“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)?