Two girls, born only weeks apart, met in middle school and became fast and lasting friends. To the unknowing eye, these girls would not seem to share much common experience, especially at this stage in life. You see, one is unmarried (not by preference), while the other married at 20 and has 8 kids. You might expect that they have little to talk about, a hard time understanding each other, or that jealousy and bitterness (and I mean both ways) would easily keep them apart. But nothing could be further from the truth. They are knit together in Christ. They marvel at the way the Lord teaches them the same lessons along very different paths. My friend never meant for this to be a public document, but with some begging, she let me post it here on the condition I left out her name.
Guest Post: One who wears providence with dignity, trust, and beauty.
To Godly Moms and Wives: A Few Thoughts on Ministering to the Single Woman in Your Life
Before I start with some ministering tips, I want to be sure you know that single women are deeply thankful for our married friends. You are usually the majority of our friends. And our friends are very precious to us indeed.
- Pray for her. Pray God would make this a fruitful season in her life and that she would grow in love for Him and His Word. Pray she would experience an intimacy with Him that so satisfies her heart that the longing for other things would be overshadowed by delight in Him. Pray for her to meet a godly man. Pray God would prepare and equip her while she waits. Pray for her purity. Pray for godliness and contentment. PRAY. And let her know you’re praying.
- Don’t assume she wants to trade places with you or with any married person she knows. There are probably a few particularly inspiring marriages she aspires to, but don’t jump to the conclusion that just because you’re married and she’s not, that she wishes she had your life. She loves you. She’s thankful for your husband and that God has blessed you with him, but she doesn’t want to be married to him. And hey, that’s not because he isn’t a great guy; he’s just not her guy.
- Invite her over. Include her as often and as freely as you would your own sister. Don’t assume she’ll feel weird, judge your untidy house or unruly kids. Just invite her to be part of the family. Make sure she knows she always has somewhere to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. The holidays are moments when loneliness is particularly acute, whether because of singleness, bereavement, etc., and knowing that you have a place to go instead of ordering takeout solo on the sofa is a huge comfort and relief.
- Be transparent about your marriage, the highs and the lows. Let her learn from what you’re going through that she would be better equipped and prepared for marriage or for whatever God has for her. Help her to understand that God is busy sanctifying us whether we’re single or married, and that some lessons may actually be faster and easier to master if you’re teachable in singleness.
- Make sure your daughters know that her married state is not her ultimate identity and that singleness into adulthood is not a fate worse than death. I know some 20-somethings who genuinely believe God has forsaken them because they’re crossing 23 and not yet married. Teach your daughters about the single women in Scripture whom the Lord used in powerful ways for His purposes. Remind them that marriage is an institution God ordained for our time here on earth—in eternity we will not be married, our desires and longings will be fully satisfied in the Lord.
- Don’t make declarations about how you’re absolutely certain God is going to provide a husband for her, she just needs to wait patiently. You have no idea whether God’s purposes for her life include marriage and whether or not He intends to provide a husband. Even if He does, what if the guy dies after a week, a year, a decade? God’s provision is not the answer—God’s presence and His sacrifice on the cross as our propitiation is. Don’t encourage her to put her hope in marriage. Encourage her to turn her gaze to the One Who Loved her and gave His life for her, determined to do so before the foundations of the world were established.
- Thoughtfully and prayerfully, be on the lookout for appropriate men to introduce her to. Everyone in the church should be looking out to make connections and build friendships between people, particularly those struggling with similar challenges or who have significant shared experiences in order that they could minister to one another. Be watchful and if your husband has a colleague, friend, brother, etc. who you think your friend would enjoy—ask her if she’d like to meet him! She may or may not accept the offer, but it will mean a lot to her that you’re keeping an eye out. Don’t take one refusal as permanent or jump to the conclusion that she is being too picky. No discerning person, later in life, says, “I wish I had been naive and dated more random dudes.” Continue asking, offering, suggesting the RIGHT KIND OF GUYS. She will be grateful.
- If there are behaviors or externalities that you recognize are making her off-putting to men, offer prayerful counsel. If she acts artificial around men, has unrealistic expectations, or just needs a new haircut and some fresh lipstick because her style is about a decade out of date, if there are practical ways in which you can help her put her best foot forward, do so. Don’t sit back and think to yourself that she might be more confident if she addressed this or that. Gently and kindly help her. An honest word from a friend about an area that needs improvement is a gift. Notice how far down the list this is; your first thought shouldn’t be to “fix” her or make her as marketable as possible. Rather help her be her best self in Christ and not unnecessarily lose opportunities to form connections just because of a lack of judgment in a superficial area.
- Make your dialogue with her about more than just your husband and kids. Discuss the things that interest you beyond that, whether its what you’re studying in Bible study, the books you’re reading, the movies you’re watching, politics, whatever. Make sure the entirety of your relationship isn’t her hearing about all the relational stuff happening in your life and you hearing about her work or lack of dating relationship. Establish your friendship on shared interests, mutual authenticity, and above all a desire to spur one another on towards love and good deeds in Christ.
- Tell her she is beautiful. This may be the one thing that a single woman just does not get to hear aloud. Hearing it from friends and family is encouraging in a profound way. Unfortunately, a lot of married women never get to hear this either, which is its own tragedy, but for a single woman to know that no matter what her marital status that her friends and family find her beautiful and lovely is a valuable affirmation.