On Mondays we fast and pray for godly marriages for those who desire them, and for men and women to become clearer, deeper and stronger bearers of God’s image in their own unique ways.
What can I possibly add to the 9 years of blog archives that hasn’t already been said? Probably not much, because I’ve been preceded by some pretty amazing women with wise words. So as I contemplated how to wrap up my season of writing regularly about singleness, I figured the best way is to part with some stories.
Retired man: Are you married?
RM: Can you hurry up and get married so you can buy my washer and dryer?
Me: But I already own a washer and dryer!
Why do people assume single people don’t participate in normal life activities like owning houses and appliances? It seems there will always be people that don’t understand singleness and make comments out of ignorance, and not to be intentionally hurtful. Our job is to educate and give grace to those that have never walked our road.
My challenge is to not allow these possibly hurtful comments to stick in my heart like arrows, arrows with the poison of bitterness or the potential to cause atrophy. Whether single beyond the “normal” age, married without children, or another path that challenges convention, people will often not understand and speak words that shoot like arrows. I have a choice to become hard-hearted and not allow anything to penetrate my heart or turn away the arrow with kind words and grace for the archer.
Provers 15:21 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Ephesians 6:16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Going It Alone
I’ve often had people say “So you did such-and-such alone?” My response is typically, “Well, if I wanted to do such-and-such, it was either alone or not at all, because I couldn’t find someone to join me!” It could be as simple as going to the movies or a restaurant, or as involved as a road trip or living by myself. I don’t necessarily like doing stuff alone, but I’d often rather “do” than not. This is probably the area of singleness that is the most challenging for me, not having a built-in partner for adventure. I realize that even in marriage, I’m not guaranteed to have a spouse that will join me for my every whim, but it’s at least possible I’d get some participation. God has blessed me with some great friends through the years that have joined me on adventures, and I’m so grateful. A recent idea for a great adventure showed me God’s faithfulness in both having people join and in going it alone.
I’m currently between employment gigs and wanted this time to be filled with more than just combing the internet, so I set out to do what I’m really good at… planning an adventure! My family was worried about my safety if I ventured alone, so I prayed that if this crazy idea was to come to fruition I would find some fellow sojourners to join me. Well, it worked out that I had 6 people join me for various lengths of my bike ride from DC to Pittsburgh on the C&O and GAP trails. I was only by myself for 1.5 days and two nights of the trek. God answered my prayer for company!
God also came through during the time I was alone! Last Monday morning I set out from camp alone on the trail, biking 64 miles to the next campsite. It was going well, until a severe thunderstorm rolled through causing more challenge than one little girl with small-ish muscles was prepared to handle. As I biked on, after hunkering down behind a tree during the storm with a nice couple from Atlanta, I came across many downed trees as a result of the storm. Getting my bike, loaded with gear and food, over these trees was more than I bargained for on this adventure. I didn’t count, but it felt like 15 – 20 trees with one section of about a ¼ mile filled with tree after tree. Some of the trees were 3 feet off the ground! I ended up taking my panniers off of the bike and carrying the gear ahead and coming back for the bike, leap-frogging my way passed the downed trees. Someone forgot to bring bug spray, so the mosquitoes were excited by the fresh meat available during this leap-frogging activity. I had no option but to move forward and get to camp, turning around would have required too many miles to get to a campsite, so I pushed on.
When the trail finally broke free of the downed trees, I hopped on my bike and pedaled the last 5 miles to camp. I was fighting hunger and chasing daylight! Tears began to well-up in my eyes, because that was seriously tough! Thoughts of facing challenges like this alone made me cry more. Then I thought of all of the people that face challenges every day that are physically and emotionally exhausting, I just had a hard afternoon, they may have to walk miles for water or toil in back-breaking work that will never get them enough money to be free from their indentured labor. I cried some more.
I was so thankful that I wasn’t stopped on the trail where the storm wreaked havoc. I was thankful that God saved me and gave me the strength to push through the trees and get to camp. Another thunderstorm rolled through at 3am, but I was safe and dry. That day was tough and pushed me to the end of myself, but into the arms of God.
The next morning as I ate my oatmeal, I shuffled the music on my phone and the first song up was Never Once by Matt Redman, followed by Sovereign by Chris Tomlin and My Lighthouse by Rend Collective. God met me in the middle of the woods and encouraged my heart. I had another day mostly alone and a 51 mile bike ride ahead, including a 25 mile hill climb, but I knew that God was with me, no matter what I faced.
Life is going to throw us challenges. We may be alone or surrounded by a crowd. Ultimately, what matters is where we look for our source of strength? If I had been biking with another person when I hit the downed trees, it would have been tough but we could have worked together to lift and shove. Although, I probably wouldn’t have cried as much, prayed as much, or looked to God for strength if someone else was present. I’m learning to use these alone times to build a greater dependency on God. A spouse can’t and won’t be able to meet all of my needs or be the support I need all of the time, so I’m continuing to be challenged to fully rely on God.
Isaiah 40:28-29 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Embrace Life to the Fullest
If there is one thing I’d love to communicate to all women, it’s to live life to the fullest! No matter the letters before your name, God has an incredible journey for you. Take risk, love hard, pray harder, walk on water, follow Jesus where He leads, and laugh every day. You may feel cheated out of your heart’s desires, but I promise God sees you. God has not forsaken us! Don’t allow what you don’t have to cloud what you do have… Life in Jesus! Some of my favorite verses are
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 – The Message (MSG)
In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
Do you smell of LIFE in Christ?
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)
Thank you for reading and praying with us!