I'm out of town for a few days enjoying life in Arizona with my mom, grandma and Story! While I'm gone I've asked some friends to share with you! I love all these ladies and am honored to have them on my blog while I'm gone. Enjoy their words and share them with your friends. I know you'll be blessed by all they have to say! Leave them a comment thanking them for sharing their lives with you!
When I saw Jamie’s topic suggestion for this post I almost died with excitement: how can married women can serve single women better?
Uh. I’m sorry, did you just say: Fabs, can you write a blog post about how your life is so hard and how you’re constantly misunderstood? Why, yes. Yes, Jamie I can.
So, (cracking knuckles), here are the top four things I wish all married women knew about loving single women, (and if you’re only going to read one, skip to number four cause it’s the only one that really matters).
#1: Know when to be silent.
I get it. Married life is hard, being a mom is impossible, and if you have to listen to one more single woman complain about another Friday night with the freedom to do anything in the world you will stab yourself in the face. I get that. It makes me want to stab myself in the face and I’m the one talking!
But let me tell you, on the flip side, listening to a married woman complain about having sex or the burden of having another person always there or the irritation of having kids can feel the same way.
Here’s my suggestion: maybe we could all just learn to be compassionate to one anothers struggles instead of comparing; instead of seizing the opportunity for a ‘suffering-off’ we could just listen and love.
Sometimes, it’s okay to just say – yeah. That’s hard, even if you think it sounds like a walk in the park. Life doesn’t have to be hard on paper to be hard experientially. And you can weep with those who weep whether they’re crying over a broken nail or a broken life.
#2: Know when to speak.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your single pals is transparency about your life. Honor your marriage. Don’t gossip about your spouse, but don’t perpetuate the myth that life after you get married is all sweetness and light. If you invite single women into real authentic community then they will inevitably hear firsthand that life is hard – no matter what season you are in.
#3: Know what not to speak.
Here are some of my favorites to avoid:
• You’ll get married when you’re most content. Oops. I don’t know that I believe that all the folks who’ve mastered contentment are married and all those of us who struggle with discontentment are single.
• I was single too, I know what it’s like. Hmmm…singleness at 30 is not the same at singleness at 20 anymore than singleness at 40 is the same as singleness at 70. Sure, we have all battled with the pain and loneliness of a life alone at some point, but that doesn’t mean you know what it’s like to watch the birthday’s come and go and watch your friend’s become married and learn what it’s like to live your life as everyone’s second choice. So there. (pity party invites are in the mail).
• I don’t know why you’re single. Accidental message: singleness is explainable when there’s some huge flaw, and maybe it is. Maybe I am single because I love Dawson’s Creek. It’s entirely possible, but I’m supposed to think about what is actually true, not what might be true, so try telling me instead that I’m single because it’s God’s best for His glory and my joy, (even if He is using my obsession with Pacey as a means of keeping me unattached).
• Any language or expectation that communicates marriage as a guarantee. There are a lot of confused women out here. We’re confused because our parents started talking about our marriage like it was a guarantee when we were still in our cribs. So, we followed their lead and we planned our lives like marriage was a guarantee. And then when it turned out not to happen we were baffled.
Marriage is a great thing to want for your kids. But it’s also not the mark of success in their life, and it’s not the plan that God has promised them or you. Set them up to dream big, trust God to write their story and look with eager anticipation to see what He has planned.
#4: Know what to speak.
Here’s my best advice: treat single woman the same way you treat everyone else. Be real and raw and genuine and authentic. We’re all just people. We’re all a mess. We all suffer. I don’t need to have kids to know what real love is any more than you need to be single to know what loneliness tastes like.
I am a child of God, and if you are too then we have everything in common. Five out of my six closest friends are married. They never go through the ‘checklist’ of the rules for engaging with single women before they talk to me. I’m just their friend. When I have a hard day, they gospel me through it regardless of whether it plays out in a struggle with singleness or a struggle with work. And I do the same for them. There are no places in our lives off-limits. I don’t need them to be single to speak into my singleness and they don’t need me to be married to speak into their marriage.
If you’re a mom who needs someone to be in the same stage of life as you in order to qualify them to speak into your circumstances, you’re in trouble. Because I happen to know a 33-year old single man who wants to have Lordship over every area of your life. (Jesus, btw).
My friendships are built on a mutual respect that has nothing to do with shared experience of a stage of life. It has to do with a shared experience of Jesus.
Love your single friends well by treating them like you treat everyone else. Forget the rest of the rules. Don’t over think it. Don’t be afraid to stay silent. Don’t be afraid to speak.
Just love ‘em, and if you ever master that step you can move on, but in my experience, loving people well isn’t just the starting point, it’s the whole point.
I love Jesus. and I love the Church. I work for the get Trained ministry at The Austin Stone Community Church, and what that means is I get to write and teach women about Jesus for a living. I have a blog to share what I'm learning about the hearts of women, being in ministry and just being a Christian, (the last of these being the most challenging most days). Check it out at www.fabsharford.com
YES. a thousand times, yes.
Another what not to say: “you just need to put yourself out there.” I don’t know what that means, so I’ve started replying to that statement by asking the speakers what he/she means. It turns out that no one who says it seems to know either.
But yes, Fabs, number 4 is it. We shouldn’t need to be in the same place to love each other well, and to pass on the love of Jesus. Love, compassion, and forgiveness, above all else, which is how we should approach everyone, regardless of their season in life.
Fabs – thank you for this! I needed to read it (and read it again). Your words are inspired.
Agreed, wholeheartedly. THANK YOU for speaking truth, for speaking it rationally, specifically, unhindered and graciously. I am *exceedingly* blessed to have friends and family who “Gospel me through the day”–LOVE that phrase!–but thank you for writing this out. SUCH a needed message, and said with such truth and grace. Much appreciated!
Thank you Fabs 🙂
THANK YOU!!! Awesome!
WOWSERS!! so filling and still easy to digest 😀
YES! Thank you. I thank the Lord for the beautiful girlfriends I have and I know that we both (the married and the single) need to learn to love each other and stop the comparisons. We can be so hard on ourselves, we ought not to be so hard on each other.
Appreciate the well-spoken words and the humility with which they were penned.
A friend of mine (single female) linked me (single male) to this post, and I have to say that this advice is dead on regardless of gender. As a single man in church leadership among a sea of married men I too struggle with how to relate and understand or make myself understood. Thanks for writing this and putting words to the struggles we all face, single and married alike.