Writing about singleness is certainly not my idea of a good time, but I suppose that is just the reason to do it.
I have been single for 31 years, and while probably the first 21 or so I was praised for my focus and not being distracted by the opposite sex, I have now spent the last decade feeling the pressure.
Thankfully (and one of the reasons I was encouraged to write this e-book) I have had the joy of experiencing a lot of healthy community over the last decade and, quite honestly, I have put in a lot of work along the way to receive that blessing with an open heart.
I have watched as many other singles in my life have gone without deep friendships as they looked for dating relationships, and I have had great compassion for them as I know that must be incredibly difficult.
With this e-book, I want to share with you some of my hard earned “stretch marks” which have helped me in this season of singleness (with no end in sight). I hope they will encourage you as a single person to build authentic relationships with friends or possibly help you know how to support and encourage the singles in your life.
For the record: I do absolutely love the idea of marriage, but I am simply grateful to say I have rarely felt my love tank empty during that time…or at least, not that it was much emptier than it would be even if I were married and in a relationship with a human who could never operate in perfection (that’s an important caveat).
I don’t want to undermine the value of finding a spouse. Rather I want to remind us that, while we may ideally marry one person in our lifetime, we live in a world with billions of other people along the way, many of whom can add a beautiful friendship with great emotional depth even if we have found our “person.”
No one is meant to do life alone, yet no one is meant to life as just two people. As Christians, we are meant to do life together, in community.
Even If we are married, as Christians, we are meant to do life together, in community with more than just our spouse. Learning how to cultivate meaningful friendships while single can help us with this after we are married.
While marriage and family is something God designed, it is something we can end up almost worshipping because it seems like the only way to get God’s good gifts for us. We are designed for intimate relationships, to know and be known. In our social media-based world, where true vulnerability and commitment is disappearing rapidly, our desire for those connections grows. For many of us, we have no idea how to get our emotional tank filled, but we do know where society, and oftentimes, the church points us: directly to dating and marriage relationships.
But is marriage and dating the only place for our emotional longings to be fulfilled?
In the New Testament, we see a church where everyone shares what they have, and they are tasked with encouraging each other and holding each other accountable. Essentially, we, as Christians, were charged with doing life together like a family, called to support each other, and told to do life in close relationship.
Sadly, this is not what I often see when I look around at our modern society.
There is extreme emotional isolation and a fear of true vulnerability, often with good reason based on past personal experiences. This seems to be true in the church as much as outside of it, and it is time we address it and get the church back to how God designed it: a community of family-like relationships and bonds that cannot be broken rather than a congregation of humans drawn together by a love of the same worship songs and teaching-style.
We need deep, family-like friendships. We are indeed designed to know and be known; we see this modeled with Jesus and his relationships. If anyone could have survived on earth without besties, it would be Him, and yet he managed to have more close friends than most of us could even imagine maintaining at once. He had his disciples, Lazarus, and yes, he even had friendships with the opposite sex.
If we did not grow up having to make active effort to pursue relationships, it may seem like a foreign concept. Sure, it worked for Jesus to see a group of guys and say, “Follow me!” and they hopped on board. But what does that look like for us, as singles living in the 2020’s? Especially for those of us who grew up with a focus of relationship teaching being on dating where we as the women were supposed to be pursued. It gets complicated when it is a female friendship where pursuit of closeness is required by one, and eventually both, of the people wanting a friendship. Do we even know how to do that? It may seem like friendship building is a personality trait, something hard-wired into outgoing extraverts, but it is very much a skill set we build and a heart posture we choose to lean into with our God-directed vulnerability.
As an introverted woman who was frequently labeled as shy through my teen years, I am still taken aback to this day whenever someone describes me as popular or when they call me a networker. None of those things were ever a goal I set out to achieve or a place as a junior higher I thought would be possible, but thanks to the love of Jesus, I absolutely love people and being around them (though I still need my solo recharge time), and thanks to my very deep longing for community, I pursue people.
Building Relational Muscles
These relationships were built conversation by conversation and have led me to a place relationally some are jealous of, but the reality is, just like when we look at gym pictures of someone where they are absolutely ripped, we recognize that they chose to set aside the time, the finances, and put in the effort to go and do the work. That is 100% the case when it comes to human relationships. If we wait for it to come naturally, we will never get anywhere worth going. We will sit on the couch. However, if we decide to build our relationship “muscles” and accept all the blood, sweat, and soreness that comes from that, we can all have deep, meaningful relationships like God intended.
P.S. Relational muscles are also required in marriage, so you may as well build them now.
DOWNLOAD THE FULL E-BOOK TO FINISH READING
In this 14 page e-book, you’ll learn how to pursue godly friendships, identify the fears that are holding you back, and take a deeper look at Biblical models of friendship.
A Single Girl's Guide to Friendships That Last
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