The Single Writer Rant

Can I tell y’all something? I get a bit agitated when I read Christian single columns or books on dating. That’s my thing right? Like that is exactly what I’m working on a book proposal for, and I hate reading on the subject?

Yes, yes I do.

Here’s the reason why it bothers me so much.

Because at *almost* 36 years of age, I have a very hard time finding a substantive book on dating/Christian singleness that isn’t fluffy junk or preparation for marriage only written by another single Christian. Oh don’t get me wrong, there’s some good stuff out there and I am a big fan of several authors on the matter. The problem lies in when I scroll to their bio (on internet articles) or flip the back cover open. Every single one of them says “married to…” or “wife of…”

Yes I want their expertise and knowledge on this stage of life…but what if this stage is ultimately my landing spot? I want to know how to live in this place of life from someone whose navigating it themselves as a single. My ultimate goal in life isn’t marriage, and most days I don’t think about it. There are days I long for it, and pray about it, and my future husband, yes. (Y’all he needs your prayers, cause I’m obviously quite a handful) My ultimate goal in life is to live in obedience to God, moving ever closer to Christ and who He would have me be.

And so I bring my rant to you the church, to the fellow writers and singletons in the church…let’s step into our lives fully, and talk about them. Let’s be honest enough with ourselves and with our people to learn and grow from one another. I wouldn’t let a fresh out of college kid tell me about the navigation of retirement, so why sit back and let marrieds tell us about our single life? I bring it to the publishers, the editors, the curriculum people…singles in the church and out of the church need their voice in print, in studies, in in-depth richness that pursues more than a marital outcome, but a life shaped and molded for Christ’s use.

Are They Having Fun Without Me?

That question didn’t plague me until my mid-twenties. Never more did it haunt my thoughts than when I thought about all the other women in the singles ministry at my church.

You see for most of my life I preferred the company of boys. I grew up in a neighborhood full of them, and with a seven year age gap with my sister, I found the boys much more apt buddies. As life progressed for me throughout those awkward middle school (cause let’s just admit we are all awkward in middle school, okay?) and even through most of high school I migrated to being one of the guys. I could count on one hand the number of female friends I had, and down to one or two fingers the besties I would find in the female genre.

I just preferred guys. Things were easier, there was less drama, and they weren’t competing for attention at that point (at least not that I chose to see). Even into college I had two close female friends, and a multitude of male friends. Some of my closest friendships from college were with males, and it didn’t help matters that I was working and majoring in sports administration.

It wasn’t until several years later, as I settled into life as a young professional with a job and a home church that I began to crave that female friendship more. The desire was met by some amazing women in the singles ministry at the church I began to call home. Quickly I realized that all those years of being around the guys had not prepared me for the massive insecurity I felt among a group of women, in various age brackets and stages of life.

Nervously I tiptoed around the women to observe and marvel at how they navigated the large group dynamic, often squaring off to “call mine” on a single man within the ministry. I laughed at this in my naïve heart, not knowing that this is often the case in singles ministries as women are about a billion to 3 ratio to men. (*not scientifically proven, just from a multiple experiences y’all) There were nights though that I wondered if they were all off somewhere having fun without me. Simply because I wasn’t secure enough in my relationships with women to know any different or include myself in more conversations.

Anxiety would rise up as I sought to belong, “be in community” as they often preached from the stage, to know I had a place with these women. No where did fear, doubt and insecurity play a bigger and louder song on repeat than in those first months dipping into a ministry at a church. Admittedly this has happened since then as well, as I navigate visiting a new church, seeking out the home I wanted to call mine in a new city, desiring others who would welcome me and challenge me as that first group did many years ago.

Now I sit on the opposite side, desiring to create women’s ministry within my church as once again our ratio sits at about a billion to three males. I am one of a tight group of women who seek to serve and love others within our church because we are called and commanded to do so. My heart goes out to the new faces and new hearts that step through the doors each week, because I was once in those very cute heels myself. Wondering if I was being judged for what I had chosen to wear, worrying that women were saying “Oh great, another single female when there’s already a bajillion of us here”, or never being engaged in conversation simply because I am overlooked, because I blended.

I know those doubts and lies that our hearts want us to believe because our hearts are flesh. They deceive even on our best days. When our heart yearns for community, we will never feel more alone than in a room full of people. Our minds tell us that everyone else is having fun without us, and we weren’t meant to be in community. When in reality, we are all desiring after the ability to be known, by others and by God. We take those steps into church doors because of God’s whisper for us to be in community with one another, loving one another as we love Him.

So if that’s you…the one who believes fun is being had without you I challenge you to step out one foot more, lean in just a bit closer and cast aside the fear of remaining unknown. And if that’s you…the one who is already in ministry I challenge you to step out one foot more, lean in just a bit closer and cast aside the fear of rejection.

 

We are not having fun without you because we are without you in our midst.

The Rachels and Leahs of the World

It’s a tale as old as time it seems…(No, I am not talking about Beauty and the Beast here, at least not now)

The tension of relationships.

Two women find themselves attached to the same man. They do all they can to one-up each other simply to gain his love and devotion, to be the first in his life rather than play second fiddle. I am pretty sure multiple comedies and romances have been based off of this brief synopsis. I know I have been a part of that story in my own life and seen it rip apart friendships over the years.

As I sat reading about this, I could not help but think on the female relationships in the church. You see I was reading straight from Genesis…About real women, in the lineage of Christ, sisters themselves who were thrust into a situation where they desired nothing more than the attention and love of a man. A man who was forthcoming about his preference of one of the sisters over the other. And the resulting dysfunction of tension within the family which laid the foundation for continued disregard of family and sinful actions to perpetuate down their lines.

I wanted to shake Rachel and Leah. I wanted to comfort them both and yet I wanted to brush past their drama as well. But I just couldn’t.

Because it’s too prevalent even now in our midst as women. As the church.

We women are far too good at making it a competition rather than a cheering section when it comes to relationships, leadership and the church. When it comes to the area of singles, we do it simply because of numbers-there just aren’t as many single men in the church as there are women-so we start vying for attentions of the opposite sex to the detriment of our fellow women. I wish I could claim ignorance on this but unfortunately I have been on both the giving and receiving end of this tension over the years, where we find ways to “one-up” the other lady.

I have even seen this among the marrieds and families, with the wonder moms crowd vying for VBS status and church leadership praise. In our pursuit for goodness, we have found instead pride and ego-centered living. We have given up community for temporary attention. We have chosen ourselves over others.

As much as we like to point to the Israelites with their complaining in the desert, here we sit in the same petty arguments that plagued some of the very first families. The desires for our own good apart from God and His purpose, His call to community and love, to engaging the other ahead of ourselves, to servant filled lives instead of self-filled motives.

Maybe it starts with us ladies. Maybe, just maybe, we stop being the Rachels and Leahs in the walls of the church (or the home, or the workplace, or around the coffeshops) and instead we embrace the life of community, comradery and support. We share with one another instead of cutting one another down. We build up rather than seek to one up. Rather than see another woman as our competition we see her as our sister, our journey-woman, our friend.

Encouraging Men

“I don’t need a knight in shining armor. Just a good guy wearing the full armor of God.”

That quote gets at the very heart of many women’s lives as believers who are single. We aren’t looking for a man to save us, because we have Christ already. Many of us are independent and providers within ourselves.

Simply put, we are seeking good guys who are choosing to arm themselves daily in God, just like us. I may be speaking for a minority of single women in the church, but I have a feeling I am not. We desire to see you lead, Christian men. We pray over you and for you. I know many women who are praying, just like me, for our future husbands even now.

We are making that choice each day to surround you with prayers of protection, discernment, guidance and wisdom. Yes you can sweep us off our feet, but when you plant us back on the ground it’s on the firm foundation of Christ. Over the last many years of being in the church and being single, I have found we tend to congregate around the fact there are more women than men in the church.

Just recently there were whispers that “you can’t not get a girlfriend” by going to a singles Bible study. While part of me laughed, I couldn’t help but think it was true. But ladies I think we need to also take ownership when there’s a lack of men in the church, or even serving in the church. We can find it easier to sit back and bemoan that fact or we can start to pray for God to raise up men in the church, bring them in from the community to build one another up and the church.

We want the men who are putting the armor of God on, but are we putting it on ourselves in prayer for them? Are we encouraging and engaging them in a way to prepare them for battle? Are we choosing to intentionally pursue friendships rather than relationships with men in order to serve the church? Are we praying for the guys who are in the church now to be the men we want to lead?

These questions are just some of the ones I have had the last few weeks as I have encountered the reality that men need prayer and community just as we women do, it looks different and we don’t fully see it. But they need us to be watchful in prayer, arming ourselves with encouragement and support for them instead of backhanded jabs at “women doing it all” in the church.

True, we don’t need the knight in the white horse to come galloping in to save us but we do need men who are buckling up and strapping on the armor to go to battle each day for God’s kingdom. So let’s encourage them in ways that are eternally focused rather than presently-minded.