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singlepurpose 02/05/09

Singles and Loneliness

We had so much great feedback from our first post. After reading only a few comments, I noticed a pattern emerging: isolation and loneliness! Personally, I think of all the issues a single person faces, this was probably my own biggest struggle, too. So today, let’s check out some truths that will hopefully shed some light for better understanding.

Truth #1: It is normal to feel a longing to be married. I know when you’re single; you start to wonder if it’s wrong that you don’t feel complete. But remember, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a suitable helper…” (Genesis 2:18) God designed and implemented marriage, and somehow He made us with a “missing piece” for a mate. We are relational beings with an innate desire for companionship. Can I get an “Amen”?

Truth #2: Many married people feel isolated and lonely. One of our responders wisely pointed this out and I have to agree. I too was agonizingly lonely in my first marriage. In fact, I was more lonely in my marriage than I ever was when I was single. Hmmm. How can this be? The truth is, if you are in a loveless marriage, or a marriage not centered on Christ, every day you have the disparity between the way you SHOULD feel as a married person (complete) and the way you DO feel as a married person (alone), and the emptiness is even more apparent than if you are not counting on a marriage to make you complete. This is why marriage is not always the answer to loneliness, but the cause of it. It is also why you don’t want to rush into marriage with someone just to solve your ache for companionship.

Truth #3: There is a level of ache that no human can fill. I know you’ve probably heard this before, but it is true. There is a level of ache that is never solved by humans, and it usually is present in our hearts before adulthood…before we blame it on being single. And if you bring this ache into marriage, you become a negative energy (drain) on the relationship, and then you are left more lonely than before because your spouse retreats, unable to fill your heart’s emptiness. The only way to truly solve this kind of loneliness is to do your business with God, getting to the place where your hope for meaning and significance are found in Him, not in another person. A great book on this topic for understanding what expectations are viable to place on your spouse, and what are over the top emotionally is the book by Willard Hurley, “His Needs, Her Needs.”

Truth #4: Marriage does not solve all your problems. Even though it goes with #3, this truth deserves its own category. Many singles know with their mind that marriage doesn’t solve all their problems, but their heart is convinced otherwise. “If I can just have someone to talk to…if I didn’t have to have the financial burden by myself…if I had someone to go to church with…if I had another parent in the house…if I had someone to hold/hold me on the bad days…” So many things we tell ourselves will be better with a spouse. That might be, but you have to remember that when you are married, there are a whole new set of problems that you didn’t have when you were single. And they all arise from two sinful, selfish wills living under the same roof! If only we could balance out our thinking, noticing that for every single person thinking that marriage will solve their problems, there is a married person thinking divorce will solve their problems!

Truth #5: Is the problem your church…or you? As I read your comments about how your church doesn’t have much of a singles program and you feel lonely and left out with all those families around, neglecting you, I remembered how I was challenged in this area. First of all, if there are other singles in your church, why are you waiting for someone else to do something? Why don’t you do something? Start a singles program and organize events and get-togethers. Start a single Bible study in your home (or at church). Too many people in churches are spectators, waiting for someone else to do something, but church is supposed to be a body with all moving parts. If you have a need or a desire to see change, you be the change.

If your church doesn’t have many singles and you feel lost in the presence of families, let me challenge your perception. I have a friend who is a young single woman and she said, “Nobody ever talks to me at church or invites me over to their house.” To which I responded, “Do you talk to them or ask them over to your house?” She gave me a blank look. So many singles take a “victim mentality,” waiting passively for someone to reach out to them, feeling sorry for themselves and left out. Meanwhile the families are oblivious because nobody has expressed a need or reached out to them. Should they be mind readers? Should they always have to be the first to reach out? They are busy people and it never occurs to most of them that singles might feel left out. They probably think the singles are living the good life, unshackled by family responsibility! They would probably be very responsive if you verbalized your need.

Even though I have befriended many singles in recent years in the church who later expressed similar thoughts, I don’t think they once ever let either individuals or the church at large know of their desires to be connected with families. Hey, there’s another ministry idea. Start an adopt-a-single program in your church where families bring a single person on board for mentoring and just plain relationship!

Okay, so now you’ve got a few truths under your belt for the week. What are YOU going to do? Keep your questions coming!! We’ll address questions at least once a week, so get in the habit of checking back every few days!

Julie