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 another’s 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 birthdays 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.