Feeling isolated, alone, or lonely is a common struggle for singles. And you may imagine that finding a boyfriend/girlfriend and then getting married will solve that problem. (Talk to married people; that’s not necessarily true!) Connecting with others when you’re single can feel difficult.
Contemporary culture provides the impression that the “average” person has lots of friends, and that the way to connect is through looking good externally, drinking, sex, or something similar. So why do you feel as though something’s missing? Why can’t you feel satisfied with the superficial of social media, parties, etc.?
Church culture only helps a little. Many churches seem to focus on marriage and children. Even if you’re part of a “singles ministry” it may seem such a group is an afterthought, a temporary place where leaders allow “unfinished” people hang out. Once you get married, and ideally have children, then you’ll really be part of the church.
If Jesus, the most Fully Alive human being ever to exist on this planet, lived single, can’t we do better with a theology of singleness? And what does all this say about connecting with others when you’re single?
Not everyone will get married. And include those who have yet to get married or who have been previously married, and there are a lot of single people around. I’m one of them.
Living Fully Alive as a single means being intentional about your relationships, as intentional as any healthy married person needs to be about their marriage. Here are a few ways to do that.
Take Responsibility for your Relationships
Married people must invest continually in their relationship for it to remain viable. As a single you need to do the same. Waiting for others to seek you out, to understand you, to fill you up is not healthy. Be exceedingly grateful for those who invite you into their circle! But you must learn to feed yourself.
What that looks like will differ based on your personality. One of the benefits of singleness is that you have a wider array of choices in the types of relationships you can invest in. And you can choose to invest most in those relationships that lift you up, or where you have something to offer.
If you struggle with relationships, it’s your responsibility to invest in getting healthier. That might look like pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone, attending a therapy or support group such as Celebrate Recovery, or getting some professional help. And as with getting physically fit or developing any new skill, those investments may take time to yield fruit.
Ask yourself: what actions am I taking to invest in the relationships I need or desire, or to become able to invest in such relationships?
Instagram posts and text messages are fine, but they do not constitute nurturing real relationships. Look at some New Testament models of friendship. Jesus closest disciples did everything together even after He returned to heaven. Paul’s companions on his missionary journeys were all-in for each other. Such relationships are far from superficial.
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you need at least a few people you go beneath the surface with. The “standard” small-group structure of most churches is still superficial. You may need to work hard to go deeper.
Some Christian singles are exploring shared living arrangements with other singles or with married couples to provide mutual support and to deeply “do life together.” (And that’s NOT boy/girl shacking up!) Accountability partners can provide mutual support in addressing heavy life challenges. There are mentor/mentee relationships, long-term small groups, and other ways to go deeper.
Ask yourself: who do/can I talk with when I have a problem?
If you answered “no one,” you’re not alone. But it’s up to you to find the relationships you need.
Look Beyond Yourself
Looking to other people to meet all your needs, whether you’re married or single, will always result in disappointment. Relationships are as much or more about what you can give than what you can get. And in the process you receive more than you could have imagined.
You have almost certainly heard from people who demonstrate this; those who have gone on mission trips, or volunteered to help people in desperate need, or otherwise given of themselves often say they received so much more than they gave.
So lift your eyes from your own problems, and look for who you can bless. Take the initiative to express sincere appreciation for someone who has blessed you. Call someone who is facing a challenge and offer your support. Invite a few people to your home or apartment who would never be able to invite you back. Look for who God places in front of you who needs help, and find a way to make their lives better in some way.
Ask yourself; who am I giving of myself to in some way?
The quality of your life in the future, and your usefulness in God’s kingdom, will be significantly improved as you learn to invest in relationships.
Your Turn: What grade would you give the quality of your personal relationships? Which of these three steps do you need to pay more attention to? Leave a comment below.
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- Connecting with others as a single is your responsibility. Don’t wait for others to invite you in. You take the initiative in these ways. Tweet that.
Even Online Connections can Help!
The Fully Alive Group online community is a place you can receive support, encouragement, connection, and inspiration in dealing with all kinds of challenges; mental/emotional wellbeing, sex and sexuality, healthy relationship with God, and more.
I’d love to have you as a member! See you inside the group.