Grateful. Hopeful. Restful.

On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray for women and men to bear the image of God in their unique ways, and for marriage to be given to those who desire it. 

Based on the extravagant displays at the grocery store, it’s apparently already Christmas and I’m already late on everything. Sigh. I feel sad for Thanksgiving, having gotten run over by the reindeer and cookies, and almost a footnote at the start of the holiday rush. But I can’t blame the stores – my heart is often the exact same way. I’d rather rush into the busy than be still and be grateful and be hopeful with the “now and not yet” in so many parts of my life.

I often attribute this lack of “stillness” directly to not being married. That somehow, I have more space to attend every Christmas event. Or I need to keep myself busy to “prove” that it’s ok I haven’t gotten married — “Look, I have friends!” — “Look, I need to attend some parties!” — but the result is the same regardless of my motive: exhaustion and disconnection from God and other people. And I don’t think this is an issue for only single women – I think the pressures of the holidays reach us in different ways, but the underlying struggle might be similar…women often feel that they need to measure up in some way…which is a recipe for not resting and not feeling grateful.

And it’s easy for me to imagine that in some future state with different circumstances, I would be naturally restful and unfailingly grateful. Not quite. It really takes God’s work on our hearts to change those patterns…and I need His work to learn how to rest and give thanks in all seasons.

And so, for me, the challenge for this often overlooked season of Thanksgiving…is simply to be still, remember God’s extravagant goodness this past year, be honest with Him about the true state of my heart right now – whether I’m feeling grateful or not.

The other bit is that we’re headed into Advent, a season which makes more sense every year. We are turning our eyes toward the solid reality of gospel hope while acknowledging that we are all still waiting. We are grateful for the work the Lord has done, and we lean forward to see His next work. We rejoice for His provision, and we trust Him to answer other prayers in His perfect timing. (Perhaps the holiday our hearts really need is Thanksgiving and Advent on a loop through the entire year!)

We are grateful for each of you — praying a blessed restfulness, gratitude and hope-filled Thanksgiving on each of you.

In His Grace,


Posted in Author: Amy | Leave a comment

Accidental Nun: Struggling with Friendship Transition

The Accidental Nun is back for a second week! Join us in fasting and praying during Monday lunch for men and women to be increasingly conformed to the image of God in their own unique ways, and for marriages to be given to those who desire them.

So you know how it goes – you have a great friend or perhaps sibling and the two of you connect on a deep level and have built a solid relationship. And then they start dating. We fast and pray every week for this to happen, but honestly we’d kind of like it if it could maybe happen for us, or at least couldn’t it happen at the same time?? The friend or sibling gradually becomes less available for hanging out and phone chats. You understand this change. You are happy for them. You wouldn’t mind being in love yourself, even as you’re glad for them. And somehow there is still a sense of real loss.

This change is a well-worn road, especially for any of us who have been unintentionally single for years or decades after college. And yet there is another element that sometimes makes this road even harder – you’re struggling with your friend’s new significant other. Maybe it’s a personality clash or s/he isn’t a believer or serious relational red flags or just an vague sense of “This seems off.”

And now the choice is even more difficult – do you fake excitement and see how it plays out? Do you talk to your friend? If so, when and about what exactly? If the relationship is going toward marriage, do you resolve to accept the union, and hope your friendship can weather the change?  What if the connection you shared with your friend seems irrevocably lost?  In short, what are you to do in these situations? Should you hide your feelings that you aren’t excited about your friend’s relationship? How do you navigate the change in your friendship? What do you do with the feelings of loss?

[If you were hoping I could settle all of those questions in one post, I’m sorry. I can’t.]

However, we have an interesting snippet of the Bible to consider when thinking about these kinds of friendship upheavals. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas are in the middle of a disagreement over Barnabas’ inclusion of John Mark on his journey to visit churches. Before this point, Paul and Barnabas were close partners in ministry. Now Barnabas wants to add someone else (albeit not a spouse!) to the mix and Paul disagrees with the choice. In the end, they decide to go their separate ways. In fact, we don’t hear about Barnabas again in the New Testament writings, and Paul moves on to connect with Silas and Timothy for future journeys. He also builds deep bonds with these ministry partners (check out his description of Timothy in Philippians 2:20-22).

So, a few thoughts about these situations…

To me, I think the principle is glorifying God through gospel love and Kingdom priorities. The bottom line of love (the agape, Christlike, self-giving kind described in 1 Corinthians 13) even applies when our friends are being utterly snotty and/or dating people we find repulsive…but in those cases especially, it has to flow from a heart transformed by grace and freed from people-pleasing.

  • Tell the Lord everything. He gets it, because He knows what it is to have distracted friends and be disconnected from those closest to Him (see: Garden of Gethsemane).
  • Look at your side of the street. Ask the Lord to search our hearts and give us discerning eyes for our own stuff. Each of us only has control over our own choices, and it’s always worth taking a look at the things that have stacked up on our side of the street. What is really going on in this situation? Is my reaction proportionate to the situation? Is there any chance there is emotional dependency in this friendship? Are there other dynamics I need to be aware of (even if they don’t make me feel good – like envy or helplessness or abandonment?)
  • Tell the truth in love. If you are very concerned about something in a close friend’s serious dating relationship and you have the relational depth to broach the topic, you might need to have a conversation. Never easy and usually a one-time deal. Ask the Lord for wisdom if you should speak, and then when and how. Do not approach the conversation in a time where you or your friend are distracted, frazzled or angry. It’s usually easier to gently ask questions than to lay out a “case” and hope the friend gets it.
  • Forgive. Let go. If the friendship needs even more separation than the normal distance when a friend gets married, allow that to happen. Allow yourself space to grieve for the friendship that won’t look the way you thought it would look. Ask the Lord to reveal if there is anything for which you need to forgive the other person. Be willing to accept (as best you can) the new relational normal. Take your grief and anger and helplessness to the Lord (and possibly to a few close, trusted friends) as it comes to the surface, but do not expect your friend to carry this burden for you or hold it over her head to try to return to the old normal.
  • Ask the Lord for the next step. It might feel like an empty chasm is in your life where your friend used to be. Ask the Lord where He wants you to be, where He wants your attention, your friendship love and your relational gifts to be reflecting Him in this new stage. Trust that He is carrying you through all the transition, even the awkwardness and grief, to a place where He will keep on loving you, shaping you and giving you places to serve Him.

While we all hope and pray that when our friends find spouses, we can celebrate fully with them, there are still more difficult situations. However, if like Paul, you disagree with the choice and it forces a separation in your friendship, there is hope. Even if a friendship changes or dissolves, God will not abandon us in a relational wasteland. Paul went on to build deep connections with Timothy and Silas, God will be just as faithful in our lives if we allow Him to guide us through the sometimes difficult places in our relationships. Restoration is possible, and you still are following a God who knows and cares for your needs (even the relational ones!) and who has a future for you.

In Him,

The Accidental Nun

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The Accidental Nun: Parents

We’ve asked some friends to share some thoughts (anonymously due to the content!) on the topic of relationship with parents, especially when unforeseen singleness is part of the mix. We’ve cobbled it together and called this multi-faceted friend The Accidental Nun. You might hear more from her (or them) in the future.

Dear FastPray community,

I’ve been asked to step into the FastPray writing mix on occasion to share some thoughts – I’m the Accidental Nun, a woman unintentionally single, celibate, and called by God to learn to walk this unforeseen path with Him.

Recognizing the Impact of Parents

I’ve noticed, whether I want to admit it or not, similarities between my parents and me. Shocking, I know! There is the whole nature versus nurture discussion, but I think we all have tendencies in our personalities and perspective on life gleaned from one or both of our parents through DNA or proximity or example. And the absence (physically or emotionally or both) of one or both parents is just as powerful shaping force. As much as we’d like to imagine ourselves as autonomous beings, we are very much linked to our roots and our genetics. So how does all of this DNA and nurturing from our parents affect our interactions with the opposite sex? Does your parent’s marriage, or divorce, impact your view of marriage? The simple answer is YES!

Exploring, analyzing, and owning the impact our parent’s behaviors and beliefs is valuable to understand ourselves and what you bring to any relationship – but especially potent in dating relationships or a marriage. The influence of our parents can be very positive or very negative, but rarely is it neutral. Just look at David in the Bible – not exactly the best example of fidelity and wedded bliss, and then we see his sons perpetuating the family dysfunction. God is constantly using parenting metaphors to describe Himself, even though He is the only perfect parent! In Ezekiel, God challenged the children of the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt to not follow in the footsteps of their earthly parents:

“I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers or keep their ordinances or defile yourselves with their idols.’I am the LORD your God; walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and observe them. ’Sanctify My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’

God recognizes the good, the bad and the ugly in the legacy of our earthly parents. Thankfully with the grace of Jesus Christ, we also don’t have to be defined or stuck in the patterns of our parents and our DNA. Jesus Christ has come to set all of us (our parents included!) free, and that freedom extends to the ways in which we feel trapped, controlled or defined by our parents’ experiences. I think this is a lifetime process, and never a finished work, and not a situation ever fixed by getting married.

I greatly appreciate my parents’ example of commitment and faithfulness, but there are definitely aspects of their relationship that I find lacking. This often translates to me being extra cautious in forming relationships with men. I don’t take emotional risks; I hide behind my “habit” and wait for the illusive relational safety before opening up in relationships. I’ve recognized this behavior and I’m working on being more open and emotionally available. But I couldn’t work on that before I recognized what was happening. And so, to that end, here are some questions we wanted to suggest for reflection on your parents:

  1. Are there aspects of your parent’s relationship that have you compensating or behaving in a way that doesn’t encourage building positive relationships with members of the opposite sex?
  2. How has your parents’ marriage or divorce, presence or absence impacted your view of marriage? What words would you associate with their relationship?
  3. What role (good, bad or none) do your parents play in your relational landscape?
  4. Where are there wounds with one or both parents that impact your ability to relate to others? Are there places you aware of where unforgiveness or bitterness persists in how you think of your parents?
  5. What things about your parents cause you to be grateful?

Dealing with Parental Expectations:

Another aspect of our relationship with our parents is dealing with their expectations for our lives. My parents, and I’m guessing many of yours, expected that we would get married in our 20s. Not an unreasonable expectation, but their comments reinforced that expectation over many years, and often (not intentionally) left me feeling like a failure as I passed milestones. Understanding my experience of single, celibate adulthood was something outside of their personal experience, and not exactly their dream path for me. How do you cope with the expectations of your parents, when you are wrestling with your own unmet expectations?

It’s not easy! My only advice is to communicate your thoughts and feelings about singleness. It has taken time, but I believe my parents have changed their expectations for me. Their hope for me has shifted from “When will a husband appear?” but “We can pray for a husband, and yet totally trust that God is taking care of her.” As the years progress, we’ve had some honest dialogue about holidays, seating arrangements, the current realities of dating, feeling left out sometimes, and the reality of unmet expectations. While I would have liked to skip these discussions, it’s helped to foster understanding across generations. I know that not every family, especially when parents do not share the same faith, is able to have these sorts of discussions. Or perhaps parents are deceased, and their impact is just as real but not shaped by

It’s a process – and we all have to start where we are today. It’s scary to trust God to open doors in our own heart and gradually in our families and broader communities as well. Seeing how God has used my experience of learning to trust Him more in singleness as a good thing for my entire family has also brought some level of redemption to our family experience of this unexpected path. Trusting that God is not wasting these relational faith-driven steps of learning to be more vulnerable and more dependent on Him is encouraging, especially when it’s scary and seems permanently awkward!

We will never stop being our parents’ children! Learning from our parents and relying on God in the process will help us move towards a healthy understanding of ourselves, and likely of them as well. We’d love to hear your stories of grace and redemption in this place of family, or also questions you are wrestling with in terms of singleness and your family experience. It’s a road we are on together – regardless of how rocky it looks on any particular day – praying with you for grace on today’s stretch of road.

In Him,

The Accidental Nun

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The Anchor Holds

We fast and pray for the Lord to bring men and women into relationship with Him, for men to lead in the church and in relationships, for our hearts to be soft to the Lord’s leading, and for God-honoring marriages for those who desire them.

Transition sucks. There, I said it. When you move or a friend moves or when you aren’t dating and all your friends are starting to, when you decide to throw your whole life into academics again or when you lose your job–the movement from one era to the next leaves me feeling unmoored and a little shell shocked.

I am a post-griever. As crazy as packing everything up and starting something new is, I can hold it together. It’s when I get on the other side that I stumble. I cry. I look back and ask, did I make the right decision? Suddenly, instead of the winds of change that gently move me into something new—it’s a giant freaking storm. Tornados. (I live in the midwest now.) Hurricanes. And, rapid-fire lightning.

Maybe you’re not the one in the transition, but you feel like your life is a stagnant pool. No breeze. No change. Everyone else is moving in and out, and you’re stuck. You’re stuck emotionally/spiritually or vocationally or in that ubiquitous non-existent dating life.

Where is Jesus during those times? What’s He up to?
He is the anchor—and the anchor holds.

He’s in that bit of energy you have left to pray before you fall asleep. He’s waking you up in the morning. He’s the one giving you even a small burst of joy when you see a friend’s shiny new left-hand accessory. He’s the one giving you a glimmer of hope to go on one more blind date. He’s the one who keeps stirring the waters when your life feels like a dammed up river. He’s the one calming the storm—or at least keeping you afloat.

1 Colossians 1:15-19 reminds us:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together…

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things.

As you pray this week, remember that the one you’re praying to is holding you, your life, and your plans in place. He’s in the process of reconciling everything—the tough, broken, turbulent, or lifeless things—to himself.

In Christ,

Posted in Author: Anna | 1 Comment

Rock Ledges and Dating

We fast and pray for the Lord to bring men and women into relationship with Him, for men to lead in the church and in relationships, for our hearts to be soft to the Lord’s leading, and for God-honoring marriages for those who desire them.

Scurrying up the mountain is not their aim; it is the boulders at the top that capture their attention. Climbing, scaling, dangling and jumping to the top of the protruding white boulders sprinkled on the top of the mountain grabs the attention of my nephews when we hike their favorite trail. With significant drops to perilous ends, they fearlessly push boundaries and insist on testing instructed limits. This sends my heart to flutter and palms to sweat as they test my own fear of heights. On one of our trips to this mountain trail, my brother was along and in charge of reigning in the troops. As my youngest nephew, I-man (as we’ve nicknamed him), tested the limits of his father’s authority, he ventured to the edge of our perch. This particular area was popular for rock climbing, as it is a good distance for anchoring and belaying practice. We were at the top of this area and I-man wanted to take in the view to the bottom. Not really important to his notice were the thousands of dry pine needles lacing the path to his lookout, making for an easy possible slip off the edge. My brother firmly stopped his advance and told him that such moves could lead to his death. He apologized for being so blunt, but wanted I-man to know the extent of the seriousness of his attempt to venture to the edge. It didn’t take I-man much thought, when he replied “But if I died, I’d be with Jesus.”

I tell you that my palms are sweaty just typing this, as I think of them making their way around the rocks with fearless, boyish fervor. I-man did have a point and a good perspective on our temporary home, but I’m afraid he missed the mark on a few other points, namely, we like having him around and by God’s grace would like to keep him here. Fear keeps me at least ten feet from the edge of anything over 15 feet, where fearlessness drives the nephews to the edge (and nearly over it). Perhaps there is a balance to be struck in our divergent approaches to rock ledges.

Dating, or trying to find a date, in this day and age is much different than decades ago. Online dating, a transient society, social media, delayed adulthood, and the list of changes could go on and on. Navigating this changed relational-world is much like scrambling around boulders perched on top of mountains. Some individuals approach dating with fearless abandon and rush to any medium available to find an interesting prospect for which to unleash their swagger, much like my nephew approaches rock ledges. Ever attend a singles group? This fearless pursuer is the person that has asked every available single out on a date, and pounces on any newcomer. With little heed to the “slippery, dry pine needles” of a potential date, they forge ahead on their conquest. For some in this camp, the hunt is part of the thrill which keeps them forever on the prowl. For others, they fearlessly pursue, because without someone in their lives, fear grows. The danger here is heartbreak, cynicism, or becoming a serial player. Practicing a little restraint and care for the hearts of others is advised for the serial dater, creating some boundaries in finding dating partners just may help focus the longings of the heart. For those that fear loneliness, searching for the cure in a dating partner will only be a temporary fix.

The other extreme in finding and pursuing a dating partner is to approach the process with the same fear that I have while hiking near rock ledges with my nephews. This might appear to be better than being a serial-dater, but it’s living in fear, something Jesus says isn’t good. It is seemingly easier to stay away from the edge, avoid breaking hearts and the vulnerability that can cause more pain. Surely, at the right time, the perfect person will come along and refuse to allow the defense of fear to be a deterrent from engaging the heart. While this may appear to be the safest route, fear, if allowed to fester becomes debilitating.

Another way that fear enters into the dating world (I believe especially for women), is to become chameleon-like when finding someone of interest. This is particularly easy to do when using an online dating service. There is a desire to connect with the individual featured in the written profile, so someone might be tempted to scrutinize every response to the questions with the lurking thought “is this what they want to hear?” The fear of appearing unattractive or causing them to close down the communication without explanation, can leave someone leery to share real thoughts in an attempt to become what the other party is looking for, instead of being authentic.

There must be balance found in lessons from either extreme. I find that as I get older, patterns become more entrenched, so recognizing where balance is out of whack is important. How are you meandering through the dating/”trying to find a date” world, full of fearless abandon or bound in fear or hanging in the middle trusting that God will direct your steps? Hiking with my nephews is an adventure filled with moments of sweaty palms and a racing heart, reckless abandon and child-like trust, I wouldn’t trade the entire experience because it brings joy to my heart. Perhaps our approach to our years spent in the “I’m available for a date” world should be similar… filled with moments of trepidation, times of abandon, a heart that flutters in anticipation, and child-like trust in a Savior that is guiding our steps.

Some of you might be thinking, that’s all well and good, I’d love some heart fluttering, but there are NO potential dating candidates in sight so what about that? I’ve been evaluating the patterns of my life lately. The old adage of “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results equals insanity” might hold true for our ability to interact with interesting potential dating partners. There is no magic, do THIS, formula. But perhaps I need to sign up for a class, running event, or look for other ways to expand my network. If nothing else, I’ll benefit from exploring my interests!

Here are some verses to reflect on as you evaluate how you approach the whole dating world.

2 Timothy 2:22 ESV – So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Song of Solomon 2:7 ESV – I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.

Proverbs 19:2 ESV – Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

Proverbs 31:30 ESV – Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

James 1:5 ESV – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Psalm 32:8 ESV – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Psalm 119:9 ESV – How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 ESV – For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

Proverbs 19:14 ESV – House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Romans 12:12 ESV – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

1 John 4:18 ESV – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Let’s go hiking!


Posted in Author: Michelle | 2 Comments

Intimate Questions

We fast and pray on Mondays for men and women to be more fully formed into image bearers of God, and for marriages to be given to those who desire it. 

An article on singleness and sexuality was recently forwarded to me by a close friend, and I felt it corralled a lot of the issues that have repeatedly bubbled up when discussing singleness and sexuality as a believers (read the whole thing here!). I think the important distinction between marital intimacy (especially as expressed in marital sexuality) and the intimacy that we all need – married or not – in terms of connecting on a deep level with other humans has been lost in much of the church’s conversation about this topic.

When wedding sermons quote It is not good for man to be alone…we always assume the next line is going to be about how people should get married, but the larger reality it isn’t good for any of us to attempt life completely on our own. Which is exactly why the church is given as the family of God and why intimacy is still a very important topic for those of us not married as of today.

However, finding the right sort of friends, family or church community members to share that journey with is no small feat! Talking about the need for intimate relationships is a different reality than actually building the depth and safety of a friendship where these heart issues can surface and be shared. I am so incredibly grateful to several married friends whose care for my own heart and whose honesty about their own experience has been instrumental in me realizing that we have more in common than what separates us. Life as a woman following Jesus has some common themes, even if the circumstances are different. And I also have friends who have journeyed longer on the singleness road whose compassion and laughter and thoughtful questions have given me hope that I am not traveling a dead-end road by following Jesus in the confusing place called unmarried, celibate, adult life.

During a recent conversation with one of these dear friends, she asked me what sorts of questions would it be helpful for to ask about my heart, my dating life, my sexuality and/or spirituality and my sense of home. What a great question! Here are a few thoughts I had in the process of writing that list for her, but I would love to hear your additions to the list as well!

These are not questions for the faint of heart, and they are not meant to be thrown around without the context of deep friendship – but I believe that asking them and answering them would be a baby step toward building the kind of intimacy that we are all meant for – the deep heart-sharing, life-shaping, soul-encouraging intimacy. 

    • Heart and Soul
      • Where have you felt particularly alive this week?
      • What feels dead?
      • Are you experiencing the love of Christ? If so, where? If not, what could open the door to more of that?
      • Have been pre-occupied with something or someone other than Christ? Who or what has that thing been?
  • Suffering and Joy
      • What have you had to grieve recently that very few others see? How can I share that with you?
      • Does singleness feel like suffering right now? Why or why not?
      • Where is your joy? What are you grateful for today?
  • Life Relationships
      • Where in your life do you feel included? Where do you feel excluded?
      • How is your relationship with your parents? With siblings? With married friends? With unmarried friends? With coworkers? Other folks?
      • Do you feel lonely in this place? How can I share that with you?
      • Are there spots in your life that no one sees at all? Is there someone with whom you can share them?
      • Who sees the most of your life right now? Are those folks able to speak truth into your heart?
  • Dating & Romance
      • In terms of dating / romantic life, what is encouraging? What is discouraging?
      • What do you hope for in this area? What can we pray for together?
      • Are there relationships from the past that are causing any issues for you right now? Are there soul ties you need to break?
      • Is hope alive? Is hope dead?
      • Where have you seen the goodness of your femininity this week?
      • Where have you seen the gift of the “other” in masculinity this week?
    • Sexuality
      • Do you feel healthy and balanced about living celibately?
      • Are there dark spots, addictions or triggers you have noticed recently in this area of your life?
  • Big Picture Kingdom Stuff
    • What are your hopes for life this week / month / year?
    • Are you happy with the amount of time you spend with children? If not, what do you want to change?
    • How are you living out imago Dei in terms of “mothering” or nurturing life in this season / this chapter?
    • Are you making big life decisions out of an emotion other than trust? Do you feel called to something new right now? What is it?
    • What life “question marks” are looming right now? How can I share them with you? 

In any case – would love to hear your additions to this list, and praying for us to each know the love of Christ more clearly and more deeply through the lenses of being known by our sisters and brothers in Him.

Praying with you and for you,


Posted in Author: Amy | 6 Comments

When I Feel Unchosen in Friendships

On Mondays at lunch (or whenever since Amy forgot to send out the post on time), we fast and pray for men and women to be conformed to the image of God more and more, and for marriages to be given to those who desire it. 

One of the hardest lies for me to fight is the lie of being (or seeming to be!) unchosen. The largest piece of that is usually with men, and feeling that all the dozens of dates and relationships are a waste of time since no one seems to ever pick me anyway!

But if men have made me feel unchosen in the marriage realm, my girlfriends can be a close second in the friendship realm. Living fully in the reality of adult singleness often puts more pressure on same-sex friendships. And sometimes that pressure can morph into something unhealthy and codependent. That being said, even in the healthiest friendships, there is often a transition season when one party starts dating seriously. And another transition when he or she gets engaged, married, moves, starts a family, and so on. If you’ve been single for more than a year past college, you’ve been through this dozens of times and you know what I’m talking about!

When you’re the person starting the new phase, life is full of action: anticipation of the relationship or wedding or baby is usually mostly positive with tinges of grief as you mark the clear end of the previous chapter. To the friend not starting the new thing, these changes can feel more like equal parts celebration of the good gifts, and dread of the inevitable distance the new change will produce. In this changing season, one person’s priorities are shifting toward the upcoming chapter and the other person’s priorities are (roughly) staying the same.

That season of change often seems, to me, to be a very real experience of feeling unchosen – this time because the new boy or new baby are taking up more room in my friend’s life. And I am absolutely, utterly grateful for those good gifts in her life, but I am also very aware of the million subtle ways I feel her saying: “I have new priorities. And you are still in there somewhere, but you’re a bit lower on the list than before.”

Maybe it is the closed bedroom door while she talks to him on the phone for hours on end. Maybe it is the excuses for out-of-character behavior changes or forgetfulness. It is the news she forgot to tell you, the questions she forgot to ask you, the cute boy in your life she doesn’t know about, the things in your life she has no idea she missed. And it does hurt to feel that distance in a friendship.

And in the face of those very true and felt realities, it is very tempting to isolate myself, retreat into resentment or bitterness, and tell everyone else how horrific my thoughtless friend really has become. Those options are easy and visceral and don’t touch the actual problem. This is one of the places where being single takes immense courage that very few other people actually see. The courage to choose love, the courage to choose forgiveness, the courage to hold a friendship with open hands, the courage to trust around the relational blind curve.

To that end, here are a few thoughts on going around that corner:

Cultivate healthy friendships. Start with Jesus. If your relational world isn’t centered on Jesus, one friend’s change can throw the entire orbit into disarray. I sadly speak from experience on that one. Jesus is the rock, the unmoving center, the One whose word holds the stars in place. He isn’t going to shift on us! When He is our anchor, we have the safety and freedom to take relational risks in friendships…whether that means starting new ones, letting go of one, staying in one during a weird season, or risking embracing solitude (hard for those of us who are extreme extroverts, but I’m trying!). On this front, it’s also good to ask the Lord if there are any friendships where I am leaning on this person for things that only Christ can give (identity, security, protection, etc).

Forgive and keep forgiving. Anna’s post on forgiveness is still one of my favorites because I need to refer to it so often. Take your wounds to the One who was wounded for us. He carries our griefs – nothing is too small for him, and He alone can free us to forgive…and keep forgiving. Again, no one else might see this reality in your heart and maybe no one will celebrate your monumental decision to let go of a situation that is burrowing bitterness in your heart, but Jesus sees! And I’m celebrating for you and with you! This practice has been incredibly freeing for me (after, of course, it’s incredibly difficult).

Trust the Lord with your friendships. Michelle’s two-year rule about married friends is a good guide. Let the Lord shape and reshape your social circle. Does this get exhausting? ABSOLUTELY. Do I wish I were able to have a relational “home base” with a spouse? ABSOLUTELY. And have I seen the Lord provide relationally for me, to place the isolated in families, and to care for me in the smallest ways? Yes, just as absolutely as I have longed for the spouse and a pause to the merry-go-round friends. The strange thing is that this process of longing and reshaping has also made me more hungry for heaven where our true Bridegroom satisfies our longing hearts with the permanent reality of His presence.

Follow Jesus on the path He’s put you on today. Don’t let another person, even a close friend or perhaps eventually a spouse, be the dictator of your joy in Christ. Your name is written in the book of life, You have an imperishable inheritance in heaven, You have a God who gives his children bread and not scorpions…He is enough. No man is enough, no children are enough, no money is enough, no outcomes are enough, no experiences are enough, nothing on earth will satisfy. Instead, I want to risk truly and deeply living today exactly where I am…even if that means by I have to start by sitting down and weeping from the bottom of my heart about the longings that have gone unseen and unmet by human relationships.

In short, the reality is that true love does and should alter our priorities. Love keeps our hearts warm when circumstances whisper “despair.” But the truest love is something we all have access to in Jesus Christ. It’s not something reserved for people who met certain circumstantial criteria like marriage or kids. We have access to Love himself in Jesus Christ, and He is moving toward us with compassion. That is good news for all humans and all friendships.

By His Grace,


Posted in Author: Amy | 6 Comments