How To Pray For Singles

This is a repost

Lately, something has been bugging me about praying for the marriages in our churches. Not just because it is yet another reminder of my singleness. A question formed in my mind, Why aren’t singles in the church as specifically prayed for? I don’t believe that this is because we are thought of as less than marrieds. This may have more to do with the mentality towards singleness. Even from those of us in the midst of it. That somehow our lives and struggles are not as important as those who are married. Or that this state of being is more private to be prayed about so publicly.

It is of course important to pray for marriage. It is hard, challenging, full of trials and blessings.  It is a beautiful example of Christ’s love for us.

But so is singleness. Being a single in the church today is more of the norm than not. A pew poll from 2012 found that this group is in fact growing. For a number of reasons people are waiting longer to get married. Or are recovering from past relationships. Or like me have never been in a relationship.

In fact most churches are having to adjust how to minister to us.

Which is why it is just as important to remember to pray for us. Singleness can be challenging, full of trials and blessings. Pray not only for our potential, future marriages but also for our lives right now.

The majority of us are searching for our spouse. Pray that we be discerning in pursuing a spouse .  Pray for us as we try online dating and get to know new people. Pray for us as we pursue our dreams and establish ourselves. Keep in mind too not necessarily all of us are looking for that in our lives. Marriage, like college may not be for everyone.

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What Matters Most

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Last year I dove into the world of online dating. In a few months I then dove out.  Downloaded on my phone were several dating apps. Apps that began to become the focus my days. It was just too easy to open them and peruse.

Several things dawned on me, first of which is that everyone is being judged. I was guilty of this, swiping left simply because of a bad photo or that the person just was not physically attractive to me. I am sure the same was done to me.

Second, no one really wants to have a conversation. I grew frustrated after taking the time to construct a thoughtful, hopefully witty message. In return, getting no response. The whole thing began to feel wrong for me.

I am nearly thirty six and have never been in a relationship. Dates, yes but not a relationship. The lack of response translated into rejection. Which became draining for me. All those apps were soon deleted.

I had to take a step back and think about what I really believed about potential marriage. As in what it could do for me. Then I attended a marriage workshop that my church held.

It was good for me. It helped me gain a better perspective on my singleness. How I needed to let go of the idea that marriage is created simply for me. For me to be happy or that being married would make me happy.

The reality is, marriage, just as anything else in this Christian life, is there to prepare me to meet Christ. Realizing this, a lightbulb went off in my heart. Regardless if I marry or if I do not, it is all about Jesus. My life is not less worthy to Christ because I am single.

Which has freed me from the anxiety and worry that I have carried for much of my life. Letting go of the judgment that I have placed on myself for being single. Putting myself down as a loser. I believed for so long that my validation belonged in someone else loving me.

Being loved does matter but my salvation is found in Christ and not another person. I still hope for marriage but it may be more of an “if instead of when “question in my life. I have a better perspective on what marriage can possibly be in my life.

Can this be called contentment? Perhaps. I hesitate to call it that though. I call it an in between state. Between feeling content and longing for more. I find it to be the place I need to be right now. The tension where we are all called to live as followers of Christ.

Single or married, what matters most who I am in Christ.

Survival Guide To Valentine’s Day

 

So yes, it’s that time again. That time of year when Christmas is swapped out for Valentine’s Day. I do not know about where you live but this happened even before Christmas Eve had passed.

Seriously, corporate America?

But it struck me. The way it is being sold to us, this holiday is not about love. Nope. This is all business.

But what is being sold to us is not love. It is in fact marketing geared to sell us lies about love.

The lie being sold to us is that you are only loved if you are in a relationship.
That the only kind of love that matters is romantic love. But love, real love is so much more than sappy greeting cards and chocolate with an obscenely long shelf life.

Real love is being in real community. Once I discovered my worth in Christ, I discovered love. Love for myself, love for others and even love for strangers. But the world tells us that you are only loved if you are in a relationship. This is far from the truth because I am well loved.

This has taken me a while to get here. To understand that there is all kinds of love and it is not limited as we have been taught.

Another lie is that if you are in a relationship, then you must spend $$$ to show as much. Pressure is placed on all of us then. Those in a relationship and those who are not.

But, only if we allow corporate entities to define love and how this should look.

How can this be done?
For a start, dear fellow singles. Remember you are loved. Look around at your family and community. Your worth today and every day is not measured by the receiving of cards and gifts. Reach out to your fellow singles and go OUT to celebrate. Or  stay in and binge on Netflix and chocolate? A totally valid choice. This year,I hope to go dancing with my good friends on Valentine’s Day. I want to celebrate friendship and community.

I do not need to be in a couple to celebrate love.

For my coupled friends, do not allow yourself to get stressed out about this day either. You know it’s totally fine for you to binge watch Netflix and eat chocolate in your pajamas.
I came across this on Pinterest and thought it rather interesting.

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The Church and Singles

Last month I wrote about praying for the singles in church. You can read about this here. Today I want talk about to serve singles. Recent polls have indicated that there are more singles in the church today than ever before. This means the idea of how to minister to us changes.

We are getting married later in life or not at all. We are living in a different age where marriage, at least in this part of our 1% privileged world, is not a necessity for survival. We no longer live in the world of Jane Austen, where marriage was for the Bennett girl’s very survival.

So often, in American churches marriage itself it lauded as the epitome of the Christian life. In reality, while marriage is A good thing, it is not the thing. In the Bible we are constantly reminded that things of this world shall fall away. This also includes marriage.

Idolizing either state single or married can be dangerous.

So many singles feel left out or marginalized as the emphasis is often placed on the marriages in the church. As I stated in my previous post, marriage is a good thing, however there are times where their can be a mentality that one group needs more attention over another.

Whether this is an oversight or simply the culture of a church needs to be evaluated. It is often as simple as changing the phrase of a sentence. Or acknowledging that singleness is not easy without the usual platitudes. Perhaps too just checking in with someone to see how they are doing, with our lives, seeking a mate or not seeking a mate.

I am no expert and I do not believe there is a one size fits all ministry. Is there ever? What follows is what I have experienced. First we are a diverse group of people. We vary in age, life experience and walk with Christ. Lumping all singles into one ministry just won’t work.

For example, when I checked out a Young Adult group for a few months the dynamic just did not work for me. Many of those who were attending were rather new to the faith and as a consequence I did not get much out of the small group time. Not to mention the always underlying tension of people checking out the other sex. This made me uncomfortable and I felt as if I had to perform somehow.

That particular ministry is helping a lot of people grow in their faith and build strong relationships but in the end it just wasn’t for me. 

What I realized is that I do not like being designated into a certain group because of my (or lack of) marital status. I don’t think we need several small ministries to address the growing number of singles in the church.
As we are supposed to be one family, essentially creating another congregation for singles just isn’t the answer . There is a reason for kids ministry, students ministry and even college ministry. Those are times of life in which people grow out of or graduate.

Singleness is not something one grows out of or graduates. As some may not get married and because they haven’t and by default feel less than. Or are excluded from serving in certain ways because somehow not being married excludes them doing so. This has not been my personal experience but it is a complaint I have heard from others.

This is one way to not serve the singles in the church. Excluding them from serving the church because they are not married. When something is set out as for the marrieds only you are sending the message that the singles are not as holy or qualified. That in fact Jesus isn’t enough. This is a lie that can cause more hardship for us than is perhaps realized.

I would say that while there may be times for certain aspects of singles ministry to be separate, it does not need to be an utter and complete disconnect from the rest of the congregation.Every church is different and the needs of each congregation vary.

In my experience as a single in church I have been cared for, never told I could not do this or that due to my marital status. However, a lot of my fellow singles have not been as cared for, or been told they could not serve because of their martial status.

By investing in singles as whole people who are lost and in need of Jesus is what matters most than any program or event.