Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Inviting Singles into the Church’s “Married Community”(3/3)

What does this mean for those who are Married:
(1) Singles Want to be Your Friend
You have no idea how frustrating it is to become friends with married people. Singles want to be your friends, to become friends or to maintain friendships with you. Often we are relegated to a lower social status or circle when being single. This means friends get married and suddenly tend to spend all their time with other couples, new people they have met. Sometimes a single meets a couple, tries to initiate a friendship and is shut down. We don’t care if your house is dirty or if your kids will be hanging around. We want to share life with you. And sometimes single friends make great free babysitters (just sayin)... but we aren’t doing that unless you are a true friend.

(2) Invite us to do Something
I find with a lot of my married friends that I have to be the one to invite them to do something. Just do not invite, hang, and befriend us out of pity. I do not pity you for being married or having children, so don't pity me for being single.

(3) Give us suggestions for Friendships and Dating
Most single are looking for someone. We do not want to be alone but it is difficult to ask others for help in a world that assures us in our Independence and self-sufficiency we can find someone by ourselves. Stats state; however, that most married people are introduced through family and friends. Why not have an open ear and heart regarding this towards your single friends. Don't feel we have to like them or things have to work out, but we will appreciate the thoughts and effort. Of course to do this, you have to actually have friends who are single.

(4) Hear us (and Reciprocate)
We long to be heard, truly heard and not pitied; however, friendships go both ways and sometimes friendships with those who are married are very one-way. The single expresses themselves and the married person listens, gives advice, and says have a nice day. Where is the reciprocity? Any true friendship has reciprocity. Let us know how things are going for you. You don't have to talk bad about your spouse. You have other things likely going on. Asking for our advice lets us know you respect and care for us as a person and friend, that you value our opinion.

~Single Me

Inviting Singles into the Church’s “Married Community”(2/3)

What does this mean for those who are Single?
(1) Stop Looking Down on Yourself
You are a wonderful, unique, and awesome creation of God. You, all by yourself, are a wonderful and interesting being. You do not have to have anyone else to make you whole. You have your own identity, your own interest and hobbies. Develop that identity; deepen who you are in Christ. This will help you know yourself, and help you to build a wider community of friends.

(2) Say Yes to Being the Third (or 5th or 7th) Wheel
It can be odd, yes some married or those in relationships can make it very odd - but the truth is it doesn't have to be. You will be able to find married friends who value you and do not throw your singleness and their married-ness in your face. Invest in friendships with others who want to know you. Also, be willing to be both encouraged and challenged by those whom are married. And most importantly, feel free to encourage and challenge those who are married as well.

(3) Know Married People Have Problems
Like those who are single, married people have problems as well. They have two careers. Two lives they are attempting to mingle. Two sets of good and not-so-good qualities. Just as singles have issues, so do married people. Being friends with married people gives you a chance to stop romanticizing dating or being in a relationship. Yes, have hope and feel free to be romantic, but be realistic and know relationships take hard work and you'll want to have a best friend by your side.

(4) Have Opposite Sex Friendships
I know you are afraid of how it may look. Others might think you like this person (and you may or may not like them). It will be awkward at times. You'll have to work on setting boundaries, especially if your friends are in a relationship or married. But let’s be honest, the real reasons Christians don't do this is because we are afraid other people will look down on us, we may come across as too forward, or we are worried about our own confusions or possible attractions. Here is the question: Do you believe that friendship is worth the risk or do you want your life to be ruled by fear? That is the real question. Besides, what better way is there to work on communication, setting boundaries, and getting the inside-scoop; than having opposite-sex friendships. And who knows, a friendship with a single female may turn into something else.

What Does this Mean for Those who are Married?
To be continued...

~ Single Me

Inviting Singles into the Church’s “Married Community” (1/3)

Understand the Stats on Singles in the Church and Why they Exist:
The truth is most of the church caters to those who are married (with children). The church does not cater to singles; those who have never been married, those who are widowed, divorced, or celibate. There is a huge hole in church ministry, for despite the fact that singles in America (and the American church) now make up 50% of the population there is a lack of community and friendship between these singles and their married counterparts. Look in any church and ask if half of those sixteen or older are single and you have your answer.

How does this happen?

First, many adolescents stop attending church by choice; whether by lack of interest, conflicting activities, or friendships. Additionally, many stop attending church once they get into college either questioning their upbringing or they stop going since they are no longer “required” to attend (they lack a solid personal spiritual foundation). For those who do still attend the difference isn’t truly felt when singles are in college or graduate schools as there are often many opportunities to pursue (and places that provide) community. Sadly, those singles left at ages 22-25 try to attend some church for a while but normally end up dropping out until years later when they are married and have kids, around age 35*.

Understand Those Who are Single:
Perhaps you are single and your friends are in relationships or getting married. Perhaps you are in a relationship and feel scared of moving forward or of ending it. Scared to be alone and scared to fight for what you want and desire most.

Singles live in a world of fear. Fear we cannot speak about because it shows our faults, our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses. The question that begs to be answered is: Why am I still single? And if singles dig deeper the scarier questions: What is wrong with me? Or Is there something wrong with me? Why can't I find someone I connect with? Someone I'm attracted to? Someone who will walk alongside me in life? Someone who will be there when I wake up and when I go to sleep? At first many of us have roommates to help possible feelings of alone-ness or loneliness, but as people move out to get married or pursue careers, we have the relegated options of living with our parents or living alone. We opt for alone. We know no other acceptable way, especially for males.

I felt after publishing the series I wrote a few months ago, "The Truth About: Being Single", that it might be beneficial to say that what I wrote, the feelings and thoughts, do not have to be the end of the story for those of us who are single, or even a part of the story at all. We as the church, as brothers and sisters in Christ, can create a new story, a new Kingdom community, one where we are not bound by class, gender, marital status, or any number of things which tend to separate and divide us.

But to reach past this issue here takes intentionality...
Intentionality on those single and those married.

To be continued…

~ Single Me


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On the Tide of (Fleeting) Friendships (2/2)

In a world where friendships are fleeting and people seem to be forgetting each other, how long before those in the church stop being friends and just people all attending a ritual event each week? How long before people in the church stop trying to meet new people or introduce singles to other singles?

In a culture where friendships are zip-and-done, how do we disciple others to follow Christ if we can’t even understand how Jesus called someone his "friend". In a culture that hails in high-esteem individualism and public image, how willing are we to be daring, to be brave, to be courageous? If we can’t even be friends, can we be brothers and sisters in the faith? If not, then how are we different from the world? Then, are we not merely full of selfish ambition, only seeing our own self-importance? Where is the care for the other?

What will the future of friendships become?

These questions need to be asked and are far from being answered, far from even being known, since the internet and texting are still relatively new technology in our culture. Still, even now I often find myself questioning if the benefits outweigh the potential downfall. I often wonder if I closed my Facebook how many "friends" would notice and reach out? If I refused to ever reply to a text but required friends to meet with me in-person, talk on the phone, or through Skype - How many friends would oblige? How many would take the time to sit and talk, to carve out time?

In a world where friendships are fleeting, expendable, disposable - the next step is that all others beside us become the same. We become a world full of self-seeking narcissist, all competing to see who has amassed the most wealth, the greatest status, and the greatest number of friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter. We live lives of no depth, no care, no concern.

I see this tide coming. I try to fight against it but it seems like a wave coming to overtake, like a hurricane coming towards the shore. One person or even a few cannot fight this wave of disillusionment. However, if each of us would make a change, if each one would do something different; put down their smart phone and speak to a stranger, sit down with a new friend, delete those “friends” on Facebook who we haven’t conversed with in years, or simply call up an old friend to catch up.

Well, we just might have a chance at having significant friendships.
Friendships with Significant Depth.

~ Single Me

Friday, March 6, 2015

On the Tide of (Fleeting) Friendships (1/2)

I remember a time, a time when friendships were in-person, a time when friends met in-person instead of over the phone or through the internet or a text. I remember actually hearing people’s voices, seeing their body language and picking up on all the nuances from knowing and seeing someone in the flesh.

Friendships like this are sadly becoming abnormal, so it seems.

In our world of busy-is-good, where we are always seeking to reach out with and through the newest kind of technology, I fear while we may gain, we are losing something terrible at the same time, human connection. I am trained in a profession where I learn how to listen, how to hear, how to be; yet I see increasingly that the world is moving at a faster pace. Stillness is not a virtue. What we don't realize is when we give up being able to sit still and talk, we give up the ability to listen, we give up depth, we give up being vulnerable, we give up friendships, and we give up community. We become millions of individuals all connected through technology but most of us only related on the shallowest level of friendship possible.

When we cannot sit still, all the friends we make seem deep at first until we move onto the next thing. The problem is, there is always a next thing and we develop the seeming inability to make a new friend, reconnect with the friend we made last week, or friend we have't spoken to in years. We have already run miles from that context and are so wrapped up in our own world we forget and are often blind to those we have left behind... and for those of us who realize this is going on, we may feel it is us who have been left behind.

It seems like with this fast-paced world, you can meet a friend in a certain context; at school, church, or work - but when you try to initiate contact outside of that mutual context, things tend to get awkward. It's initiating us out of our comfort zone. We have unknowingly labeled that person, regulated them to a specific part of our life and out of that comfortable context we seemingly have no idea what to do with that friendship. 

In our world where everything has to be labeled, we have lost the art of good conversation, good communication, and knowing that it is acceptable and even good perhaps to make ourselves go through situations or friendships that are undefined, unclear, awkward, vulnerable, even daring.

~ Single Me