging single people left and right and di what had to be done in the hope that she would allow me, a married guy [although married at 35 so I still feel I might ‘get’ it], to read and talk about her book:

puss

She completely fell for it:

THE BOOK REVIEW

To be absolutely honest [although I won’t mention names], I was actually already in the middle of reviewing a book on dating when Kate made the offer. The book was fine and all, but it was not really bringing much new to the topic, and knowing Kate the little bit I do, I expected hers to have a certain life and refreshment to it that would keep me interested.

So ‘Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed’ jumped to the head of the queue and I devoured it over the next couple of days [which was in the midst of a fairly busy schedule, but there was something very enticing about Kate’s book and I kept wanting to know what was next] and I was not disappointed.

It starts out with this sweet yet heart-breaking story of Kate playing a game of ‘Old Maid’ with her young friend Isabella. When Isabelle wins the game, she looks at Kate and declares her ‘The Old Maid’ and more importantly, the loser.

“Am I the loser?” Kate asked herself and so begins this journey that at times is light and fun and skippy [can a book be skippy? if it can then Kate nails it!], but at other times deals with the raw and the rough, real and honest, angry and confused emotions and experiences of a 30 plus year old who discovered she was single a lot longer than she thought she might be and is trying to make sense of life and love and God and relationships and unrealised dreams.

In her opening chapter she invites the world’s single people into her story: I am writing this book for all of you. I want you to feel validated. I want you to know that you’re not alone. And most of all, I want you to believe that you are deeply valuable. I hope that we can walk down the road toward discovering our value together.

What I love about the start of the book and how Kate follows through with it, is that she begins with a list of ‘I am nots’ with things like ‘going to give you a formula to find the perfect mate’ and ‘tell you that the answer is to be satisfied in God alone’ or ‘promise that God will give us the desires of our heart’ and more, but instead, she writes this:

I want married people and the church at large to have a better understanding of what singles and divorced people go through so that they can better support us. I want to look at the unique challenges Christian singles face and to explore some of the unhealthy perspectives of the Christian culture when it comes to dating.’

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND THE PAINT BY NUMBERS

There ARE a lot of books on Singleness and for me what makes Kate’s stand out is the amount of herself she throws into ‘Getting Naked Later’. More than simply writing a ‘How to’ book with theories, formulas and excuses Kate opens the door to her life and invites the reader to join her on part of the journey she has walked and is walking which doesn’t as yet have the Disney happy ending of ‘She found her prince’ if that is the sign of success we are looking for. But along the way she does share lessons she has learned and struggles she has endured as she moves forward on her journey of hope. Possibly the biggest shout out that this book gives goes something along the lines of ‘Hey, you are not alone in this. I get a lot of what you’re going through. Let me share some of mine.’ 

I think there is something in here for everyone but it will particularly stroke a chord with those single people who are a little older and perhaps in some ways feeling like [or being made to feel like by the ‘extremely sensitive’ people around them] they have missed out on something. This piece Kate writes on ‘disenfranchised grief’ for example was a huge eye-opener:

One of the only articles I found that did talk about the difficulty of being single was called “My Secret Grief: Over Thirty-Five, Single and Childless” by Melanie Notkin. In it, the author says, “This type of grief, grief that is not accepted or that is silent, is referred to as disenfranchised grief. It’s the grief you don’t feel allowed to mourn, because your loss isn’t clear or understood. You didn’t lose a sibling or a spouse or a parent. But losses that others don’t recognise can be as powerful as the kind that is socially acceptable.

This sadness, this disenfranchised grief, is what I feel on a semi-regular basis. I have not lost a marriage, but I have never had a lover. I have not lost a baby, but I have never had a child.

Boom! Right between the eyes. And there are a fair number of moments like these.

SOME FINAL MOMENTS OF A VERY INCOMPLETE REVIEW

You can tell how much I enjoy a book I read by the amount of folded over corner tops of pages I want to go back to or paragraphs which really impacted me and ‘Getting Naked Later’ has so many of those I can’t even pretend to HOPE TO cover all of them [that would be a long blog post even by my standards!] here. But I will share a few gems as I sign off [and you really should get hold of a copy and read it for yourself, cos I feel like there is something for everyone to take away:

In a chapter looking at Hollywood movie romances, Kate nails the problem on the head: It would be wise for us to recognise our disease of loneliness and realise that getting married will not cure that disease.

I don’t think Kate is trying to suggest that loneliness is like a sickness, but she is trying to suggest that often, as single people [which I was til age 35!] we tend to get into a head space of thinking that just finding ‘our person’ will solve a whole bunch of issues in our life, when the truth is that we will tend to take those same issues with us into marriage.

Kate shows insight into the married life she has yet to experience, as evidenced in this quote: If I do get married, my husband will love me more than he loves anyone else in the world. He will also probably hurt me more than anyone else in the world will hurt me. I will think there is no one as wonderful as him anywhere. I will also think that there is no one as annoying as him. My job will not be to judge if he is good enough for me. My job will be to love him well.We will build a history together.

Getting Naked Later is also great because it covers such a range of topics – Kate dares to boldly share her take on sex while holding nothing back in her in-depth description of the pity party singles love to throw for themselves [or groups of themselves]

In her chapter titled, ‘The Great Name Changer’ she reminds us of the power labels can play in our lives by saying, ‘I am many things other than a single woman: lover of God, lover of people, traveler of the world, teacher, lover of the poor and downcast, avid reader, overcomer of a chronic disease, ridiculous enjoyer of dark chocolate and good cheese, lover of nature, worshipper, but “single” is often the only label I give myself.

kh

Very importantly this is the story of a woman who is already in a relationship and an important one at that. Kate’s relationship with God is the thread that weaves itself through this book and holds everything together, although not always in a way that feels nicely coloured in within the lines. This singleness thing can get messy and Kate does not hold back from the honesty and sometimes pain that is involved in that aspect of her life. One encounter she has with a mentor of hers who told her:

“Kate, I want you to focus on trusting God for the next few months.”

“I sounded like a recovering Pharisee when I said, “But I do trust God.”

She answered very gently, “No, Kate. No, you don’t.”

I realised almost automatically that she was right. The anxiety that I had just spilled out to her indicated how little I trusted Him. When it comes down to it, I don’t always see Him as good. In my heart, I often don’t believe that God will give me a good life. Sometimes I believe that even if He is good, I will negate His blessings if I don’t make the right choices.” 

And there you have it – you won’t find honesty like that in the ‘Ten tips to finding your perfect Christian man’ book that is front and centre on your local christian bookstore relationship shelf.

But again and again, it is the stark honesty and gentle humour and vulnerability that brings a wave of refreshment with ‘Getting Naked Later’ and that is what will draw you in and keep you invested as you read this part of Kate’s story. This is a worthwhile addition to your bedside table reading material and I encourage you to grab hold of a copy now.

I will leave you with one last quote that sums up a big part of Kate’s attitude as she faces a present that doesn’t look exactly like the future she once imagined and expected, from her chapter on intentional community, but reaching even beyond that:

‘It is good for u to be in a family, even if we have to build our own.’

[To buy your very own copy of ‘Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed, click here]

[For more information about Kate Hurley and links to everything you need to get hold of, click here]

[To listen to her music and get hold of some copies for yourself and your friends, click here]

craigb

This is Craig’s adaptation of someone else’s comments:

Ten Things Your Single Friends (like me) Are Tired Of Hearing

1) “You’ll find it when you aren’t looking!”

This is typically where your advice starts. ”It’ll come along when you least expect it,” is also “You’ll find it when you aren’t looking“ This is a ridiculous and retarded statement. We’re programmed to look for it. It’s in our genetic make-up, God make us this way. That’s like saying, “hey, you know that dream career you want? forget working at it. It’ll happen when you least expect it. One day you’ll be walking down the street and BAM you’ll be a CEO. And it’ll be success after success for years after, but don’t work for it or anything like that. Just maybe chill out on this couch. It’ll come to you.” You need to stop telling us not to look for it, because let me tell you something, there have been times I have been looking for a pen and instead some serendipitous moron came along that I thought could have been my princess (but turned out instead to be the ugly step-sister) and there have been days and times and months and years where I wasn’t looking for it, and guess what came along? A jar of Nutella and a few bananas between some slices of bread.

2) “You can’t be happy in a relationship unless you’re happy with yourself first.”

This is true. BUT even though there are those of us who ARE actually happy with who we are, God make us to be part of a couple. Brett. I’m happy with myself. I’m so happy with myself I actually wake up every morning and brush my teeth with rainbows. Seriously though, “finding yourself” is a process in life, and I don’t think you’re ever really “done,” per se. Am I completely different person than I was in college? Not entirely. Have I gone through a ton of real world experiences that have changed my outlook and made me stronger, happier, more independent, and more of a catch? Yes. Am I happy with myself? Yes. Will I continue to grow and change and all that stuff that humans do until they die? With God’s grace, Yes. Consider that it’s not that all of us happy single people need someone in our lives to dote on us and make us happier, it’s that we’re finally happy and we want someone to share it with. Also, a lot of you “happy” people in relationships seem like you need to have a few weeks on your own to evaluate yourselves. The incessant need for your boyfriend to text you back within thirty seconds after a text may not be the best proof surrounding your statement. Try again.

3) “You’re still young, you got all the time in the world.”

You’re still annoying. We don’t give care how old we are. Age isn’t really what we’re complaining about. And although many of us are young, we still have examples of people who are old and alone every day. And that’s terrifying. So your logic is moot.

4) “You deserve someone who wants to give you everything.”

Hey, I couldn’t agree more. Actually after hearing this a couple dozen times it makes me feel like you’re just saying it to avoid the conversation about how depressing it is that no one has come along yet. You could list a million reasons why I’m worth all the love and unicorns and mermaids in the world, and I would be on your page a hundred percent. As a matter of fact, I would have written more pages after we were both done being on your page, so that we could also be on those pages as well. So now that I know what I deserve, what clever thing do you have to say that will make me feel better about the fact that I still don’t have what I deserve?

5) “You’re looking in the wrong places.”

This one’s particularly good. Because then I get to ask the follow up question of “then please tell me where I should be looking.” Tell me more about this magical land that you found your significant other? OH, was it CHURCH? Or WORK? Or was it the GYM? Or The running or Cycling club? Or were you SET UP? Please tell me, because I guarantee, I have had some type of dating experience with someone from each place you say is the “right” place to look. You people seem to think that all of us single people just go out to bars and get trashed and try to marry the first thing that comes along. I don’t even visit bars, although I am considering it to drown out your stupid advice!

6) ”You should try online dating!”

And you should try seeing how much of your head you can fit into an oven. I’ve tried it. Internet dating is essentially Craigslist missed connections with direct messaging and a few more pictures from 10 years ago. OKCupid, Match.com, Christianmingle (WHY GOD, WHY) all of these sites are probably the WORST place to find real love. Love isn’t something that you should have to read manifestos and “6 things I can’t live without” sections to find. It’s probably one of the most inorganic ways to find someone, in my opinion, and I’m not knocking it (my sister found her husband on internet dating), but one grows tired of the likes of “Your dream girl”, the recently divorced mother of three, (from 3 fathers). The rest are too busy to even get together for coffee.

7) “You’re too picky.”

OH, I’M SORRY. Please, lead me to your lair of Boyle look-a-likes and Frankenstein’s with kind hearts. Let’s be clear, I’m not picky, but I’m not going to settle for the wrong person either. I’ve asked out plenty of women, just because it doesn’t work out doesn’t mean I’m too picky!!!!

8) “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”

I don’t even have anything to say for this. There’s too much rage from number 7.

9) “You need to put yourself out there more.”

Unless I need to be naked on the corner of Monument and Dan Rd. throwing money in the air and simultaneously holding a puppy, I think I’m doing a pretty good job. But hey, if you have any more advice on REALLY putting myself out there, let me know. Maybe existing as a human being and going places and meeting people in the world just isn’t enough.

10) “I’m Engaged!”

Ja, well… whoopy!

[To hear some thoughts from Chantelle Finaughty on the topic of what she would like her Married Friends to know, click here]

single

i was 35 when i got married and so i still feel like i have some kind of grasp and authority when it comes to speaking for/with the single community and definitely have a huge heart for them, especially those who are a little older and wanting to be married [as not all of them are – marriage is definitely not the end point finishing line of you-have-made-it’ness although it has too often been presented that way… don’t worry, for me that was quickly replaced with having-children-is-the-end-point-of-having-arrived which can be as awkward and much fun if you are not specifically intending to have children] so i get it [at least a little bit] is what i am saying…

when i put together a Taboo Topic on Singleness, it immediately became the most popular theme of that series which took me a little by surprise but just goes to show that this is a relevant issue for a lot of people, and some of my good friends have written some amazing stories over there.

and so i try to be conscious of you, especially when i post quite a lot of stuff on my blog about marriage and relationships [which i also have a super huge heart for] and as i’ve been preparing for what is going to be a fairly long series [and facebook onslaught] i thought i should try do something for the singles audience as well and the idea of ‘Things I wish my Married Friends knew or did’ came to mind.

when someone gets married, the dynamic between them and their single friends always changes, sometimes more than others. especially when it is the friendship between a guy and a girl [yes, those platonic ones can and do exist]. and while it is a change for both people, the married person gets to be with another person, while the single person often is a little more by themselves [or a lot]. so it really seems like the single person loses more when that happens.

and often the dynamic gets a little weird. the married person is trying to figure out how much time they can spend with the single person while still honouring their marriage and partner and the single person is trying not to intrude on the marriage but still wanting to be friends.

sometimes there is hurt. sometimes there is awkwardness. sometimes there is confusion. and often there are words that need to be said or advice to be given and maybe it doesn’t always feel like there is a good opportunity to say those things to those who need to hear.

so i am hoping that giving some of my single friends a platform will help them be really honest and open and real and just share some thoughts and ideas they have for their married friends and maybe just married people in general. if you are a single person reading these and feel like you have something to add, please drop me a line.

Hear from Craig Botha

Hear from Chantelle Finaughty

Hear from Busisiwe Ledibane

Hear from Kate Sherry

Hear some positive vibes from Sammi Taylor

Hear from Chris Jacobs

[Dani is a friend that tbV and i met while working with the Simple Way and she currently lives in San Francisco, which is just across the water from us, this is a piece she wrote a year ago which was published in Sojo.net and which she offered to share with us]

Dani Scoville

When my intoxicated friend leaned in to kiss me, I didn’t think I was just the most readily available girl. No, I convinced myself that his true affections for me were coming out. But the next morning, when I realized what it actually meant, I felt less worthy of being loved than I did before.

This wasn’t the first time I lied to myself in the moment and felt awful later, but I wanted it to be the last. I told my friend that wasn’t going to happen again, but I didn’t attempt to process why it happened. Then I was asked to organize an event around the intersection of spirituality and sexuality.

As I began reflecting on my past sexual interactions with men, I tried to bring God into the conversation for the first time.

It was easier to punish myself with guilt, follow youth group-style sexual boundaries or just say, “forget it” and do whatever I desired. I was reluctant to process my sexuality. Not only would it be a lot of work and uncover a lot of past hurt, but what if it unraveled foundational faith and lifestyle beliefs?

Up until six months ago, I had never questioned my decision to not have sex until I was married. I just did what I thought I was supposed to.

Once I began to reflect on it, though, I realized I was angry that God was asking me to wait. Or maybe it was OK to have sex, and God hadn’t told me sooner! I envisioned what would happen if I didn’t wait.

I decided that I would give my current relationship six months. If we were in love, I would give in.

But no matter how I attempted to deconstruct sex outside of marriage, I still felt that this change in my standards would result in me putting an unhealthy amount of expectation on that man to marry me. I knew that I would feel all those years of waiting were cheapened. Because, for me, sex holds an intense emotional and spiritual association.

I didn’t know all this until I questioned. And now, the only way I can envision having sex with someone is in a safe and committed context. This has also led to the more recent realization that I needed to revise my sexual boundaries in dating.

I listed all the events of the past year: what I enjoyed, what made me feel used, and what I needed to allow myself to enjoy. After I processed the last year, I thought about how my desire to be loved and accepted by a man was rooted in a desire to be love and accepted by God. If I first believe that I am God’s beloved, then I would be confident in my interactions with men, knowing I’m already loved and accepted.

So I drafted another list: this one of boundaries self-confident me would ideally want and be able to stick to. A week later, I met a guy who walked me home and kissed me good night at my gate. Rather than slam the gate in his face to make sure he didn’t come upstairs, I told him I was interested in him but that I wasn’t going to invite him in. When I woke up the next morning, I felt great.

I didn’t expect that deconstructing my sexual boundaries in the name of faith would cause me to develop boundaries. But these new ones aren’t oppressive, because they come from an understanding of myself. No one else came up with them but me. Now when the temptation to get a momentary intimacy fix is there, I’ll have my own voice and story reminding me to not give in and wait for something rooted in love.

[Dani Scoville lives in San Francisco and is an active member of ReImagine, a community focused on integrating the teachings of Jesus into daily life. to read more of what Dani writes, check out her blog, ‘Through the Roof Beams’ here]

[For another story on Singleness, meet my friend Beverley by clicking here]

[For an inspirational post titled ‘I don’t wait anymore’ click here]

Married? Single? Other?

My friend Jess is a beautiful, single blonde girl who has been a missionary in Italy for 10 years and is the same age as me. One day, an Italian woman, let’s call her Mamma Carmen, came up to her with a little charm necklace that had a picture of a saint on it.

“What’s this?” asked Jess.
(Cue in accent of Italian mama who doesn’t speak much English)
“A necklace for you. A picture of Saint Anthony. “
“Who is Saint Anthony?”
“Is-a- the patron saint of lost-a things.”
“And what have I lost, Mama Carmen?”
“Oh, you know sveetie. “
“No I don’t know. What is that I have lost?”
“You lost-a your husband.”
“Mama Carmen, isn’t that usually the saint you pray to for a lost sock or car keys-things like that?”
“Yes, but not for you. For you, pray to him for husband. More important than sock.”

Mama Carmen’s Formula:

“Lost Husband + Praying to Patron Saint of Lost Things + Ten Hail Marys= 1 wedding, 5 socks, 2 spoons, and 1 bracelet you thought you gave to your friend Jill.”

I had my own formula concocting conversation with a ministry leader of mine a few years back. Let’s call her Emily. The conversation looked like this:

“Kate, do you remember our babysitter Joann? Well, she went through a season of really struggling with being single like you are going through. She cried and battled and finally brought her burden to the Lord. She let go.

Two weeks later, she met her husband. And he looks just like Ryan Gosling. “

I said,”Emily, I am really happy for Joann. But she is twenty freaking years old.”

“So? What does that have to do with anything?”

I respected and loved this leader, but I just couldn’t brush the comment off this time.

I said “I have had a decade longer than her of wrestling with God over this issue. In all my wrestling, I have had several seasons where I have been content as a single person, embracing the thought of God as my husband. But often, those seasons fade, and I’m struggling again. It is a cycle that happens. I don’t think God laughs at my cycles of frustration. I think he understands. I think He wants to meet me there. “

Emily continued to argue with me, saying that I just needed to let go, insinuating that it was my own fault that I was still single.

I said, “Em, please understand me here. If you had a friend who was not getting pregnant or who was having multiple miscarriages, someone who had been struggling with barrenness for fifteen years, would you say to her ‘If you just trusted the Lord more with your barrenness, he would give you a baby?’ You would never say that! You recognize how much she is mourning that loss, and so you careful with her words. You don’t want to hurt her even more by making her feel like it might be her own fault.

Well at times, I feel barren. Not only barren in my childbearing, but barren as a lover as well. I don’t have children or a husband, and so I really have no immediate blood family. Please, please, be sensitive to this barrenness in me. Please don’t tell me that I have done something wrong in not letting go, and the result of that shortcoming is my barrenness.”

I know that sounds pretty heavy, but it is how many of us feel at times.

In the very thick book of popular theology that is not actually in the Bible, a book I like to call “First Assumptions” , we have this formula:

“Not letting go=being single.
Letting go= being married. “

Most singles I have talked to have had this formula given to them in one way or another. Many of them dozens of times. Almost every time I mention writing my book on singleness, single people give me some kind of version of this story.

Most of us, when we first heard this formula as a young person, grabbed our journal and bible and went to a quiet place. We turned our sweet young faces to heaven with tears in our eyes and said “Lord, I let go. I give my husband to you.”

Do you know why we were saying this? Because we wanted a husband. And according to the formula, if you wanted a husband, you had to let go of him first. So we were letting go of him in order to get him.

Quite ironic, isn’t it?

But as years passed, when that formula didn’t work, we started cringing when someone told us we just needed to let go. We couldn’t put our finger on why it irked something deep inside of us, but it did.

I have a theory about why it frustrates us so much. At the root of this formula is the idea that all single people have done something wrong and all married people have done something right. Married people, I know you probably never meant to make us feel that way, but it is the nature of that formula.

It kind of reminds me of the story of Job. Here is the formula we can get out of his story.

“Tragically losing everything+wife that is pissed+hideous boils all over your body+annoying friends telling you that you must have done something wrong to deserve this+being totally frustrated and not getting why you’re going through this+God’s booming voice telling us humans that we don’t know nothing and He doesn’t fit in our formulas and boxes+ praising God even through horrible circumstances and singing “Blessed Be Your Name” = even more stuff than you had before.”

Sound familiar? (Except for the boils part, hopefully.) That story is one of the oldest in the bible. One of it’s lessons? Don’t make formulas. Meet Him, wrestle with Him, praise Him even when you don’t understand, but never, ever, put Him in a box.

As Donald Miller said, “As much as we want to believe we can fix out lives in about as many steps as it takes to make a peanut-butter sandwich, I don’t believe we can.”

My married friend Becca, who is incredibly dear to me, explained to me that married people don’t often have bad motives in their formula making. She said that when human beings don’t understand something, they make formulas. They want to feel like they are giving their friend some control over the situation. They even make their own life journeys into formulas. Sometimes we singles cling to the formulas given to us because we want some control over the situation as well.

I really appreciate that we had this conversation because it reminded me that married people are not the enemy. They love us.

But out of love, I want our married friends to understand why these formulas are so hard for us to hear.

These formulas makes us feel like our being single has nothing to do with God’s will or our choices or the enemy or any other theory you have on why hard things happen.

It has to do with our lack.

We already struggle with feeling like we lack when we wonder why we haven’t been chosen. Please don’t cut that wound deeper.

This formula also makes us feel like our not being married has to do with our relationship with the Lord, which evidently is wanting.

For most of us, our relationship with the Lord is the most sacred one that we have. Please, please, don’t criticize that relationship as well. Don’t tear down the one relationship where we feel loved and accepted. Even if you mean well, just don’t do it.

I think a good rule of thumb for both parties is to do less formula making and pat- answering and do more listening. Listening to what the Lord has to say, and listening to each others journeys with compassion.

Restrain yourselves from formulas. But don’t restrain yourselves from giving each other a hug. We probably both need one.

Be encouraged that we all have our own journey, and that all of our journeys our valid.

[Kate Hurley writes a blog called ‘The Sexy Celibate’ which you can read here. Among other things she is a singer, songwriter, worship leader, writer, and teacher and has contributed worship to Enter the Worship Circle. I also encourage you to head over to her website and sample some of her music.]

[To read the Singleness story of my friend Kate Sherry, click here]

i said to my beautiful wife Valerie the other day something along the lines of ‘what do people write statuses [stati?] about on Facebook if they are not entering into a relationship or having a baby? [or these days in americaland making some kind of staunchly pro this party or anti that one political statement] as it just seemed like the majority of statuses [stati?] i was reading were about one of those…

two things come out of that, the one for those of you who are celebrating is this:

for people who are single and don’t want to be or those who have lost a child or been struggling to have one, these must be incredibly difficult posts to read – depending on the amount of friends you have and how filtered or not your feed is – because it is hard to celebrate someone else’s status when you are mourning your own…

and so it becomes a tough one – because you don’t want to, and shouldn’t minimise your excitement merely because someone else has gone through a hardship… but i think being aware, and even intentionally so – making some kind of motion towards someone you know who your status may be hurtful for – is a really life building thing to do… acknowledging [in a behind-the-scenes personal email or a live take-them-out-for-coffee invitation] that they might be going through a hurtful time and is there anything you can do or be aware of that might help…

realising that while your new relationship or engagement or new baby is the focus of attention for you now and is the center of your world and rightly so… that for some people out there it is simply one of six new relationships, two new engagements and five new babies that they are seeing…

this is a tightrope and a tricky one and i don’t know that there is any answer beyond awareness and sensitivity and possibly taking a step when it is someone you are really close to that is that person who might be hurting… i do imagine that being straight with them [in terms of how much they may want to hear about your new relationship or baby] could be a healthy thing or just giving them space to speak about their situation and hurt or loneliness or current vibe.

this all sounds a little morbid. but it’s not. or doesn’t have to be. i think this is an incredible opportunity to discover and celebrate community. that somehow, at the same time we can celebrate with those who celebrate but also mourn with those who mourn [or just be bummed with those who are bummed].

anyone else have any thoughts on this..?

to become aware of the unique amidst the deluge read this one

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