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Platform Delving: My Heart Cries Out to Thee!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One of the things I love most about writing romance novels is that I get to reveal and explore parts of my own psyche that I may not have ever touched upon before writing a reaction or thought a character has.

There’s a personally poignant scene that I wrote for Menu for Romance—it’s a scene that I wrote in the very first draft (back when I thought it would be called A Major Event Inc. and the storyline was much different) which I kept through every revision not just because it revealed so much of who Meredith is but because it has been my own heart’s lament for many, many years.

“It’s not fair,” Jenn wailed.

“What? That Marci’s engaged? Or that she’s twenty-four and engaged?”

Jenn moaned into her fistful of tissue.

“Look, I understand—”

“How could you possibly understand what I’m feeling?”

Meredith rocked back, the words hitting her like a sucker-punch to the gut. “Wait just a minute. You haven’t forgotten that I’m almost three years older than you, have you? And that I’m having to figure out how to accept the fact that my sister who is ten years younger than me just got engaged?”

“But you’ve never been in love—you’ve never even dated! How could you understand what this means to me? I’ve been trying for half my life to find what Marci found with her first boyfriend.”

Meredith separated the hurt and anger Jenn’s words caused from the need to counsel her sister through this emotional crisis. She’d deal with her own emotions later. “Just because I’ve never dated doesn’t mean I’ve never been in love. . . . How do you think it makes me feel to know my younger sister has found something I’m still searching for? Something I’ve been searching for longer than you? How do you think I feel every time a handsome, interesting man asks you for a date? Or when Rafe doesn’t come to Thursday night dinner because he’s on a date? Or being maid of honor for Anne?”

Jenn sniffed, but her sobs subsided. . . . “But I’ve been praying so hard for God to send me my husband. What’s wrong with me?” . . .

. . . Melancholy caught in Meredith’s throat. She was tired of praying the same prayer Jenn had lamented earlier: When, oh Lord, will it be my turn?

I cannot tell you how often I’ve included as part of my Prayer for the New Year that it would be the year I would meet my future husband (as Meredith does at the end of this scene). Or how many times I’ve sat at the weddings of younger friends and family members and had to wonder what was wrong with me because no one had ever fallen in love with me. Or how many bridal showers and baby showers I’ve opted out of attending because I knew (a) I’d be the only unmarried person there and (b) the inevitable dumb things people say to singles would come up, and I just couldn’t abide hearing them (again) in that setting. Not having lived in the same city (or even state) with my mother since 1996, the “Mother-Child” (used to be “Daughter” but most churches have gone PC with those) breakfasts on Mother’s Day are oh-so-wonderful for all of the single and/or childless women out there. And whenever I hear someone gushing about how so-and-so, whose beloved husband died two years ago (or however long it was), has “been blessed with love again,” I experience jealousy like you wouldn’t believe—how is it fair that someone else gets TWO “beloved husbands” and I don’t even rate ONE???? (I do have to say, though, that a dear friend of mine just recently went through this—lost her husband and a couple of years later met and married a wonderful, never-married man. And I am truly happy for her.)

What little ministry there is to singles in the American church focuses on learning to be content with the “season of singleness” God has called us to. To find out what special ministry or task God wants us to do before He’ll bless us with a mate. (Oh, yeah? What great spiritual works did you have to complete before you were “blessed” with your spouse that you married at age eighteen?) Those who haven’t already fled the church by the time they’re thirty-five years old—unless they are absolutely confident that the Lord has called them to remain unmarried—sit there and smile and give lip-service to the idea that they’re “content” in their singleness.

I’ll be the first to say that I’ve come to terms with my singleness. I don’t know that I would say I believe there’s a reason why God hasn’t chosen to “bless” me with a husband; but for the most part, I just focus on living my life according to John 10:10—abundantly. I seek out companionship and fellowship from people and groups who are like-minded and encouraging (mostly, this has become the communities of writers with which I’m involved, and 99.9% of these are women) and my family.

But I’ll also be amongst the few who’ll come right out and say what we all think occasionally: Being single sucks. Not all the time, but there are times when it really feels like I’m being punished for something I didn’t know I did. Like I’m having my nose rubbed into the fact that I’m alone, unchosen, unloved—unlovable—wrong, deviant, odd, and unworthy of God’s time and attention.

In the questionnaire I sent out to a bunch of unmarried people, I posed the question: “What do you like least about being single/unmarried?”

Here are some of the responses I received:

        “It can be lonely. When life is rotten, I want someone to hold me and encourage me. I want someone to watch the sunset with, to cuddle with, or to talk with late at night. There’s a sense of companionship that is missing. Not the roller-coaster companionship of girlfriends but the steady companionship that comes with love and commitment.” (Caitlin Muir, 23)

        “Having to make every decision by myself; not having someone to bounce ideas off of or to unwind with when the day is done. Sleeping alone. Not having someone to make a special meal for or share my latest review with.” (Christina Berry, 32)

        “The loneliness. Sure, I don’t have to check in with another person to make decisions but that also comes with a knowledge that there isn’t really anyone who cares what you do with your time, money, resources. That loneliness unfortunately hits at unpredictable times, too. You can plan around it at Christmas or attending weddings and the like but those odd, random sucker punches really can knock you down sometimes.” (Anne Mabry, 42)

        “There are definitely times when it gets really lonely, and your heart does a darn good job of making sure you know it.” (Thich Truong, 25)

        “Loneliness, not having someone to share even mundane things with.” (Lee Allen Howard, 40-something)

        “The unbearable, gaping loneliness that threatens to make me an island.” (~[Name Withheld], 34)

And before you say, “But married people experience loneliness, too,” let me assure you: We’ve heard it before. And it doesn’t help. Because when it comes right down to it, you do have someone there when times get tough.

Like Jenn and Meredith in Menu for Romance (along with every other heroine I’ll ever write, probably), I go through periods when my prayers consist only of crying out to God: When, oh Lord, will it be my turn?

My soul is in anguish.
How long, O LORD, how long?

Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love. . . .

I am worn out from groaning;
all night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.

(Psalm 6:3–6, NIV)

52 Comments
  1. Jess permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:45 am

    Maybe we do have someone when times get tough. Or maybe the tough times just show us how far apart we’ve grown from our spouse–double whammy. It depends.

    I don’t know any married people (except those who live on the beach on the west coast) who look at sunsets together every day. There are just as many sunsets available to single people. Use them.
    Men are horrible for bouncing ideas off of. If they know the solution, great. If they don’t, they feel like they’re being given a pop quiz.

    Who is more pathetic? The woman alone at the wedding, or the woman sitting beside her husband while he talks to a single woman at the wedding, and every other couple is immersed in each other?

    Yes, single people experience more public loneliness. Of course it isn’t the same. But our Christian faith tells us that everyone has a loneliness that can’t be overcome by other humans.

    On your toughest, most busy, most draining day, picture yourself having to fix a full dinner and make conversation, or, if you don’t, feel as if you aren’t “measuring up.” Picture yourself thinking “If I don’t shave my legs tonight, will it be okay? Does that make me lazy? I wonder how often Mrs. Next Door shaves her legs.” It’s ridiculous, but those are the thoughts we have because we’re supposed to keep our husbands “captivated.”
    I’m not saying that the system isn’t set against singles, particularly women. It is. But don’t idealize marriage. One of the reasons your friends “disappear” into it is because they don’t want you to know what theirs is like.

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 12:56 pm

      I don’t think there is an unmarried person out there who believes that once married, a couple is going to be watching the sunset together every evening. Number one, that was written by someone who is still in her early twenties who still has a slightly more rose-colored-glasses view of romance/marriage—as well as someone who isn’t necessarily just thinking about marriage, but about being in a dating relationship as “not being single.” And in dating relationships at younger ages there is more of a “watch the sunset together” mentality. There should be. She’s not saying that unmarried people don’t enjoy sunsets. Just that sometimes, it would be nice to enjoy it with someone we’re in love with.

      And yes, a married woman at a wedding who is jealous of the only unmarried woman there because the single gal has figured out how to put her discomfort and insecurities aside and have a good time and engage someone else in conversation may be more pathetic (that word is like a knife in my heart!) because the married woman just sits there and pouts (Wah! I want my husband to pay attention to ME and no one else!) instead of joining in the conversation and also getting to know the single woman—who really just wants to talk to someone when all of those other couples around her are engaged in conversation. I personally have never been at a wedding where the married couples there speak only to their spouse and no one else. Nothing says a married woman can’t talk to others around the table if her husband is involved in conversation with another guest—whether male or female. Would said wife have the same problem with the situation if the single person were a man? No, because there’s an insecurity that married women have that every unmarried woman out there is so desperate to get married that we want to steal your husband. Ninety-nine percent of single women don’t want your husband. We each want one of our own!

      Single people experience more public loneliness? I’m not sure I understand that statement. While being reminded in the public forum that we’re surrounded by couples reminds us of our aloneness and bouts of deep longing and loneliness can strike because of it, the worst times are those times when we are truly aware of just how alone we are. Like the day I found out I was getting laid off from my job and came home to an empty house. No one was here to comfort me. No one was here to give me a hug. No one was here to say, “We’ll figure this out together.” No one was here to say, “I’ll hold your hand through this ordeal.” I had to deal with everything–financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically–BY MYSELF with no one else here to help me. Ten years ago, when my great-grandmother died, there wasn’t anyone to grieve with me. Again, I had to sit in this empty house and face it alone. Because phone calls can only bring so much comfort. Friends can only do so much. And I know that as Christians, we aren’t supposed to rely on other people for comfort—but the Bible specifically says that God gave us the institution of marriage that it’s so we won’t have to go through life without a helpmete, a comforter. If someone’s spouse isn’t filling that role of comforter and helpmete, it isn’t the fault of the unmarried people out there who are looking for that comfort and help.

      Imagine your toughest, busiest, most draining day. Picture yourself coming home to an empty house with no one to greet you and ask you how your day was. No one to vent your frustrations to. STILL having to fix a full dinner, eat it alone, and then have to clean up everything afterward by yourself. Having your boss or your coworkers or your customers tell you all day long you don’t measure up—and not having anyone there to counter that with encouragement.

      When God said in Genesis 2:19, “It is not good for man to be alone,” I firmly believe He meant that it isn’t good for us to be solitary—not that marriage is a requirement for someone to get into heaven or to be a “good Christian” (there were no “Christians” when He said it ;-)). It just means that one is the loneliest number in the world, and He created companionship AND marriage to counteract that loneliness.

      (Sorry for writing a whole ’nother blog post.)

  2. Laura in Texas permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 9:26 am

    While I do want to empathize with the struggles you’ve expressed, Kaye, I have to agree with Jess. I married very young, and the hardest thing I had to overcome after getting married is this: I married thinking I’d never be lonely again. I was wrong. And my disappointment and frustration over still being lonely nearly tanked the marriage. Fortunately we both grew up and worked through those things. Don’t get me wrong — I love my husband and have no regrets about being married. I am grateful to have the things you mention missing: someone to scrape the ice off my windshield on cold mornings and bring me Advil when I get a migraine; someone to help make decisions; someone to share inside jokes and history with. But as Jess said, don’t idealize marriage. Much of the time it’s everything you might hope and imagine it to be, but not all the time. It’s possible that the only thing more painful than being alone is being “alone” in a room with the person you love. Even in the best of marriages, that’s the case sometimes.

    Please don’t think I’m not hearing what you’re saying or even that I disagree. I very, very much appreciate the insight you’ve offered into what singleness means to you and to those you quoted. It would be easy for me, as one who married so young, to see only the benefits of singleness — the freedom to make your own choices (vacations/homes/meals/entertainment) without having to factor in a husband’s wishes comes to mind.

    You mentioned the dearth of ministry to singles in most churches. What sort of ministry would be most helpful to or welcomed by singles? What could churches do to make you feel more at home?

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:10 pm

      Laura–it’s wonderful to know that even though you entered your marriage with an incorrect vision of what it would be like, that you were able to work things out and that you’re still happily married.

      For most unmarried people, especially the older we get, believe me, we don’t idealize (nor idolize) marriage. Number one, because we are grownups and relatively intelligent and we have eyes and we see the tabloids about all of the celebrity marriages that implode/explode on a daily basis. We see the couples in our churches and families going through bitter divorces (I’d rather never marry than go through a divorce!), many of us grew up with parents who argued—and we constantly hear from the married people around us who don’t want to let us have the freedom to say that sometimes we hate being single that married life stinks.

      As far as what churches/communities/people can do to minister to unmarried people . . . that’s a post for another day. :-)

      • Laura in Texas permalink
        Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:14 pm

        Thanks, Kaye. I hope you will address that question in a post at some point. As someone who’s been involved in church leadership in various ways over the years, I asked the question sincerely.

        • Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:16 pm

          Oh, I know you were serious, and I’m very touched that you care enough to ask!

  3. Thursday, September 24, 2009 9:29 am

    I remember reading that passage and wondering whether your heart was speaking through your characters. Kaye, my dear friend, you say you’ve come to terms with your singleness, but it doesn’t sound that way. You mean to educate, and you are, but in doing so, consider that your pain is also laid bare. My heart cries out to thee.

    It’s hateful the things that are said to singles or childless women or the obese or the disabled or anyone who finds herself in a state other than where she desires to be. I find that these comments usually come from ignorance, personal insecurity, faulty character, or a hidden burden. Given that, I can only pray for the speaker…once I’ve calmed down and shrugged off those steel-tipped words.

    Sometimes the loneliness in marriage comes because the tough times are internal to the relationship. In those times, you don’t have anyone to turn to other than God. Marrieds, just like singles, have to be very careful about sharing the intimate details of their relationship issues with others, maybe moreso, so that when you come out of it, your friends and family do not then shun your spouse or hold hard feelings against him or her.

    No walk is easy, single or married. God uses whatever state we find ourselves in as a means of perfecting us, the individual. Some are blessed to do that as marrieds; some are blessed to do that as singles.

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 12:19 pm

      There’s a reason I purposely chose the phrase “come to terms with” instead of “am content with.” To me, being content with a situation means that I’m perfectly at peace with the way it is, and I never expect it to change nor will I work to make it change. Coming to terms with a situation means that I accept it, but I don’t have to always like it and I don’t have to be passive about it—I can work to change it.

      • Friday, September 25, 2009 11:28 am

        Good point. I understand that.

        I love that you are willing to take on this topic. It’s been many years now, but I do recall what it felt like to get the inquiring stares and insensitive questions about when I was going to get married and later when we were going to have children, as though I had 100% control over either of those events in my life. What I learned in each situation was the occurrence and timing of events in my life was truly up to God.

        Being so in touch with your feelings around this will infuse the emotions in your romances in such a way that readers will immediately connect, even if their own situation is a bit different. I could already feel your heart in your prose. Now I really can’t wait until your next series!

  4. Thursday, September 24, 2009 12:50 pm

    Being single was very hard for me. It’s even harder for my sister. Particularly in the sub-culture of homeschooling that we belong to. We both though that by this point in our lives we’d be married and have 2-3 kids apiece. That was our plan, but God had other ideas obviously.

    I don’t know that I would wish being an older Christian single on my worst enemy. It is so hard to do and it’s very easy to lose the joy we’re supposed to have for where God has put us. I do know that my time of singleness strengthened my faith for where I am now in my life. There are times where being single and still living at home would be easier than where I am right now, but that’s not where God wants me.

    I have no words of wisdom, or anything to say that you haven’t heard a hundred times already. So I say the trite thing of I’m praying for you, and holding onto the knowledge that that truly is the most powerful thing we can do.

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:15 pm

      Thanks, Rachel. And I know that when you got married, it wasn’t with any kind of idea that getting married would “fix” everything (because of knowing what was going on with your husband’s job right around the time you got married)—I know you entered it with the understanding it would be one of the hardest things you would ever do. And I admire that, and love hearing about how things are going for you as you work through this first year of your marriage.

      And I’d say that the majority of unmarried people out there aren’t looking for “words of wisdom” or advice when we admit that being single is something we don’t always enjoy—as a matter of fact, we usually don’t want those (as I’ve said multiple times already, we’ve heard it all before). We just want empathy and understanding and comfort. And for someone to do exactly what you said you would: pray for us.

  5. Jill permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:07 pm

    Wow!

    I have a different perspective. I’ve been divorced for a very long time and I don’t date at all. I am bombarded with questions because people don’t understand why I don’t date.

    I also get a lot of people telling me, “Ah, you’ll find someone.” Really? Will I? How do they know? And how do they know if I even WANT to find someone?

    I used to think about it a lot. I used to hope I’d find my soulmate while my child was still small, so they could develop a relationship, and I thought I would have another child or two. But now I’m in my early 40s with no one on the horizon, and a mother who tells me my ovaries have probably dried up anyway.

    I don’t mind making decisions on my own. In fact, I’m such a control freak that I don’t want to share making decisions with anyone else.

    When I did have a man, there was no watching of sunsets or comforting arms when I’d had a crappy day.

    I totally understand how you sometimes avoid certain situations, Kaye. I’ve done that, too. A lot of the world (and many social situations) are set up for couples, and if you are single and show up, no one knows what to do with you. Third wheel. Awkward.

    To tell you the truth, I rarely have a moment when I think, “Oh, my goodness. I’m still single. What the heck happened? Where is my husband? My other two kids? My child’s cousins and step-dad? My big house? My big family holiday dinners? My big family gathered around me to celebrate my wedding anniversary?”

    When something like this pops into my head, I try to put it out of my mind. That’s not the life I have. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way. Maybe it will never happen. I’ve got one fabulous kid and we’re both healthy. Maybe that’s it.

    If I’m around friends who have what I thought I would have by now, I get that weird feeling sometimes. Why don’t I have what they have? How hard could it be to find someone? Other people find their someone.

    I just try not to think about it.

    I have a teenager and I’m very busy with my work, and I truly don’t see how I could fit a relationship into my life. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to take care of everything right now, let alone add someone else to the mix.

    Maybe it would be different if someone shared some of the burdens with me. I mean, I’ve been both mother and father to my child his entire life because his my ex-husband has never bothered to meet him. If I didn’t have to do ALL of the housework, yardwork, budget, taxes, errands, etc., maybe I would have time for someone else. Beats me.

    We should be grateful for what we DO have. It’s not always easy, depending on the mood you’re in or the situation.

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:20 pm

      Jill–
      You’re awesome! Just so you know. ;-)

      As I mentioned in the post—and again to Patricia—I have come to terms with being single. Ninety-eight percent of the time, I’m perfectly okay with living alone, doing pretty much everything by myself, making my own decisions, and supporting myself. But then there’s that other 2% of the time—which is what this post is about.

  6. greyfort permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:20 pm

    I think Laura and Jess are reading Kaye’s words and hearing what other singles who do have rose-colored glasses on have said in the past. As a single person, I don’t see Kaye trying to make marriage out to be more than it is or that marrieds don’t have bad days too.

    Its very hard to explain why singles want to get married or why its difficult to be single because there are so many emotions and fears at play when trying to do so. Remember just like God created a “God-sized hole” in our hearts, He also created marriage for a myriad of reasons – one of which is to show us in humanly terms His love for us. Without marriage we *shouldn’t* have children – yet for many people they cannot understand the depths of God’s love for them until they are a parent themselves. It is not bad to crave something that God has created, however man has messed things up and someone of us must suffer those consequences.

    I have the feeling that God never intended Kaye, or me or some of my best friends (well one I think may have been given “the gift” of singleness) to being single, but because of sin and the fact that we ALL have free will, we are forced to deal with those consequences. But the church has the same attitude that was posed to Yeshua 2000 years ago “Why is this man blind?” about singles. They want to blame us for our “sins” without realizing that we live in a fallen world.

    This isn’t a black or white issue. We try to make it into one, but that’s impossible.

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:27 pm

      I think there’s also the issue that unmarried people probably understand a whole lot more about marriage and how it’s supposed to work (and also how it does work) than married people understand about what it’s like to be single. Because, for the majority of us who didn’t come out of single-parent households, we lived “inside” a marriage while growing up (our parents’), we heard marriage taught and preached every single Sunday (morning and evening) and sometimes Wednesday at church. In college, so many of the Bible study materials (especially for women) are focused on preparing to be a wife and mother and taking care of our own family we would one day have. Yet who was there to teach us how to live and what to expect if we didn’t have the husband by the time we were 25 and the first child by 28? Who was there to exemplify the life of a fulfilled single person—someone who desired to be married but who was living life to the fullest anyway—for those of us who tried and tried and tried but could never get anyone to ask us out for a date, much less fall in love with us?

      I read about half of the book Quitting Church last night and drew some very interesting conclusions, which I hope to share over the next few weeks that may help ALL of us, single and married, figure each other out a little better and figure out how we can all minister TO EACH OTHER.

      • greyfort permalink
        Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:32 pm

        Good point! Yes, I agree that we have probably been prepared more than most. After all I’ve gone through about 12 years of those kinds of sermons and classes and people who got married right after high school or college maybe had a year or two of those kinds of lessons.

        Very good point indeed!

  7. Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:26 pm

    Excellent post, Kaye. As someone who’s kind of in between these two worlds–I’m not single, but I’m not yet married–I guess I maybe I have a different perspective sometimes. Even though I’m in a healthy, loving relationship now (and I thank God every day for putting my boyfriend and I in eachother’s paths), it was less than a year ago that I was single and lamenting the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend and seemed to be doomed to a life of ThirdWheeldom for the rest of my life.

    Granted, I also met Phillip about six months after going through a very intense healing process, during which there were too many nights to count when all I wanted was someone to hold me and comfort me. Those nights were horribly lonely, and I went through A LOT of Kleenex and wailed more than a few times about how I just wished I could be “normal.” It took the healing process–and oddly enough, for me, church–for me to get to the point where I was completely comfortable being single. Then again, I’d previously wanted to be in a relationship for some unhealthy, codependent reasons rather than the RIGHT reasons.

    When I met Phillip, it was unexpected, FAST, and felt a little like a whirlwind. But I thank God every day that we managed to come across one another and connect the way we did. There are still moments of loneliness, mainly because commuting three hours a day hasn’t given me much of a chance to make friends in Austin. And things aren’t always rosy, but they’re pretty darned good, even when some things suck (I’m about to get laid off is at the top of the list). Maybe it’s because our relationship is still “new” in other people’s eyes, but having Phillip to talk to and to encourage me (and sometimes give me a swift kick when necessary–figuratively, of course) has made this a little bit easier to swallow.

    That being said, I can barely wait until we’re married. Well, until he proposes. And then we get married. We both know it’s coming, but I have no idea when and knowing Phillip, he’ll do it when I least expect it. *g* I know that marriage will bring its own set of issues, and that, yeah, I’ll still have bouts of loneliness. So no rose-colored glasses here (except for the frames, which are kinda rose-colored, but that’s really neither here nor there).

    I have no words of advice to give that you haven’t heard before (well, that we ALL haven’t heard before at some point, most likely), but I do empathize. It’s hard being single, especially in a couples-driven world. In a way, though, it’s also hard being in a relationship and childless–in a very family-focused society. The looks we get sometimes when we tell people we’re considering never having children…you’d think we’d just murdered their dog or something. *rolls eyes* Depending on our mood, we might explain our reasoning or we might not. ;-)

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:48 pm

      Not looking for advice—but love reading your story. Just sayin’ it how I see it. :-)

  8. Laura in Texas permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:50 pm

    I agree with a lot of what you say here, Kaye, but I think we all should be careful about saying that we understand what it’s like to be in a situation we’re not in (on either side of this issue — or any other, for that matter). I don’t think I agree that those of us who grew up in a home with two parents therefore lived “inside” a marriage. We may have had a front-row seat to much that went on, but we didn’t see it all, and no one, no matter how much time spent with the couple, is “inside” a marriage except the two people in that relationship. We may THINK we know, but we absolutely do not. There is too much that goes on when no one is around that might be entirely different — better, worse, or otherwise — from what is visible to anyone else, including our children. (And all of this is true about anybody else’s life, of course — it goes beyond the married/single issue.)

    One other note — in response to your question about who was there to teach folks how to live when no spouse comes along — can I suggest an answer? Every pastor who ever preached a sermon about living as a Christian, every teacher who ever taught a Sunday school class on godly living, every author who ever wrote a book on developing the fruit of the spirit (or, for that matter, on how to live on a budget or decorate a home or find a job or. . . ). All those things (I’m sure you agree) apply to all of us, and teach us how to live our lives no matter what state we find ourselves in. I’m not sure what kind of special teaching beyond that would be helpful to people in living life as a single adult. Like my earlier question, I ask sincerely for suggestions on that front. I would venture to guess that the reason there are so many classes and books and so on about marriage and parenting is because both are stinking HARD. So many people have so much trouble figuring out how to do those specific “tasks” (roles) and survive. Last statistic I heard was that at least half of all marriages end in divorce — and tragically that statistic applies among Christians as well as nonbelievers.

    I cherish the opportunity to discuss important issues like what’s been addressed in your posts and the comments, and to get insight into both my own situation and that of other people. I love it that people are thinking deeply about these things. I cringe a little, though, at what at times feels like a bit of a tone of . . . I don’t know what — competition? oneupmanship? — in the discussion here, as if it’s important to folks on both sides to establish that (a) they have it harder than the folks on the other side and (b) they are wiser and more aware and more able to understand it all than folks on the other side. Maybe can we all agree that LIFE this side of heaven is hard, no matter what state you’re in, and we all need both God’s grace and each other’s help just to get from one day to the next without crashing and burning? If we could start from there, I’d feel better about this conversation. (Kaye, I’m sorry if I’m overstepping here. I truly, deeply don’t want to offend anyone. And I’m trying very, very hard to see the truth in both sides of this discussion. I’ll shut up now.)

  9. greyfort permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:52 pm

    I don’t mean to speak for Kaye, I speak for myself. You said that everyone who has ever spoken tells us what its like to live a Christian life.

    I may have misread what Kaye wrote but I thought she was talking specifically about all those times in church when, as singles, we have to sit through lessons on marriage and child rearing. And the few times when there lessons regarding how to be single (especially in this sex drenched world) they really aren’t how to be single, they are basically teaching you everything you are doing wrong (otherwise you’d be married). In my previous church not once do I remember the pastor talking about being single except to say “sex is for marriage – you should wait” but quite often he would have marriage sermons and he would say at the beginning “Now listen up single folks, this might not apply to you now but it will”

    That’s not what I need!

    Tell me that its ok to wish I were married. Tell me that you understand that its hard to wait. Instead of just saying “Don’t have sex! Its a sin” build a trusting environment where we can say “man its hard – can I talk to you about this? Can I trust you that if I tell you something it will stay between us?” Help us to feel like we can actually trust people with the hurts of our hearts instead of being lectured. Teach me how to build good relationships with people.

    Oh but we can’t do that. First of all that would mean that we have to teach people to keep confidences – that gossiping is a sin. We have to teach people to be accountable to one another. We actually have to encourage people to work and fellowship together. Its much easier to keep each group separate. Yeah, cause the church is all about keeping everyone separated from each other.

    I know that no one has it easy. I think Kaye is doing an admirable job of laying out the heartache that many singles go through. If we don’t have advocates then people who don’t live in that situation won’t understand. Advocates, by their nature, tend to be one sided. Her posts shouldn’t be about which is easier – singleness or marriage – the answer is neither are – but unless we have advocates who can speak clearly then people will not understand. Just like we have advocates like James Dobson who gives us good information on marriage and children or Mother Theresa about the poor or people that work for Voice of the Martyrs tell us about persecution…..

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 4:17 pm

      One thing that I thought of when I read the lines: “Every pastor who ever preached a sermon about living as a Christian, every teacher who ever taught a Sunday school class on godly living, every author who ever wrote a book on developing the fruit of the spirit (or, for that matter, on how to live on a budget or decorate a home or find a job or. . . ). All those things (I’m sure you agree) apply to all of us, and teach us how to live our lives no matter what state we find ourselves in.”

      Let me put this in a different context.

      If you were a married woman with children attending a church where the pastor was single, all of the teachers were unmarried, and all of the Bible study materials were written by people who have never been married and don’t have kids—how would that make you feel? Like they don’t know anything about your life and the challenges you go through and that not much of what they have to offer about how to live out the Christian life applies to you and your situation. That’s how it is for millions of single adults every single Sunday across the world, getting preached at and taught to by married people who don’t really know what challenges we face on a daily basis.

      • Laura in Texas permalink
        Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:32 pm

        I have been in a situation similar to what you describe, Kaye, and I did not and would not feel that way. I would feel that they couldn’t speak from personal experience about the specifics of parenting and marriage, but that doesnt mean that they have NOTHING to say to me of value, nor does it even mean that I couldn’t learn from them teaching biblical principles of marriage or parenting even though they don’t have that personal experience. The truth is the truth no matter WHO says it. And while being “wife” and “mother” are critical components of who I am, they are not the sum total of who I am. Most of what is taught in church is applicable regardless of my roles. In the church you describe I might well need to go somewhere else to find, say, an experienced and mature wife and mother for the specific practical information, advice, or commiseration I would need in dealing with those roles, but most of what I’ve learned in life came from people who aren’t just like me and whose experiences and roles are very different from mine. Most of the “challenges we face on a daily basis” are very, very similar, regardless of our status or roles; we all have much more in common than we have differences. Your last sentence seems to suggest that you feel otherwise: that your singleness defines you and no one who’s married can understand anything of real significance about you. This seems like a sort of “us versus them” attitude that wounds us all because it isolates and divides. I absolutely want to see the church (by that I mean Christians, not an organization) do what it needs to in order to meet individuals’ needs in their many varieties, but I would argue that each of is more than the roles we find ourselves in, and most of what we endure and struggle with is virtually universal. Loneliness is universal; fear is universal; anger, jealousy, frustration, pain — all the emotions are universal — they may come from different triggers, but the challenge we ALL face is universal: to deal with the difficulties in our life in a grace-filled, Spirit-led way. I agree that in some of the nitty-gritty day-to-day areas of our individual roles we need to interface with people who share those roles and experiences, but in that universal challenge we can get help from any number of people.

  10. Karen Eve permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:52 pm

    Kaye,
    I do understand what you’re saying and as a divorcee of many years, it’s tough to be single. My situation is a little different than yours, in that I have children and now grandchildren, but it’s hard to do life alone and doubly hard when you’re raising children. I was also divorced at a time when the pulpit was not always kind to divorced women, even when the divorce was not of one’s choosing. I can tell you stories about being turned away from renting apartments because I was divorced, and it was legal at the time.
    However, the big thing is missing the relationship that can be so good. Having a best friend for life. Oh yes, you also get to experience the difficult stuff that is a part of living under the same roof with someone, but there is that other person. And yes, it can be difficult to get home after working all day and having to prepare a dinner, but I had to do that for 2 kids, plus take care of everything else. And btw, I still have to prepare a healthy dinner for myself. I didn’t do that for a while after I became an empty nestor, but the results were not good.
    And many churches just don’t know where to go with singles ministries. If you run a social singles groups, many complain that it becomes like a meat market. If you do the ‘learning to live happily as a singles’ route, then people want the social element. Not to mention that generally it’s a single person running the group, and they generally end up getting married and leaving the group. Not many churches assign a pastor to singles, although they will assign pastors to marrieds, college age, etc.
    From experience leading singles groups, what most people want is a safe place to meet others with the same needs, for both studying and social situations. They want to know that the church cares that they’re there and they want to have fun. And, btw, singles who are over 30, 40, 50, 60, etc. want this. And there also needs to be ministry to single parents. I used to facilitate a single moms group, and the needs there are immense. If I ever do it again, I’m including single dads. In addition to this, singles need to be included with couples in fellowship groups. But as Kaye said, that’s a subject for another day.
    Yes, I am content in all things and I’ve been divorced since I was 22. I don’t idealize marriage, I’ve certainly experienced the good, the bad, etc. and have many friends on both sides, married and single/divorced. I am always happy for friends who are marrying/remarrying (except for occasional situation where I think someone is making a mistake) and then I rejoice with them and pray that I’m wrong.
    Personally, as I said, I’ve learned to be content in all things, but I would trade in my single robes if my Daddy was to bring one of His sons into my life. And it would be an adjustment after all these years, but that’s a “sacrifice” I would be willing to make.
    Oh, one more thing. Please, if you’re married and your husband travels for work or for some other reason you feel like you know what it is to be a single mom, please don’t tell that to a single mom. You don’t. Hubby still comes home eventually with a paycheck and his love for his family. It may be hard and challenging at times, but it isn’t the same.
    Remember, give a single person a hug today and try to remember to include them when you’re having people over. You’ll find they’re a great asset.
    Blessings to all,

  11. Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:57 pm

    I’m one of the women quoted and find this discussion fascinating! I’m at a unique point in life where being married is fresh in my mind and I’m dealing with singleness for the first time ever. I met my ex-husband at 15, loved him more than half my life, loved being married for 13 years, and suddenly found myself left alone 8 months ago. (Not really alone, as I have two children and foster.)

    When I say I miss someone to “bounce ideas off” it can be as simple as when I was taking my kids to a semi-pro soccer game in Portland and had to decided by myself whether public transportation was safer than driving myself because of the time of night when we’d be traveling home. I’m solely responsible for choosing our activities, where we invest our time, how the budget is set. And I miss having someone with equal stakes to discuss the pros and cons.

    Which brings me to a BIG part of what I see on both sides of marriage. There are pros and cons of being married. There are pros and cons of being single. I believe Kaye is shedding a little bit of light on the cons here of loneliness, yet not discounting the positives.

    I’m finding–and I know I’m early in this journey–that I’m more satisfied as a single when I do the very same thing I did to find satisfaction as a married woman: focus on My Savior and focus on the blessings in my life instead of what I don’t have.

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 11:31 pm

      I miss having someone to bounce ideas off of, and that actually stimulates in me a more generalized desire for companionship with someone—whether male or female—who is like minded, an intellectual equal, who “gets” my sense of humor, and who understands me and where I’m coming from. And the sad thing about it is, the few people I’ve had in my life who’ve been that sounding board for me (aside from my mom and a couple of current very dear friends) have ended up breaking my heart by turning their backs on me—or, in dating vernacular, “dumping” me. So it becomes harder and harder to develop the level of intimacy required to be able to do that idea bouncing and makes me long to know that there’s at least one person whom I should always be able to trust enough to do that with.

      So my heart hurts for Christina’s having lost that. Because I know, on a much smaller scale of course, what it feels like.

  12. amabry permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:10 pm

    Thanks Kaye for fascilitating this conversation! What an eye opener.

    To those of you who are married I would say while some singles think marriage is the cure to all that ails us, I think those of us who made it past 35 have seen too much to still believe that!

    I know every person on this planet feels lonely, it’s just part of the human expereince. I think the intent here was to talk about what it’s like to feel lonely as one of the downsides of singlenes, not to imply that it is the only loneliness experienced or that it carries more weight.

    I noticed that Laura from Texas started her last post by saying “I think we all should be careful about saying that we understand what it’s like to be in a situation we’re not in” and then went on to say “I would venture to guess that the reason there are so many classes and books and so on about marriage and parenting is because both are stinking HARD.” If felt to me like she was implying the reason there is a lack of helpful material for single adults is because it’s NOT hard. Interesting. Maybe it’s just me but that feels like you’re assuming an understanding about a situation you’re not in!

    Obviously another common part of the human experience is that life is hard, period. I’d be the first to say, there are a million different scenarios in which I could find myself where I would declare this is harder than being a successful woman who happens to be single in America. It feels a bit like you’re making us out to be like whiners because the subject was brought up. I for one am a chin up, plow ahead and make the best of things kind of person and I, like Kaye, am greatly happy with my life 97% of the time. Things could be much worse BUT . . .

    The loneliness I was thinking about in my comment Kaye used above, isn’t the I’m alone again eating popcorn watching a sad movie kind of lonely, I’m sitting at a movie by myself or even I am making myself a meal and really wish I could chat about my day with someone beside my dog. I was thinking of a time I was in the emergency room with a heart problem and I was so scared I couldn’t think much less process what the Drs were saying and the activity in the room. It took all my energy not to be hysterical. In the back of my mind, I knew that should my married friends have found themselves in that situation they wouldn’t have been alone, they could’ve just been afraid and scared for a moment while someone else paid attention and asked the hard questions.

    I was also thinking about the fear of living a life that in someways could go completely unobserved, there’s no guarantee that marriage will provide that indefinitely but there is an expectation that someone is noticing.

    It’s also the lack of sharing your life regularly with someone, even the mundane things like Saturday morning routine or who gets what section of the newspaper first, just being with someone who really KNOWS you and occasionally GETS you. I can hire a mechanic, an accountant, a handyman or any other need that might frustrate me as a single woman. What I can’t do is find someone who I trust enough to every once in awhile let see me fall apart, or know me well enough to know when my “brave got it together” face is just a mask. Again, that isn’t found in every day of a marriage but I suspect it is experienced over the course of building a life together.

    • Laura in Texas permalink
      Thursday, September 24, 2009 8:21 pm

      Amabry — I appreciate your thoughts and the specifics you gave in your comment. I want to say that I did not mean to imply that the lack of helpful material for single people is because that is NOT hard. I understand — okay, maybe I don’t, but I BELIEVE YOU when you tell me — that being single is hard. I perhaps should have said that there’s lots of stuff out there about marriage and parenting because it’s hard AND maybe it’s easier for people (pastors/teachers/writers) to identify specific issues within parenting or marriage — how to discipline your kids or how to deal with your spouse or whatever — that can be addressed in a sermon or a lesson plan or a book. Maybe — I’m just speculating — it’s harder to know how to tailor lessons or sermons or whatever to singles. As I’ve read the comments on this thread, I still am not sure what the church or married people can do to better address single adults’ needs. I’ve seen — and appreciate — a fair amount of identification of what DOESN’T help; I truly would like to hear from the single women participating in this discussion some specific suggestions of what WOULD be helpful.

      And Kaye, you crack me up. We probably don’t need to do away with the institution altogether, but the way it’s done in modern society probably could use an overhaul! :-)

  13. Jess permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 6:10 pm

    “No one was here to comfort me. No one was here to give me a hug. No one was here to say, “We’ll figure this out together.” No one was here to say, “I’ll hold your hand through this ordeal.” I had to deal with everything–financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically–BY MYSELF with no one else here to help me. Ten years ago, when my great-grandmother died, there wasn’t anyone to grieve with me. Again, I had to sit in this empty house and face it alone.”

    What if, on the day you got laid off, someone was there to say “Oh, I guess you’ll be living off of me now? I guess I’ll have to pay the mortgage myself?” There are always two sides to it. No spouse is going to “be the helpmeet” all the time. I don’t want to get all semantic, but God laid down that plan before the Fall. It SHOULD happen that way, (which is why your heart wants it so much) but that’s no guarantee that it does.

    “If someone’s spouse isn’t filling that role of comforter and helpmete, it isn’t the fault of the unmarried people out there who are looking for that comfort and help.”

    No, it isn’t their fault. But it should indicate something about where that comfort and help actually comes from–and it isn’t a man.

    The thing about the wedding was inspired by a specific (very uncomfortable) situation, and I shouldn’t have mentioned it. Of course married men can, and should talk to single women (and offer to scrape the ice off their cars.)

    Think back to the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you–something that hurt you more than the teacher who implied you were dumb or the girl who spread rumors about you in junior high. Chances are, you’ve forgiven that person. Even so, would you want to live with them? Unless you were abused as a child, this is what marriage is–living with the person who’s hurt you most. And you move on, and eventually God can heal your heart, but it doesn’t change the fact that this person who you’re splitting the leftovers with has, at one point (probably early in the marriage) said something that you’ll never, ever forget, and has the power to do it again.

    And what I said about the horrible, draining day–I guess I was putting myself into it too much–when I have a horrible day I don’t want to speak to ANYONE. And I want crackers and watermelon for dinner. And to watch Gilmore Girls.

    I don’t see why they have to have sermons about marriage at all–there are Sunday School classes on marriage, aren’t there? Even if a church doesn’t have many singles, it should consider college students, widows/widowers, etc. It’s just insensitive.

    I know being single is hard, particularly if you don’t live in New York with your three best friends, writing a column and wearing a size 3. But it irks me when people say “I want to be married!” No, you don’t. You might want to be married to a great person, or, if you’re very realistic, a good person. But you do not want to simply be married, any more than you want to eat dirt just to fill your hungry stomach. I know it’s semantics, but the concept of marriage is kind of like one long, unfunny practical joke, unless the right person’s in it with you. And if you’re surrounded by couples–well, at least one of them has had that joke played on them, and they’re worse off than you.

    • Thursday, September 24, 2009 11:37 pm

      “What if, on the day you got laid off, someone was there to say ‘Oh, I guess you’ll be living off of me now? I guess I’ll have to pay the mortgage myself?’ There are always two sides to it. No spouse is going to ‘be the helpmeet’ all the time.”

      That to me sounds like a couple who entered the marriage for the wrong reasons (maybe they had an idealistic view of what married life would be like before the wedding) and have never matured/grown since then, who got married because they felt like the had to (social pressure, parental pressure, out-of-wedlock conception, etc.), or who were so wrapped up in “being in love” they never questioned whether or not they were really compatible with the person they married, and who need serious marriage counseling.

      If that’s what your husband has said to you, I’m truly sorry for you. But you can’t assume that everyone’s marriage is like that, nor that the marriages of everyone who’s currently single and eventually gets married would be like that.

  14. Thursday, September 24, 2009 7:44 pm

    From the comments those of you who’re married are leaving, it sounds to me like we should just do away with the institution of marriage altogether, since it’s so rotten. ;-)

  15. Amee permalink
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:57 pm

    Why is it a competition? I don’t get that. Just because Kaye was discussing being single because she is single and writes about single people, why does that suddenly mean all the married people have to say, “Wait! We have it worse!”? High school sucks, college sucks, getting a job sucks, single life sucks, married life sucks, getting old sucks. Ok, so life sucks. Why discourage someone from living it? Because in essence, that’s what all this talk of how horrible marriage and parenting is saying to me. Kaye never discouraged anyone from being single because it’s lonely. I don’t know why anyone wants to discourage anyone else from being married because their idea of marriage hasn’t been what they actually experience. Seriously, is your worst day with your spouse really worse than never having married them? Is your worst day with your kids really worse than never having children? I am going to assume (I know, it’s not the best thing to assume) that no one would trade those things in because there have been painful times that come with them.

  16. Jess permalink
    Friday, September 25, 2009 5:02 am

    “That to me sounds like a couple who entered the marriage for the wrong reasons (maybe they had an idealistic view of what married life would be like before the wedding) and have never matured/grown since then, who got married because they felt like the had to (social pressure, parental pressure, out-of-wedlock conception, etc.), or who were so wrapped up in “being in love” they never questioned whether or not they were really compatible with the person they married, and who need serious marriage counseling.”

    My husband hasn’t said that to me, but I know women whose husbands have reacted similarly. And it’s not a judgment on their marriage as a whole (there are plenty of abusive men who would LOVE for their wives to be laid off so they could control them, and would be very “supportive” in this situation.) And for those of them who did have hard marriages, guess what? Nothing will mature you faster than a “bad” or a hard marriage.

    No, that reaction didn’t show “maturity.” When something bad happens, is your initial reaction “mature”? If so, great. Mine aren’t. When my grandmother died, my first thought was “Can’t she come back?” Shows a pretty childish understanding of death. Does that mean I haven’t matured since I was 12? No. My mature thoughts came afterward. Marriage means having someone who hears those first “immature” thoughts, if you speak them.

    If he had said it to me, I’d be pretty ticked that you felt that you could judge our whole marriage by it. Getting laid off makes for, as you know, a horrible day, and you can’t judge someone (much less their reasons for getting married!) by a single hard day. If finances are already tight, it’s pretty tough to make the leap to the “helpmeet” response. Because, most likely, he’d be thinking (at the very least) “I work eight hours a day. Where’s MY helpmeet?”

    Of course, when our married lives are difficult, it’s easy to think about having “options” again. And do we picture singlehood as you’ve described it? Of course not. We picture it being like Friends or Sex in the City, carefree, great apartment in the city, coffeehouse every day…but of course, I don’t know a single person who really lives like that. It’s not impossible, but it’s an idealization–just as the person who, when confronted with devastating financial news, will think first of “your feelings” is an idealization.

    • Friday, September 25, 2009 7:19 am

      Wow, I must know some really awesome couples. I can’t think of a single couple where both people are Christians where if they wife got laid off the husband would be an such a jerk. And I can say that because I’ve seen these couples go through other stressors.

      I will qualify my statement because a good portion of the Christian couples I know are families where the wife stays home and actually takes care of the kids; I can only think of a handful where both spouses work.

      However, I can imagine some of the non-Christian couples I know being jerks to each other. Actually I don’t have to imagine it, I’ve seen it. Or the quasi-Christian couples.

      In Jess’s scenario I wonder how close the couples are to God. Most people are born being incredibly selfish. Its only through our relationship with God and drawing closer to Him and placing our trust in Him that we start shedding some of that selfishness. If people’s first reaction to news of a lay-off is “What am I going to do” It is immaturity – spiritual immaturity. Their first reaction shouldn’t be internal but directed to God. And I can say that – I’ve been laid off before. I knew that only God could fix the issue. I’ve had other issues where I’ve been spiritually immature in my response and I’ve had issues where I focused on God. None of us are perfect, we are all going to have different reactions – but we have to at least *try* to remember that God is our provider, He is the one that takes care of us, and we need to focus on Him.

      • Friday, September 25, 2009 11:17 am

        I guess the reason why it’s so hard for me to picture a spouse actually saying that is because I’ve known many couples—from my parents to my sister to a couple of my closest friends—who’ve experienced one of the marriage partners losing a job. And the other partner never SEEMED to have that reaction. Obviously, I can only know what they’ve chosen to tell me, not what was actually said. But in every situation that I have personal experience with, the still-employed spouse was as supportive as he or she knew how to be of the other through the whole ordeal. That’s why I have such a hard time imagining that scenario.

    • Friday, September 25, 2009 1:52 pm

      That scenario makes me wonder the same thing that Leslie has voiced. A Christian couple who is striving to do what God has laid out for them to do should not react in that way. Marriage is a picture of how Christ treats His bride–us! It is to be the ultimate earthly expression of how God loves us and how He behaves towards us. It is not something to be entered into lightly. It is a covenant promise before God, and ultimately when things go wrong it’s the husband’s fault. Either directly or through abdication of his responsibilities.

      That scenario is *not* how God designed it to be and someone who’s first thought is to react like that, it would make me question the validity of their confession of faith.

      My husband was laid off from his job the week before our wedding, back in May. We went 4 and a half months with ZERO income. He has a job right now that’s temporary and an interview at the end of next week for something more permanent, but never once did he ever blame me for anything that had to do with the job situation. And I don’t work. Never once has he even wanted me to look for a job for myself. I just help him look.

      God designed the man to be the bread-winner. I’m with Leslie in that I’m surrounded by couples who have chosen to do it “the old-fashioned way” and be a single income household. That is, generally, how the sexes were designed to function. There are exceptions to every rule of course. We made the decision to be a single-income household and we will not back down from that commitment to God.

      I can’t imagine that scenario either. It’s so far-fetched and out of my league that it smacks of falsehood and a humanistic view of man’s purpose in life.

      • Laura in Texas permalink
        Friday, September 25, 2009 2:24 pm

        I think it’s great that you have those convictions, Rachel, and that confidence that you know what’s right and are able to live by it consistently. The older I get and the longer I live, the shorter the list gets of the “things I know for sure.” I’ve always loved the line from the movie “Rudy”, where the priest tells Rudy something to the effect that “I’ve reached the point in life where I know only two things for certain: (1) There is a God, and (2) I’m not him.”

        I worry, though, about the judgmentalism inherent in the statement that if a person’s first response to a layoff was a bad response, you’d question the “validity of their confession of faith.” You’re suggesting that a person who reacts badly or says something that unkind might not really be a Christian. Maybe you’re 100% rock solid and always react in a godly way no matter what, but I know many, many people who’ve accepted Jesus and love God and want desperately to be godly people but still do the wrong thing sometimes — and they beat themselves up constantly for their seeming inability to “do what they believe”. As I recall, Paul had the same dilemma — don’t have my Bible handy, but I believe it was Paul who lamented how he did “the thing that I don’t want to do, and don’t do the thing that I DO want to do.” Thankfully, we cannot lose our salvation by being human and doing stupid, unkind things. Thank GOD — and I say that sincerely and with grateful tears — THANK GOD that our salvation is by His grace alone and not by whether we’re able to live up to a standard of behavior. Because if it was the latter . . . NONE of us would be saved. The standard isn’t “is my behavior, my choice, better than that of that person over there?” The standard is Jesus, and NONE of us lives up to that standard. Not even close. That’s why He died on our behalf.

  17. Friday, September 25, 2009 7:32 am

    Jess’ comments have me thinking :)

    On one of these posts I mentioned God creating marriage to teach us. One of those things He wants us to learn is to forgive. He routinely tells us that if we hate our brother we have no relationship with Him or that if we don’t forgive others the Father will not forgive us.

    Could it be that marriage is the place where He is using two of his children to work on each other in that regard? He has set up many things on earth to show us who He is and how much He loves us. We do awful things to God all the time and yet He forgives us. Could He possibly have known that one way we can learn to be more like Him is being forced to be around someone all the time and being stuck with them – so we have to learn how to forgive?

    Wow. God is awesome!

  18. Lori C permalink
    Friday, September 25, 2009 8:18 am

    WOW! Catching up on this post sounds a little like and extreme conversation! Either people hate being married or they hate being single and there is some sort of war between those that are single and those that are married. Yes, before you even read further I am married. Yes, I am happily married. Yes, my marriage has faced incredible adversity and we have gotten through it. Yes, I was blessed (or whatever you want to call it) with marriage, and my husband found me I didn’t find him. The only relationship (marriage or single) that is perfect is with God. Everything else is work. Reltationships don’t build without effort or working past the “hello, my name is…” Even that is effort. For my single friends, and there are a lot of them, We talk considerablly about the “wanting ” of a mate. My guy single friends want it too and find it just as difficult as the women I know who are single. Yes, I was single once upon a time, and I haven’t forgotten how that feels. The “finding a mate…” for me, and I am only speaking for me as I am not walking in your shoes, came when I stopped looking. I spent time building the friendships and relationships, I worked and found peace in them and let the rest go. Maybe, for me, that is what God need me to do? Stop trying (because I was)and let Him succeed. I don’t think there is a right or wrong in your season of life. It is your time, but I do know that God has a purpose for what youa re doing right now.

  19. Laura in Texas permalink
    Friday, September 25, 2009 9:10 am

    Man, I wish we could all get together in a room and have this conversation in person. Without seeing facial expressions and hearing tones of voice, it’s hard to get a real sense of the intent of the words or the heart of the person “speaking.” I’m fairly certain that when Leslie refers to “families where the wife stays home and actually takes care of the kids” she doesn’t mean to suggest that moms who have outside jobs don’t “actually” take care of their children, but just as Kaye and others have pointed out how things that married people say to singles can wound, that little word in Leslie’s sentence (“actually”) can touch a deep, sensitive nerve with the moms reading that comment. (As a side note, I also note that at least 50% of all marriages between CHRISTIANS end in divorce; this suggests that even in the marriages that look to outsiders to be strong, committed, and supportive, there may be issues that others don’t see.)

    I don’t think the married commenters here are trying to discourage anyone from marrying. If we trace this thread all the way back, I think the married women were just responding to the dialog that Kaye opened. The intent was not to say that married people have it worse, but to mention the other side of the coin, so to speak. It was not to trivialize the struggles that single women face, but to maybe show our common ground as women: we all have struggles of varying kinds, and very few women have exactly the life they would dream of. My point all along has been that every status and stage in life has both its upsides and its downsides. In the former (the upsides) we as Christians are called to rejoice with each other; in the latter (the downsides), we’re called to comfort each other and help bear each other’s burdens. Acknowledging that someone else struggles or suffers doesn’t mean your own struggles and suffering don’t count.

    I’ll ask again: Can the single women in this discussion tell me what we — I — can do to come alongside you and help? I sincerely want to know. I have several dear, dear friends who are around my age (49) and never married or who’ve been married and find themselves single again. I sincerely want to be a sister to those women.

    • Friday, September 25, 2009 2:00 pm

      50% of Christian marriages ending in divorce is more of a reflection on the church itself IMO. At our church, the small group my DH and I attend on Wednesdays is going through a book called Reforming Marriage by Douglas Wilson. It’s an excellent book and I highly recommend it to any and every married person.

      The church as a whole has lost its way in the minefield of humanism and moral relativity. What’s happening to Christian marriages is a symptom of the lack of understanding of what a Christian marriage really is. We try to look at marriage through the world’s eyes when we should be looking at it through God’s eyes. It’s also a symptom, IMO, of how men have been emasculated by the feminists who say men don’t matter. God created us different for a reason and anyone who tries to deny that is asking for trouble. When a man is a true man according to the Biblical definition, many common marriage problems can be avoided altogether.

      That also makes it easier for the wife.

      • Laura in Texas permalink
        Friday, September 25, 2009 2:04 pm

        I agree with everything you said.

  20. Friday, September 25, 2009 9:59 am

    Laura – I AM SO SORRY! I never meant to say that. In fact I realized when I was originally typing what I wrote that it would come across that way and rechanged what I wrote. I missed the “actually”.

    One thing that married people can do, that I think all single people will agree on, is that when we say how hard it is to be single is for the married people to bite their tongues and not come back with “marriage is hard too”. We get it all the time. I can’t think of a single time when I’ve said something about how hard it is to be single that a married person hasn’t come back and said “Well marriage is hard too” Seriously. WE HAVE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE. But we constantly get belittled and told that we are wrong for wishing we were married.

    So while you were trying to show us the “other side of the coin” you were once again doing the same thing to us that everyone else has done. The wonderful thing though is that you are open to this discussion and you are willing to learn. So next time one of your single friends says “I’m lonely” don’t come back and say marriage is hard, come back to them and say “I know you are – what can I do to help you?” We are all different, so our needs are different, but by asking that particular person what _they_ need, you will be an encouragement to them. This isn’t just a philosophy for single people – this is something that can be done anytime someone, no matter their situation, says “I’m _________”

    • Laura in Texas permalink
      Friday, September 25, 2009 11:19 am

      Leslie — No worries! As I said in my comment, I was fairly certain you didn’t mean it that way!!

      Thank you for your suggestions. One question, though: Do you mean to say that married people shouldn’t talk about their own loneliness or struggles to single people? I think I hear you saying that many single people are particularly sensitive about this issue, so that a response of “I’m lonely too” or “Marriage is hard too” from a married person can’t be received as a . . . commiseration, because it is just too difficult to hear. Am I understanding that correctly? Because I think maybe — well, I can speak only for myself — if one of my friends tells me, for example, that she’s lonely, it might be that it’s taken as an opening for me to admit my own loneliness, not meaning, “Suck it up, single person; you don’t have it all that bad,” but more like “Oh, thank God you admitted that; I’ve been feeling lonely too and I thought I was the only one. Let’s comfort each other.”

      • Friday, September 25, 2009 11:37 am

        you should talk about your loneliness, but not in reference to someone else’s. A great resource that I think you should get is called “Dont sing praises to a broken heart” – its actually talking about grief, but is a great reminder for day to day living. When someone says they are going through something and we then say “I know what you mean because I’m lonely too…” its actually turning the focus back on us instead of keeping it on that person.

        There are going to be times when someone is feeling hurt when hearing that you are feeling hurt too will be an encouragement but I would seek God before saying anything. Keep the focus on that person – at least at first. The first 10 minutes of the conversation should be all about them. (that’s not a hard and fast rule, I’m just giving an example saying – let them talk for awhile)

        On the opposite hand, if you are feeling lonely and upset and you need to bring it up to your friend, do so! Tell your single friend so that she can comfort you and pray for you, just like you’ve done for her. Just not at the same time that she’s brought it up to you.

        Just keep in mind that the knee jerk reaction of most married women to single women is the “marriage is hard, I’m lonely too” response, and that’s why its not viewed as commiseration and is instead viewed as belittling. Seriously, we here it all the time.

        However – you said something in your post that I’ve never heard anyone say before, which is “Oh, thank God you admitted that; I’ve been feeling lonely too and I thought I was the only one. Let’s comfort each other.” – That is an excellant response. There are going to be times when God brings someone where you can minister to each other (perfect thing to say, even right off the bat, to someone) and there will be times when He wants you to just do the ministering. Pray before speaking and ask Him what situation this is. If you aren’t sure, I would suggest again just letting her talk for a bit – the Holy Spirit will let you know if you can help each other or if you are helping her.

        • Laura in Texas permalink
          Friday, September 25, 2009 1:12 pm

          Thank you; this was helpful.

  21. Friday, September 25, 2009 10:05 am

    As a side note – not to puff myself up, but to show that singles can minister to married people too (and should) I am friends with a couple who accidently got pregnant on their honeymoon. They then ended up with 3 kids under the age of four (only one of those was planned). I knew life for them was very tough – she stayed at home with the kids all day and he was trying to get his career started.

    As a ministry to them, I volunteered (they never asked) and watched their kids for them one evening a week so that they could both get out of the house and spend time with each other. I did this for awhile before I couldn’t for other reasons.

    So yes, even single people should minister to married people when possible!

    • Laura in Texas permalink
      Friday, September 25, 2009 1:12 pm

      Absolutely, Leslie. It happens frequently. My kids are older — some even grown and with kids of their own — but some of our single friends are “bonus” aunts and uncles to them and a very important and treasured part of their lives.

  22. Quinn permalink
    Friday, September 25, 2009 10:14 am

    GREAT analogy, Kaye, about imagining the flip side if all pastors were single and gave advice on marriage and raising families. It’s a good starting place for understanding on both sides of the fence.

    To fit right in with what you’re saying, I heard Chip Ingram’s “Living on the Edge” radio program as I drove home from work yesterday, and the topic was . . . wait for it . . . “Singleness – Blessing or a Curse” — and of course, Chip is married. (Guess he thought it was a curse, so he went for the blessing. :-)

    Thought you’d want to see this link — and a few comments from listeners:

    http://www.lotemedia.com/blog/?p=224

  23. Jess permalink
    Friday, September 25, 2009 3:49 pm

    Leslie, it’s interesting that you say you’d wonder how close the couples are to God because of how they reacted…and then say that they need to “remember” God is our provider. The reason I need to “remember” is because I tend to forget. My emotions react first, and then I remember God is in control. Again, maybe this isn’t your struggle. Maybe if your child got into a car accident, your first thought would be “God’s in control.” I’m not there yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not close to God.
    My point with the layoff was not to highlight what jerks men can be. I was saying that when you’re married, you have someone to comfort you, but your problems and “failures” also affect the other person. You won’t just be thinking about how you’ll deal with the problem, you’ll remember that you came into your marriage in order to help and uplift him. Even if he’s caring, you experience regret because, unless you’re very well-off, your professional “failure” is going to affect his livelihood.
    Again, maybe I’m the only one who feels this way.

    • Friday, September 25, 2009 4:06 pm

      I don’t have kids, so I can’t answer to that scenario – but I know that the times when I’ve been hit by a truck while on my bike or been in a car accident the first words out of my mouth were “God!” or “God help!” or “Oh God” – and not being said in vein – it was all that I could say to Him at the time – it was my cry to Him.

      So… I dunno.

      • Friday, September 25, 2009 4:20 pm

        BTW, I never said that men were jerks – I said that people can be jerks to each other.
        :)

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