“What? You have three ladies living in your basement?! I bet you’re looking forward to the day you can have the whole house to yourself. …”
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve received comments like this when we tell people we have three single women living in our home, and have now for over four years. But what I think is even more surprising to them is my response:
“Actually, this has been an incredible blessing to our family. God has used them to show us the beauty of life-on-life Christian community. He knew we would need it in this season of our lives.”
When God first opened the doors for us to move out of a little townhome into a beautiful house on the other side of town, we were shocked and delighted. We had been praying for a place to expand our family and our hospitality for several months, but it seemed impossible — we live in an area that is in high demand, and anything larger than what we were in seemed completely out of reach. But God was working out every detail, and part of this was perfectly lining up ladies to share our home so we could afford the rent payments.
However, I wrestled internally, anticipating all the ways it could go wrong and all the sacrifices I would potentially need to make. I remember walking around the house one day before they moved in, asking the Lord to help me let go of having a place to ourselves. I look back now and chuckle, thinking, if only you had known what was coming, Heather. What I thought was going to be a sacrifice ended up turning into a gift beyond measure. Rather than being a weight on us, the ladies who have lived in our home have served and loved us in more ways than we can count. They’ve been there for us in moments when others, with their own families, simply couldn’t have. We’ve spent hundreds of hours sharing the richest fellowship, whether crying together over hard life things or laughing until the tears stream down our faces. They’ve become some of the dearest, most trusted friends I have ever had.
“WHAT I THOUGHT WAS GOING TO BE A SACRIFICE ENDED UP TURNING INTO A GIFT BEYOND MEASURE.”
Married at 19, I never had a long stretch being single. I went straight from my parents’ home to starting a home with my husband. But we’ve spent our whole married life in a community that has many incredible single people in it, which has given me a unique perspective on just how valuable unmarried people are in the Body of Christ. I see abounding ways that they are contributing in a capacity that I practically can’t as a wife and mother of four little ones.
Sadly, I’ve talked with many single women who feel like they are put in a separate category than married women their age. I’ve been told they often feel left out or “less than” because they aren’t married. But that’s just not true.
The Truth About Singleness
1 Corinthians 7:32–34 says, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.”
In this passage Paul is certainly placing high value on the season of singleness, specifically on a single’s ability to serve the Lord without the “distractions” of spouse and family. And as a married woman with many unmarried friends, I can see this very clearly. My friends are often able to serve in our church and community in a far greater capacity than I am right now, because my hands are beautifully tied to home by the four little gifts God has given me in my children.
They can also be more flexible because they don’t need to coordinate schedules and set aside time to focus on a relationship with a husband. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a wife and mom and all the things that come along with it. But there are so, so many opportunities I have had to decline, and I’ve seen these opportunities filled so well by the women around me who are in a different season.
It is a tragedy when single people and married people are isolated from one another in the Church, because I have seen incredible strength come from living life with these precious unmarried people. Not only have they blessed us, but we have had the opportunity to see God “[settle] the solitary in a home” (Psalm 68:6) as we have welcomed single people into our family, whether for dinner and games or to live for an extended period of time. My husband and I have been able to love them as a couple, offering encouragement and counsel as they are walking through struggles far away from their own families. And, with those to whom we are especially close, we have also been able to ask their perspective on things we are working through with our children or other life situations, because they often have a clear objective view that we sometimes miss.
We have seen a beautiful demonstration of 1 Corinthians 12 lived out before our eyes: “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be” (verses14–19)?
My sisters in the Lord who are single, I want to leave you with some encouragement:
“YOU ARE A VALUABLE PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.”
If you ever feel like your role in the family of God is diminished because you aren’t married, remember: it’s God who gives you your value in this (and every) season. Look to Him, and don’t listen to the lies that the enemy wants you to believe to keep you from fully embracing your days, long or short, as a single person.
Don’t wait until you are married to get involved in the body.
If God has you single right now, then ask Him to help you live this season well for His glory. Ask Him to show you where your particular strengths can be invested in the Kingdom right now. Also, don’t isolate yourself—be involved in a local church and surround yourself with others in all seasons of life who will encourage you and push you toward holiness. We are meant to be doing life here on earth with our spiritual family, with whom we will be spending eternity in the presence of Christ.
God knows your needs and desires better than you do.
He created you. He has not forgotten about you. And He will never leave you or forsake you. He has placed you here for a purpose, and you can fully trust Him to help you thrive in this season you are in, even if it’s not the one you would prefer to be in right now. If you’re struggling with fully embracing this season of singleness, bring this to Jesus, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Be in the Word regularly to remind yourself that God is fully in control, and has not forgotten about you or made a mistake with your life.
A Reminder to the Married Women:
My sisters who are married, as I am, here is some encouragement for us:
“LET’S BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT PURSUING RELATIONSHIPS WITH OUR SINGLE SISTERS.”
Let’s seek them out; ask them about their lives, their joys, their struggles, and share our own with them. Let’s invite them over for dinner, for holidays, or for tea while our children are napping. Let’s show them that they are not forgotten, and that they are important enough to invest in right now — that we are not too busy for them while caring for our families and homes.
Let’s take every opportunity to encourage our single sisters in God’s call on their lives.
As we see their strengths, let’s not just admire them internally, but express these things through our words. When we know they are walking through difficulty, let’s be purposeful about pointing them to Jesus, praying for them, texting them, and doing “just because” things for them. Let’s take every opportunity we can to affirm them in living for Jesus, and thank them for the things they are doing to invest in the Body of Christ.
Let’s invite their input into our lives.
When we are walking through something and think they might have wisdom and insight to offer, let’s not skip the chance to glean from what God is teaching them. Let’s ask them to pray for us and point us to Jesus. Let’s practice the “one another” passages in Scripture with them, just as we would with married women (Rom. 12:10, 16; Eph. 4:32, 5:19–21; Heb. 3:13), and allow them to pour into our lives for the sake of becoming more like Jesus. Let’s always remember that someone doesn’t need to have personal experience in an area to speak truth into it. (Neither Paul nor Jesus was married, but they spoke a whole lot about marriage … and I’ve been so thankful for times I’ve received amazing, biblical encouragement on marriage and parenting from unmarried women.)
The beauty of Christian community is that it is not limited by stage of life, mutual interests, or vocation — it is founded in God. So we should never have to worry that we won’t have enough in common with other believers who are in very different seasons than we are, because Jesus should be our All in All, all the time. May we wholeheartedly embrace relationship opportunities we are given by the Lord to push us further toward holiness, and value the spiritual strength that comes from doing life with all those He has placed in our lives.
Your sister in Christ,