Some days I feel like the last single girl in the world. I’m being dramatic, but I am one of the last single girls in my group of close friends. Because of this, I’m often find myself surrounded by people whose experiences have been different from mine.
It can be a feeling of loneliness, but it also creates opportunities to be vulnerable about my reality and help my friends better understand my experience.
One of the most difficult aspects of singleness is feeling like people want to fix you. Since they don’t know how to respond to your vulnerability, sometimes they say the wrong thing. It’s hard to know what to say when someone is walking through something you haven’t experienced the same way.
I can’t speak for every single person, but most I’ve talked to would love to hear these words:
“God has good things in store for your life.”
“You have so much to offer the world.”
“God is doing good things with your life right now.”
“Your life has already started; keep living it.”
If you can look us in the eyes when you say it, even better. Just like Satan attacks you in motherhood and dares to tell you that you’re not a good mom or you have to fight the lie every day that your husband doesn’t want to be bothered by your insecurities, he attacks me too, in my deepest most vulnerable places.
I think we can get better at this.
But we can’t do it without one another.
I need to hear about the difficulties in your marriage, not just that it’s hard, but why, and how it’s worth fighting for. And I think that you need to see the ways that God is moving in my life day in and day out.
We need to break past the surface and Facebook versions of our lives that allow us to covet the lives of others because we don’t know the everyday struggles and the unfulfilled longings deep in each other’s hearts.
Yes, I went to Africa on less than a week’s notice, but the pictures you keep posting of your kids sometimes lead me to fear that motherhood will be a season I never experience.
When Jesus called us to live in community with one another and when we look at how the Early Church lived, it’s clear they didn’t segregate themselves by season of life.
So where do we start?
Reach out to someone who is in a different season of life from the one you’re in. Maybe before you reach out to them, say a prayer and ask God to share with you some truth about them that you can pass on. Maybe it sounds like this, “God put you on my heart this morning, and whatever you’re walking through, remember, He hasn’t forgotten you. He sees you, knows you and loves you.” No matter what someone is currently experiencing, these words are welcome.
Enter into the celebration and the mourning. It feels like a no brainer that when a spouse is out of town the other spouse needs help with the kids and may need help with meals. But traveling is hard on singles, too. So is loss. Remember birthdays and anniversaries, if you can remember to send a card, even better. Celebrate promotions and steps of faith. Keep showing up.
When you ask questions of someone, ask about them as an individual. Don’t ask first about their kids or their spouse, begin with them. How are they doing? What are they feeling? How can you being praying for them?
Start by being vulnerable in your own responses. If the real answer to the question of how you’re doing is lonely, say it. I think you’ll find that your vulnerability, however painful, gives someone else the gift of being vulnerable.
Be unafraid of the awkwardness. I’d rather be a fifth wheel a hundred times than not be invited because of how it may make me feel. And I think my married friends would say that they’d rather be the only married couple in the room than be excluded because they’re married. Keep inviting the new parents; let them decide for themselves if they can come.
The stakes are too high for us to keep getting this wrong. Let’s lean in. Let’s shoulder this kingdom responsibility side by side regardless of whether there’s a ring on your left hand.