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EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to [email protected] (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: I am 26 and have never dated. As of yesterday, all of my closest friends are now engaged or married. I really am happy for them, but I also feel like my heart is breaking. They've all moved on (almost like they have been promoted) to married life and having babies, and I feel very much left behind. I have nobody left to go on vacation with or invite as my plus one. How am I supposed to remain happy for them like this? How am I supposed to trust God when I truly feel overlooked? I know, I am probably selfish for thinking of my own feelings over theirs, but it just keeps on cropping up.
What you are currently going through is a journey most every single person is or has been on.
Since the beginning of time, there has always been one in a group who does something before everyone else and someone who seems to be “left behind,” and this will always be the case.
In college, my closest friends were older, and as they all slowly began getting married, graduating and moving on I could have sat there among sixteen thousand people proclaiming “I have nobody left to go on vacation with” or “nobody to invite as my plus one” (and I probably did for a short period) or pull up my boots and make new friends. I (eventually) chose the latter.
This is all a part of life’s journey.
A pastor who I used to serve under said to me years after our youth staff disbanded, “Wouldn’t it be great to get us all back together and start a youth group?” I thought through the great times and impact we had, but had to say, “Yeah, but I think God can use us more being apart than he can together.”
We all have our own separate journey and each direction has its own timeline and purpose. Although we may be walking the same path for a period of time, they will probably separate because God is doing a specific work in each of us distinct from one another. You may be nearing that crossroad.
What we often don’t realize is most everyone looks at someone else’s life with some sort of envy. My married friends have shared (in jest) they live through me vicariously, by the opportunities I have as a single, while at the same time I would trade aspects of my life for theirs. Through it all though, I have found peace and gratification in the experiences (and new friends) God has allowed me to have on my journey.
Bottom line - if you spend your time worrying and being unhappy about all of the things you don’t have (and not being happy for those you call friends), you will never appreciate the things you do have.
Seek to enjoy this new season.
First of all, your feelings are very, very normal. Just like leaving high school or college and having your friends scatter, changes in life are hard. The longer you are single, the harder it will be to handle your friends getting married and having kids. But there are some ways to make the process easier.
1. Pray and ask God for help. Pray for your friends that have gotten married or getting married, thanking God for their union. Pray for their relationship to be focused on God. Pray and ask God for your part in their future life together. Being a friendship aunt is not always a bad deal. Also, ask God to help you with your own heart in regards to not having a special someone.
2. Don't assume everyone who is getting married is going to live this fantasy life with picket fences. Marriage and family can be very hard - it's not a promotion and you are not being punished by still being single. You need to be prepared and ready to be used by the Lord. My mother use to always say, "You don't know who they are marrying so don't assume everyone has found the RIGHT one. It is better to wait for your RIGHT one then to marry to just be married." Now I know that might not make you feel any better but I have lived being single a lot longer than you and have seen some of my married friends now divorced. Because I do want God's choice, I am willing to wait.
3. Have a "singles shower!" I used to joke with my friends that I am going to have a "singles shower" and get people to give me all those wedding and baby shower gifts. I mean, can't I celebrate being single...but I still need a new toaster!!
The point here is that I have to keep my spirits up. I can't allow what God is doing in other people's lives appear to be more valuable then what he is doing in my life. I love the things I have been able to do and the places I have gone because I am single. I love being an aunt to my friends' kids (as well as my own biological nephews and nieces). Remember what Jesus says in John 10:10.
4. Make new friends. You may feel left behind. But no, you are where God has you, and that is NEVER "left behind." You simply need to pray and ask God for more friends. Friends that are in the same or similar life-stage as you. Now, sure, it may appear as a revolving door, as soon as you make a friend they get married. But, I look at it differently. I can choose to stay their friend, or I say, it was great to be their friend for this season. Who does God have next for my life?
I have learned to value the seasons of life. I stopped watching Hallmark movies that were unrealistic. I even stopped being in my friends' weddings for a period of time, and only attended. And I kept chocolate closeby. But mostly I keep Jesus the closest. I mean, if anyone knew about being single and what it felt like, it was him. (I wonder if he needed a toaster?)
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is ... Kris Swiatocho, the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries and FromHisHands.com Ministries. Kris has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 25 years. An accomplished trainer and mentor, Kris has a heart to reach and grow leaders so they will in turn reach and grow others. She is also the author of four books.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately.
GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to [email protected] (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that this column will be an encouragement to you. Click here to visit the He Said-She Said archives.
Publication date: March 26, 2015