January 25, 2016

So Your Still Single?

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So your still single? 

What does that mean to you today?

I ask myself these two questions from time-to-time.  Sometimes I'm too busy to think about the questions and other times I wish I didn't remember them.  But as the years have marched on I have watched my expectations about singleness change.

I don't see singleness as a handicap.  I don't believe that anyone should see it that way.  We each have everything we need to succeed in life.  If we can think for ourselves, if we can dream for ourselves, then we can see those dreams come true.  It will take time... but that's okay.  Rushing life along never works out very well and it can leave a person with regrets.

I don't know what is happening in your life journey but if you are reading this post I imagine you needed the comfort of knowing you are not alone.

Life as a single woman means that you sometimes feel exhausted.  This past weekend the east coast was pummeled with snow.  I headed out to shovel with enthusiasm and gusto.  And that morphed into exhaustion three hours later.  Non-stop shoveling will do that to ya.  And for a moment I stepped back and thought how much easier it would be if I had a husband to help me out.

Yeah,  it hits me like a snowball to the face once-in-a-while. The realization that I'm alone.  Most of the time it happens in moments like these: 
  • I have to carry several heavy grocery bags to the car because everyone left their empty carts in parking spaces all over the parking lot.
  • I find out I have a flat tire and I need to put on my spare tire tire.
  • I decide to go see a movie by myself and all around me people are with their sweet hearts.
  • I go to church and most of my friends are there to greet me... along with their husbands and 2-3 kids.
Yep.  Those are some moments when it can hurt.  But the truth is that as I've grown older the pain doesn't hurt as much as it used to.  That doesn't mean I have given up hope on meeting the right person.  I'm simply not waiting around to "start my life."  

I am living my life regardless.  And I want every day to count as a new and rewarding experience even if nothing amazing happens on that particular day. The truth is that as a single lady amazing things can happen any day!  

This past year God opened the door to two mission trips.  One was in Ireland and the other was in India.  It took a leap of faith each time... but I'm so glad that I didn't back away.

I didn't have a husband when I stood on the Cliffs of Moher and heard the song of the seagulls and watched the crashing of the waves.  I didn't have a husband when I walked the dusty streets of Uttar Pradesh or witnessed Indians bustling along the banks of the Gange River.  

There was no husband by my side when I saw the Taj Mahal for the first time and touched its walls and stepped inside.  It is considered one of the greatest monuments of love from husband to wife and yet there I was, single.  But I wasn't thinking about my marriage status then.  Only now looking back do I understand that even though I was unmarried I have always had a true love by my side.

I feel very deeply that God makes His presence and His love known to singles in ways that He does not for married people.  Not because single people are more spiritual or somehow better than married people, but simply because He knows that it isn't always easy to be alone.

I know that I would not have been able to go on these trips and in some cases take part in humanitarian work if I were married with kids.  I never dreamed the things God has given me by this point in my life.  But that's how God works.  He goes over and beyond every time. 

But what about all those moments, days, years in between the amazing experiences?  What are we to do with all the times when every day events start to suck the hope and dreams right out of you?  Is it even worth it to keep hoping for marriage if it doesn't happen in your 20s?  In your 30s? In your 40s?

What if you never have kids of your own?  Can you still trust and love God enough to let that dream go?  And what if marriage to someone wonderful never happens to you?  

Does that mean that there is something wrong with you? Does that mean that God is punishing you?  Never. Does it mean that you will not have anyone to help you in your old age?  That does not fit with the character of God.

I know it is easy to worry about what will happen to you.  But during those times turn to the Lord and tell Him those thoughts are haunting you.  Tell Him how sad, disappointed, and scared you are in that moment.  Its okay.  Be honest with Him.  

But don't just vent and walk away.  Let God reply to you.  Read your Bible and listen to what He has to say.  He is a good God and a loving God and He watches and cares for His own.

So your still single?  Cool!  

God has some amazing experiences in store for you.  He's going to take you places you never thought you would go and He's going to show you who He is in ways that will amaze you.  Don't be scared.  Don't be sad.  But if you find yourself feeling this way once-in-a-while then know that you are not alone.  And God sees your tears.  And He knows your fears.  And He says:

" So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

~ Isaiah 41:10

August 05, 2015

When Friends Get Too Needy

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The other day I checked my phone and found a message from a friend waiting for me.  And soon more messages appeared.   They were all some variation of my friend's frustration and disappointment in me not responding to a Facebook invite she had created just two days before.

My internet had gone out prior to her invite so I never knew about it.  I could not get on Facebook or any other website for several days. When I explained this to my friend she relented. But I began to have doubts about whether-or-not our friendship was healthy.

Why would a friend think that I was purposely avoiding her, especially after we had already agreed via phone to attend the exact event she decided to create a Facebook page about?  Something didn't add up.

The first thing I did was check if there was something I might have done to cause the confusion.  But after speaking to a mentor about the issue it was clear that the problem was not with me.

My friend and I did go to the event and had a good time but I still felt uneasy.  Trust had been broken.  My friend was doubting me friendship and care for her.  Why?

Any relationship in life takes time to build. Friendships are a very special blend of trust, respect, and wisdom.  When any of these three elements are missing, friendships can become sour.  How far things sour depends on how well both sides of a friendship can recognize the issue and resolve it with kindness.

But what happens if a friend simply doesn't see the problem?  What happens if a friend becomes too needy and reliant upon you for emotional stability?

It can be that a friend is now envious of your accomplishments or opportunities.  It could be a friend is not willing to look at their personal issues of low self-esteem.  It could be that a friend is not turning to the Lord as their source of fulfillment. Or perhaps you are at a new stage of life and your friend is not comfortable with the changes happening in you.

I think its important to recognize that friends are not meant to be 24 hour personal counselors.  If a friend is constantly dumping all their drama and frustration on you, then its time to seriously consider stepping away from the relationship for a bit. 

Friends who become nags, easily offended, or "clingy" are all signs of trouble in a friendship.

The difficult thing is to know whether-or-not you should maintain it.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
  • If I continue my friendship with so-and-so would she continue to act this way?
  • Do I feel encouraged or drained after spending time with this friend?
  • Am I hesitant when I see a text or email message waiting for me from this friend?
  • Is this friend happy to listen to me or is it always about her life issues?
  • Have I failed to set up boundaries in this friendship and can I still do so?
Returning to my story, my friend and I talked about the incident.  I learned that she was having major troubles with her family, in particular with her mother, and felt stressed and unappreciated.  

I reassured my friend that I would not abuse her the way her mother did.  But I also realized that I now had to be more mindful of my actions toward this friend.  I don't mind being someone others can lean on from time-to-time. But I also see the potential for her neediness to grow and for me to feel drained. 

We both have friends who run in the same circles so it was to our advantage to talk things out.  And I made a point of stating that good friends exercise mercy and forgiveness.  I also stressed that its okay and healthy for us to have other friendships too, which I do. 

A new set of boundaries have to be put up so that we can both enjoy each other's company, encourage each other, and yet respect our individual time and emotions.  Part of that is letting my friend know when I am and am not available to chat.  
  • Having a phone does not mean that I will always be able to message her.
  • Just because I have internet access does not mean I will be checking Facebook every day.
  • If I am unavailable once-in-a-while to communicate it does not mean I am angry or rejecting her.
Might there be some boundaries you need to look at with a friend?  Could you be part of the problem? If your friend is needy is there something you can do to encourage them to pursue a healthy friendship?

May the Lord encourage you and lead you in your friendships!

~ Sincerity

" Wounds from a sincere friend is better than many 
kisses from an enemy."

~ Proverbs 27:6