Hey Sweet Friends. Have you ever started something with an idea of what it would be and what your role would be only to realize that God’s thoughts are indeed higher than your thoughts?
NO? Well then, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore, because I don’t believe you! But my gracious, I’m just jumping right in aren’t I?
Y’all, I know we are just three posts in but I’m already wrestling a bit with the Lord about what He is asking me to share. In fact, I sat on my couch this morning as I journaled and worshiped, and I wept. In that sweet, affirming way He does all the time when He is asking me to do a thing, everything I read, listened to, or watched pointed back to that thing! So, while I sat on my couch this morning and Holly Furtick from Elevation Church unknowingly spoke directly to my heart, I wept and asked God not to make me talk about singleness again in this post.
“Not two posts in a row, Lord. Please. I’ll talk about it again but give me something else to say first. I can bring it back in post 6 or 8 but not the very next one!”
He asked me questions about why this was my reaction in the still small way He does and the junk in my heart began to surface.
“I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I don’t want people to look at me in pity. I don’t want them to write me off because I’m just the woman who always talks about her singleness.”
Another question came…Do you write off a mom because she always talks about her children? Do you write off a wife because she refers to her marriage?
Okay, then. Kathryn, you are allowed to talk about life through your lens. I gave it to you on purpose.
Hiccup, hiccup, sob, hiccup.
Sweet Friends, the residue of shame is thick. I don’t know if any of my single friends have ever felt this but it is real in my life. To be clear, God has given me SO much freedom from it but when I couldn’t even name the thing I felt for over a decade and a half…an embarrassment over having never been chosen by a man…that residue is still there.
It’s in conversations like this that I had with the Lord where He continues to clean it out.
If you were hoping for a blog from someone who has it all figured out and doesn’t still weep over her heartaches, I’m so sorry to disappoint you.
When I started seeing my new counselor in August she asked me what I wanted to accomplish. How would we know when we were done?
I told her I wanted to be able to talk about my singleness without feeling shame and without crying…well, we are obviously not finished and my insides are screaming, “OH MY GRACIOUS…I am so glad I didn’t know in August what God was going to ask me to do in February! I would NEVER have made that first counseling appointment!”
So, Sweet Friend, I am going to speak from my experience and that experience is one of a 40 year old woman who grew up in a Southern Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia, who has waited for the Lord to come through for her in the way of a husband and a family and He hasn’t yet and may never…and I am finally okay with that.
Whenever it is appropriate for me to speak from that experience, I hear the Lord saying, “Yes, you, Kathryn”, and so I will, and I hope even if you can’t relate to that experience you’ll stick around to glean from it.
I have the best Moma. Everyone thinks so.
I’m serious. Almost every one of my friends absolutely LOVES my Moma. Two of them actually fight over her…Patrice and Tabata, I’m looking at you!
I have the best Moma, and if I didn’t have my friends to tell me how awesome she is I would only have to look as far as the Hallmark Channel to tell me.
I love the Hallmark Channel. I’ve always had a large amount of affection for their movies but the “cheese factor” put me off for many years. I would watch them, but I found myself yelling at the screen, if not out loud then certainly inside, “That is so unrealistic! That would never happen!”
In 2019 I got some news that I’ll save for another conversation, but it’s relevant because that news had an effect on me I didn’t anticipate. I couldn’t watch anything on TV anymore where there was even a question of whether someone was going to die or if it was all going to work out in the end. I remember the first time I had a grief induced panic attack because one character unexpectedly pulled a gun on another character. That was the day I stopped watching some of my former favorite shows.
Enter the Hallmark Channel. And once March 2020 hit, where everything was uncertain? Forget about it! Hallmark Movies are almost ALL I watch now. It’s because of the “cheese factor” and because of the predictability that I watch them now! My heart simply can not take the unnecessary, uncertain things anymore. So, I watch all the movies now.
The ones that have me cringing are the ones with mean moms. Mom’s who don’t listen to their daughters when they ask them not to set them up anymore. Mom’s who make their daughters feel less than because they aren’t in a relationship.
I have the best Moma. She has held me as I wept after getting a phone call saying that my roommate got engaged over Christmas. I was 31. She has lain in bed with me and wept over the end of a relationship I thought would end in marriage. I was 31. She has listened…just listened and held space for me to vent my frustrations with the men in my life and with the Lord. And when I grieved over what I could never have the chance at, she wept with and for me. I was 38.
She has done all of that, and more, but she has never once made me feel less than because of what I do not have. I really do have the best Moma.
As I put a call out on my socials asking for the words and experiences of others I was again, so incredibly thankful for my Moma. My Daddy is pretty great too, but bless my Moma, she has borne the brunt of this experience with me.
A family member of one of my friends actually told her, “We’ll be closer once you’re married too.”
I’m sorry, what? What does being married have to do with being able to be in a close relationship with your family members?
Comment after comment left me speechless with people’s tactlessness and downright stupidity.
I get it. When we are uncomfortable with something, we don’t know what to say, so sometimes we say things that are hurtful.
I have absolutely done this! I am not above this, however, there is something about being on the receiving end of this over and over, that has taught me to be more careful with my words.
I can’t tell you everything you need to say in a situation that makes you uncomfortable but I can share the hurtful things that have been said to me and my friends. Also, before I get to that I want to pose a question…if you are uncomfortable with singleness, yours or someone else’s, why? Chew on that for a bit and get back to me!
Okay, now onto the list of things not to say or ask…
“You don’t know how lucky you are to have so much free time/money/or energy.”
First of all, how do you know we aren’t thankful for those things? So thank you for keeping your presumptions to yourself. Second, I can be thankful all the while hoping for something else. My desire for a husband and family does not mean that I am not also thankful for what I do have. Thirdly, you might be able to say something more condescending but why would you want to try?
Ok, this is going to take a long time if, after every one, you provide commentary, so keep it together, Kathryn!
“I know I had a lot of sin issues to be worked out before I got married. Your time will come.”
:::coughing noise::: I’m sorry, what?!? This takes presumptuousness to the next level. I hear you ask, “Someone actually said that?”
Yes. To a friend of mine and to me in not so many words.
Do you know how many people have suggested to me that for some people the Lord just needs more time to get them ready?
SO MANY! Like, I’m more broken than the people in my life who have gotten married.
There it is…that is the more condescending thing to say…by far. May I remind you that the man who God inspired to write over half of the New Testament was never married?
And getting ready for what, exactly? Like getting married means you have arrived?
You know, they aren’t totally wrong…The Lord is getting me ready, but not for that marriage. He is getting me, and all Jesus Followers, ready for an eternity with Him, when He will return for His Bride, the Church. For some, He uses marriage to bring that holiness about. For others, He uses parenthood. For others, He uses singleness and for others, He uses barrenness.
Which leads me to one of the most hurtful things I have read recently. It was written by one of my beautiful friends on a post on social media. She was bragging on the Lord and His faithfulness in her marriage…she meant for it to be encouraging to her husband and others. I know her heart and so without even talking to her about this I know her motive would never have been to hurt my heart but she wrote,
“Marriage is the place where holiness is built.”
Where am I supposed to find myself in this? THE place where holiness is built? I want to grow in holiness too. Is there no place that mine can be built?
This is the intentionality behind small words that I talked about in If Instead of When. If she had said, “Marriage is A place where holiness is built” I wouldn’t have thought another thing about it. But y’all, that THE stopped me in my tracks.
The subtle arrogance behind the idea that marriage is the superior thing that holds a mirror up to your selfishness, or your pride, or your sin, is not helpful to those of us who aren’t married. I take your marriage and I raise you with the Word of God. That is the only mirror any of us really need. It is full and complete and cuts between bone and sinew. It is living and active and will never fail. How many of you who are married can say the same thing about your spouse?
And I can’t speak for my other single friends, but for me, when I come home to an empty house, night after night, and Jesus is the only other person I share my home with, there is plenty of holiness that is built in that space as well.
Another thing not to say…
“You have plenty of time!”
As if time has ANYTHING to do with whether or not God ever intended for me to be a wife and a mom. I got so tired of hearing this that I actually started saying it myself so I wouldn’t have to hear anyone else say it…”I know, I know. I have plenty of time!”
You want to know a secret. I never really bought it. It always felt like a cheap thing to say, never costing the person who said it anything but always costing me more than I ever wanted to spend every time I heard it. Sometimes I would scream on the inside of myself, “HOW DO YOU KNOW?!?” How do any of us really know how much time we have left on earth.
Y’all we have GOT to stop saying that!
Alright, this is taking way longer than anticipated…I have two more things.
First, the statement,
“Being single is a gift. Cherish this time.”
Yea, no! Stop talking and just keep walking.
To be clear, being single is a gift. However, I imagine that this was said to my friend after possibly being vulnerable with someone about how she was feeling about her singleness. In grief, in frustration, in pain she shared this and then like her pain shouldn’t matter because she should cherish this time, her singleness was deemed a gift from someone I am guessing was married. Yea, no! You know what else are gifts? A spouse and children!
Secondly, the question never to ask is,
“Why are you still single?”
I can hear that exclamation come from friends over the years who LOVED me! I know they loved me…but every single time I wanted to scream back, “I DON’T KNOW! When was the last time you tried to introduce me to one of your husband’s friends? Or when was the last time you prayed and asked God to bring me my husband?” Like asking me that rhetorical question is supposed to make me feel better about my singleness?
Please hear me…I have some amazing people in my life and for those friends who are wondering even now if you have ever said anything to hurt me in this way, you are so forgiven! You were forgiven almost as immediately. I don’t air out all of these hurtful things to cast blame or to cause you any shame so I speak against those things in the Name of Jesus. I simply want us to hear what we say through the lens of another’s experience. And I really, really want this generation of single 20 or 30 somethings to sidestep the hurt I received by the words of well meaning people who loved me.
Now, to those single 20 or 30 somethings, women and men…I’m going to let you in on a question for you to never ask.
“God, when is my story going to happen?”
Sweet Friend…your story IS HAPPENING! Right now. Today! It may not be the story you want but your story is happening. Maybe the better questions to ask the Lord are, “God, no matter what you have in store for me, would you give my heart peace? Would you give me YOUR vision for my life? Would you give me the courage to accept that vision, no matter what it is?”
Y’all our life is now. We do not get to push rewind.
Sweet Friends who are married, I’m going to make a request on behalf of my single friends. This week I want to challenge you to pray for some of your single friends. Ask the Lord to help you really see a couple of them and then I want to challenge you to do something really risky. I want you to reach out to them and ask if there is anything they need prayer for in regards to their singleness. I said risky because there is no sure formula for how they will respond individually, but remember I also told you to talk to Jesus about it first. I’m believing the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say.
They may balk at the question first but here’s what I know to be true…there are many times I feel unseen in my singleness and being seen in all the things that make you you, well that is freeing and healing. You could be that for someone you love this week. I hope you are up for the challenge.
Well, Sweet Friends, we’ve reached the end of my launch week posts. If you’ve read all of them, THANK YOU! What a gift it is to have you here for the ride.
Until next time, Sweet Friends…
Thank you for being here.
Remember to take deep breaths.
And God has got us!