Last Woman Standing

On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray for men and women to be shaped uniquely by God into God’s image, and for marriages to be created for those who desire it.

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Standing on the laurels of singleness is hard to do alone.

I could pretty much stop here. Need I say more?

We entered the halls of grade school and found a classroom filled with potential friends. Notes were passed, friendship pins exchanged, sleepover parties attended, and “See, see my playmate” sung. There seemed to be a wealth of friendships to be had, and enough time on the play ground to last a lifetime.

Before we realized what happened we walked across a stage, received a piece of paper, and were booted out into the world to forge our way as adults. Some of us ducked back into the halls of institutional learning to earn a stamp on another piece of paper, and to form deep bounds of friendship over the shared collegial experience.

From here, people began to pair off and enter marriage, start families, and build careers. Suddenly the dynamics of friendship changed. No longer was there a throng of people our same age with shared life experiences waiting to befriend us (unless you went to work at a college), now forming new friendship and maintaining old ones required greater effort.

As more friends married and had children, it became harder to find single friends to hang out with and fill our Friday nights with activity. This week I was talking with someone in her late 20s and she commented, “It’s just as hard to find single friends as it is to find someone to date/marry.”

Sure, I appreciate my friendships with women across all generations, married or single, with kids or without, but there is something for having a (or more if you can find them) single friend to do life along side. You can call them at 11pm because you know the call won’t wake a spouse or child, they are free to travel, and share in the frustrations of dating (or the lack there of). Let’s face it; there is comfort in knowing you are not alone in singleness.

When a good friend of mine recently started dating, it ripped me apart and sent me into a world of emotions with which I was unfamiliar. I felt alone, abandoned in the desert with only my tears for water (and I’m not prone to exaggerations). I’ve been through this transition so many times before, but this time I looked around and didn’t see many single friends left that I shared similar interests with and who would join me on adventures.

Somehow, I feel better about being single when I can look around and see other “normal” single women around me. I’m not a misfit! When you’re seemingly the last single woman standing, it’s easy to adopt the leftover mentality and begin to examine your life for a “reason” you weren’t picked by a man. There has to be a reason EVERYONE else was picked to play in the game, after all that’s how it worked on the elementary school kickball field (those chosen last had no skill).

There is a message by Tim Keller entitled, Sexuality and Christian Hope, where he declares adult singleness is revolutionary. We have the opportunity to rise above cultural norms and expectations, and shout, “Jesus is enough!” We don’t have to adopt the leftover mentality of not being picked by a man, because we were chosen by Christ to be His joint heirs, lavishly loved by Him (Romans 8:17). Being single, content and complete is revolutionary! Equally as revolutionary is being married, and staying married, content, and complete. Human relationships are not what complete our lives; we are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

The dynamics of friendships will constantly change, but one thing I know to be true… in the times when I felt the most alone and abandoned by human relationships and I’ve turned towards God… He has not disappointed.

Enjoy the blessings of today, because tomorrow there will be new ones.

Single, but not alone!
Michelle

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27 Responses to Last Woman Standing

  1. Michelle says:

    Nothing like a song to reinforce things in your heart and mind.

    Hilllsong “Alive”

  2. Rebekah says:

    Thanks for that thoughtful and transparent post, Michelle! I would agree that a significant part of the tension comes from the recurring experience of not feeling like I “belong.” In Christ, we do have value and purpose! These stories have the opportunity to shape our faith and help us find our confidence in Him (as well as testifying that to others).

  3. tbabe29 says:

    Christ really is enough. I remember being in my late twenties and most of my friends were married and I did feel very left behind and forgotten by God. And then I started a new chaper in my life in my thirties, dated, had a boyfriend, broke up, had new single friends, but then they all paired off as well. But the whole time, God was forming inside of me, the truest dreams in my heart- and now at age 43 (and very single), I am probably the most content I have ever been. I have watched marriages and divorces. I have witnessed all kinds of relational heartache that has shaped my perspective and caused me a new level of gratitude for my freedom. And I met some new single friends—some divorced, in their forties. It does make this single life much easier when you have perspective. And single friends.

    • Michelle says:

      On one hand, it’s sad that perspective on our singleness is gained from the relational heartache of others, but I totally know what you mean. Perspective is valuable, single friends priceless, and a God that continues to work on us… lovely!

  4. halennox says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks so much for posting this. I admire, so much, the bloggers of this website. You put your heart and soul out there for those on the Internet to read and critique and analyze! Thank you!

    I was interested to read your posting today. And I listened to a bit of Tim’s sermon. I can’t agree that Jesus is enough. I know – that sounds practically heretical! (is that the right word??) Hear me out though… I believe that Christians need to strive to be satisfied with Christ more and more. I think we probably spend most of our time on earth (or should spend most of our time!) learning how to love God more, to enjoy time spent with him. But, I offer that the very existence of the fast.pray community is a testimony to a longing where Christ is NOT enough. I believe that God himself knows and understands this. After all, he created marriage… In the Garden of Eden, after creating all things that were good, he said, “It is NOT good for man to be alone”. This was prior to the fall of man! Prior to sin entering the world. Adam had perfect relationship with God! Surely God would have been enough. But God says it wasn’t.

    I understand where Tim’s message is coming from in regards to “staying single” (Paul’s letter to the Corinthians)… but many Bible scholars (Clearly, I’m not a Bible scholar!!), would argue that Paul’s encouragements to stay single were to the church of Corinth at a certain time when being married was adding undue stress to people! As we consider some of the things Paul endorsed (women wearing head coverings, women not speaking in church), many don’t hold fast to all of those teachings in the present time.

    I DO believe that we must learn how to grow in our contentedness with Christ… to learn how Christ meets us where we are. But, I don’t know if there will be a time when I can shout “Christ is enough!”, because I’m not sure that I was meant to…

    Thoughts??

    Curiously enough… there are Bible scholars that say that Paul was married at one point in time… and Tim Keller is married.

    • Michelle says:

      Hello! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that from the beginning God created us to be relational beings (not good for man to be alone). I believe that the source of our relational contentedness is found in a right relationship with God, after all, it was in the perfection of the Garden that He provided Adam a partner in Eve. If you listen to the message from Tim Keller starting at 16:45, he goes into a full explanation into the revolutionary nature of living a fulfilled single life. I don’t think we should live lives devoid of human connection, because “Christ is enough!” Quite the contrary, I think our relationship with Christ allows us to have deep connections with other believers, marriage being one type of relational connectedness. To say that “Christ is enough!’ is to believe, hope, and trust that God is working all things to our good… that whether the desire for marriage is ever fulfilled, God remains our paramount focus, and we will be okay.

      Curious if others have thoughts on this?

      • connally says:

        Yes, I’d only add that to say that “Christ is enough!” is really a comment about where our hope is lodged. It is a statement, I think, that exists is linked to but not quite the same as the question of desire. He really is the Way, the Truth, the Life. One might desire until she dies for marriage, or for her husband to kick his drinking, or for her two children who are not reconciled to each other to make peace, or for her only daughter to get married. It might be a desire to see pain relieved or consolation embraced. There is nothing wrong with this whatsoever! Oh, and so much right. We never want to kill desire.

        But simultaneously–and it is hard to live with this tension, I know–we must fight the illusion that THE SOURCE of LIFE is the fulfillment of our desires. CS Lewis says this so well in “The Four Loves” that when he speaks about erotic love (and the desire for it)–It is is a prince, he says, having its rightful place of existence in our wiring. But when we “make it a king, it becomes a demon.”

        I think of that widow who begged repeatedly for justice. Or the neighbor who kept knocking on his neighbor’s door for 3 loaves. He wasn’t told “Oh, man shall not live by bread alone!” in some vague attempt to spiritualize away his hunger. And the widow’s persistence was commended! But I think it was, and needs to be clear, that really, it was (or is) the Judge and the neighbor, not even the right-to-be-sought-after justice or bread, in whom the Hope was fundamentally vested.

        When we say “Christ is enough!,” I think we are simply saying that he is the One who we trust to supply what we need, when we need it. It is a statement, really, about his consummate goodness and trustworthiness–before, during, and at the end of the day, even if that day has human tastes of goodness that leave us euphorically grateful (which is great!) or aches that drive us to our knees (which carries a greatness of its own).

        • halennox says:

          I like your point about the Source Of Life, connally – the caution to watch that it doesn’t become “when my dreams come true”… Love it.

      • Ginger says:

        Michelle, I agree with you. I have a hard time processing my thoughts into words so bear with me. Our ladies group had discussions week after week of just talking about our every day events and struggles and most always it came back to “Is He enough?”. It was and continues to be, at times, very difficult to get to that point and believe that Yes, He really is enough! Before I was married, I felt like I was a misfit. A leftover. Unwanted and invaluable. Exactly what the enemy would want us all to think because when we reach that point, he makes us ineffective for Christ. One night, frustrated and deeply saddened that I was “alone” and single I turned to the Word and God led me to the passage from Paul where he said it was better for man not to marry. It led me tears because I thought God was telling me, this is what I want for you. After calming myself down I learned two things about myself. One, I learned that it wasn’t that I was afraid of being alone or single for the rest of my life. It was that I was afraid of what everyone ELSE would think of me that I wasn’t married. I was unlovable or “there must be something wrong with her” – because there are people out there that think that way about single people. At that time I was quite happy where I was in my walk with God and being single, but I had bad days, too. And if I traced my thoughts back far enough it always came back to this for me – I was more worried about what other people thought of me being single than the Truth that the Lord says about me. The other thing I learned was, what I thought Paul meant by that passage. Paul says that a single person can concentrate on a life more for the Lord rather than when a person marries, they want to please their spouse. I get that now. Before I was married, I could go and participate with anything or any event that I wanted or felt led to participate in. Now that I’ve been married for 2 yrs, and I LOVE being married, by the way… it IS different! I love being married to my husband, but life is different now and blending 2 lives and 2 families together is very difficult sometimes. More of my time and devotion that I used to do ministering/fellowshipping with others is now occupied with my relationship with my husband. So I completely get what Paul is saying why it’s good for a person not to marry. It’s not to say that as a married woman or as a couple we can’t minister to others, but it is different. I don’t know if any of that made sense or not. I do believe wholeheartedly that God IS enough no matter what situation someone is in. Because if He isn’t, then we turn to something else to fill what isn’t enough. As an example, people can turn to their spouse when really they may need to be turning to God. Michelle, I thank you for your honestly and in pouring out your heart. We love spending time with you! 🙂

        • Ginger says:

          ….and just to add to that last piece…I find myself, now that I am married, looking to my husband for him to fill needs of mine that he wasn’t meant to fill. I still can’t believe I get to be married to his man because I think he’s such an awesome husband to me. I was convinced there were no good men left – ladies, there are great men out there. If only I had chosen to see my husband 5 yrs earlier through God’s eyes rather than my own we may have been married sooner. But I find myself going to him to meet my needs when it’s the Lord that supplies all my needs. I have to constantly remind myself that our God is enough. He always has been, He always will be, but will I let Him?

        • Michelle says:

          Ginger, Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. You offer a valuable vantage point as someone that experienced an extended time as a single adult before getting married. And I like spending time with you too!

      • halennox says:

        Good points! I like how you say that we do believe, hope and trust that God is working all things together for our good…

  5. Anna says:

    Great post, Michelle!

  6. Jacqueline says:

    Thank you! This is a very timely post for me. I can relate in so many ways. The inadequacy of feeling left over, or left behind. A very close friend of mine moved out of state and she has met a potential man to date. I was amazed of how much that affected me. I felt all kinds of ugly human emotions. Not only was my sense of singleness highlighted but all my insecurities and fears of abandonment surface. I just want to be content in a Christ, as is, but I also want to be joyful for my friend. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Michelle says:

      I’m right there with you. Will be praying for you during this transition for contentment and joy to fill your heart.

    • Kara says:

      I can identify with those feelings when a single friend or family member “leaves you behind” and you feel so many things. Thanks to Michelle for your excellent post. I will listen to Dr. Keller later – I am a huge fan of him, but I have not listened or read anything from him about singleness.

  7. Heather says:

    Beautiful!

  8. shalawn says:

    Great post! and awesome sermon. I really needed to hear that.

  9. Virginia says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. You have captured what don’t are feeling. We stand in Christ together.

  10. Annie says:

    We few, we few, we waiting few! I’m standing with you, sister; and I definitely know what you mean. Thanks for this!

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