Relationships are complicated. Our first connections are with our parents and when we’re small our relationship with them is fairly cut and dry. Then we begin to grow into our own personalities and suddenly we realize that we don’t agree with our parents completely. We find that we have different interests and passions to pursue.
Some friendships start early in life and evolve as we grow; whereas, some friendships wither as life seasons change. We should nourish and savor those friendships which continue to grow through the ebbs and flows of life. In fact, if you go through life with just a small handful of true, come-what-may friends, consider yourself blessed!
Finally, there’s romance. We only thought our family and friend relationships were tough. Now we get to attempt combining our lives with a member of the opposite sex – someone who sees the world through a completely different set of eyes, norms, and priorities. Do you ever wonder if God chuckles when young couples get into petty tiffs? Maybe I’m the only one who does that. ~smile~
Yes, relationships are not as simple as they seem from the outside looking in and it’s tempting to make judgment calls on other people’s lives when we have no idea the struggle and pain they are going through. Just because I’m not struggling with an abusive relationship does not mean I have all the answers to give an emotionally or physically battered woman; and, if I’m not careful, my words can make bad situations worse instead of providing comfort. It’s sweet to try to help people who are going through rough patches, but unless I’ve gone through a similar struggle – recently – it’s easy to make comments that leave me pulling my foot out of my mouth… and I’d imagine that feet taste gross!
Let’s begin our journey of what not to say by examining comments that may be hurtful, offensive, or shocking to our friends and family who are not yet married. Several of my single friends have graciously shared phrases, comments, and “encouragements” that have left them shaking their heads.
Have any of you ever experienced some of these less than thoughtful comments from others?
- You’re too picky. If you would lower your standards you’d probably find someone.
- Men always look at a woman’s physical appearance first so you need to lose weight for anyone to be attracted to you.
- Maybe you aren’t meant to be married.
- You know when Jesus sent them out He sent them out two by two. You’re not supposed to go through life alone.
- Are you gay?
- Oh, don’t worry. 30 is the new 20.
- You’ve only got a few more good years.
- You’re so nice. It’s a shame you haven’t had a chance to procreate.
- Why are you waiting on God?
- You’ve got plenty of time. I know you’ll get married someday.
These are just a few of the fun comments and questions my friends have received. One of my friends was accused of having a crush on a male co-worker just because she recommended him for a position. The same friend was encouraged to turn down a promotion at work because she might get married and leave the company. Another friend was told not to style her hair a particular way because her future husband might not like it! Wow….
A few years ago, a friend of mine was sitting in a group of people who were complaining about their spouses. Then, someone turned and asked him when he was getting married as if something was wrong with him. It was laughable! Marital dissatisfaction, affairs, and divorce are all around us, but society and the church often treat still being single as more heartbreaking than broken homes and dysfunctional marriages. Why is that?
As I’ve said before, there are blessings to being married and blessings to being single. Society tends to treat singles as if there is something wrong with them. It’s a shame because some of the most amazing people I know are still single. They don’t have crazy personalities, a long rap sheet, or bad body odor. They simply have not met that special person with whom they want to spend the rest of their lives. Singleness is not a sickness. In fact, I greatly respect my single friends for not lowering their standards to fulfill their marital desires. Those who settle soon realize that marriage is no cure for loneliness.
My great uncle once told me, “The only thing worse than being lonely is wishing you were” and I agree with him wholeheartedly! My single friends lead meaningful lives. God has given them passions and they are working and studying in those fields (e.g. media, health care, education, etc.). They are becoming stronger in their faith day by day and they are making a difference in the world. Not one of them is sitting around moping and refusing to live until they get married.
I’ve come to the conclusion that we will all go through something in our lives which leaves us scratching our heads. Why have I not met the man or woman of my dreams? Why have we not been able to get pregnant? Why does everyone else’s marriage seem great while we’re struggling? Why are their kids so well-behaved while ours are so wild? Why are all my friends being blessed with promotions and monetary blessings while I’m struggling to make ends meet?
None of us will escape adulthood without going through something difficult. If you aren’t single, take a minute and think about when you were single. What phrases and comments did you not want to hear? Why not? When you approach someone who is still single, filter what you say to them by asking yourself, “Is my saying this going to encourage or discourage him or her? Is this something he or she has heard a hundred times? Does it need to be said? What does he or she need from me?”
Above all, be sure not to treat anyone who is single as if they are incomplete. It is simply untrue. The only one who can make any of us complete is Jesus Christ. I know some married people who seem desperate for the love and fulfillment that only comes through Christ and I know some singles that experience the love and joy of walking with Christ every day.
If you have single friends, family members, or acquaintances, don’t be overzealous to marry them off. If you truly believe you have two single friends who would hit it off, mention the possibility to them and see how they feel about meeting. However, don’t go on a quest to marry off your friends. The best you can do for them is pray for God’s will and direction for their lives and then be available to listen when they are having a rough day. Trust me… the last thing they need is your pity. Your prayers and friendship are far more valuable. ~smile~