More than Babysitters: Loving Singles Well – Well-Watered Women

More than Babysitters: Loving Singles Well

October 19, 2021  - By Kati Lynn Davis

More Than Your Babysitter, Loving Singles in Your Church - an Article from Well-Watered Women

Singles Are More Than Your Babysitter

Before we begin, I think it’s important to establish my credentials. I’ve been single for all my twenty-some (going on thirty-some) years. I've never had anything close to a romantic relationship, or even a prom date for that matter. And I’ve been on exactly one date in my life via a dating app. Although it was pleasant, a second date did not follow.

With that said, I ask that you continue reading this article—especially if you are someone who isn’t single—with an open mind and a gracious heart. I’m not an expert on singleness or a spokesperson for all single people. My purpose in writing this is to gently challenge some lies commonly believed by married people about singles. And some lies believed by singles about married people. My prayer is to ultimately see a church full of followers of Jesus who embody the call of Philippians 2:2 to be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (NIV) regardless of their relationship status.

Living in the Loneliness as Singles

This may seem like a given, but arguably the most difficult thing about being single is the loneliness. Many normal life experiences, both momentous and mundane, are triggers for loneliness for a single person.

Traveling alone is hard. Personally, I often feel my singleness the most poignantly when I’m driving a long distance in a car with an empty passenger seat.

Visiting a church for the first time by ourselves is hard. And even once we become comfortable with the church, sitting in a pew or chair alone when we’re surrounded by couples and families doesn’t necessarily get easier.

Even small day-to-day tasks, like grocery shopping or cooking a meal, can become sudden, unwelcome reminders of our relationship status. “I really wish there was someone else here to help me eat these leftovers.”

Of course there are times we thoroughly enjoy our independence. But other times we crave the sense of intimacy and partnership we see in our married friends. We know that humans were made to be with other humans. God created Eve for Adam after recognizing that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18 NIV).

Coming home to an empty house or apartment can feel like we’re missing out on something essential that our friends in relationships have found. Even those of us with roommates we love have to face the reality that life circumstances will most likely separate us at some point.

Often the thing that single people want the most is to feel like we belong. We need to know that we matter, that there is room for us at both the literal and figurative table. We long for a sense of family, even if that family isn’t biological or certified by a marriage license.

A Seat at the Table

One of the ways non-singles can make the singles in their lives feel loved and cared for is by taking the initiative to include us. If you’re concerned about making us feel like a third wheel, don’t be! We often worry that our solo presence will feel intrusive or awkward for our married friends. But something as simple as a dinner invitation can help relieve those fears and assure us that our company is valued.

If you have children, please know that we don’t mind your messy house or your misbehaving kids. We actually feel honored that you trust us enough to give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your real life. Some of my favorite memories involve sitting around a spaghetti-strewn dinner table, listening to my friends’ four children stumble through heartfelt prayers about their school days and their sick pets. There are many beautiful examples of the body of Christ stepping up to fulfill God’s mission to “set the lonely in families” (Ps. 68:6 NIV).

Unfortunately, many single people have also been victims of deep hurt at the hands of our faith families. Sometimes conversations with well-meaning church members leave us feeling like commodities instead of image-bearers. We try out a new church and make small talk with a couple of people after the service. Suddenly, we’re receiving messages asking us to teach Sunday school or volunteer with the youth group. We haven’t even learned more than five people’s names, and already we’re expected to roll up our sleeves and get down to business.

An Unexpected Question for Singles

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying the singles in your church don’t want to serve! Many of my single friends have expressed that being sought out to help with a ministry is one of the ways they feel most loved by their church. It shows them that their gifts are recognized and that they have an important part to play in the body of Christ.

What I am saying, however, is that it can be hurtful when church members assume that, because of our relationship status, we must be swimming in spare time and will therefore jump at the chance to volunteer with Sunday school or babysit their children. This might be true, but it might not. We might be working multiple jobs to support ourselves since we don’t have a partner bringing in a second income. We might be using “all that spare time” to pursue a dream the Lord has given us. Or, we might simply not enjoy working with kids.

The best way to know how a single person can best serve your church? Get to know them.

As with most things, we see this best exemplified by Jesus.

In Luke 18:35–43, Jesus is on his way into Jericho when a blind man calls to him from the side of the road. He has his disciples bring the man to him and asks the man what he wants.

What?

Anyone reading this story can assume what the blind man wants. We know that Jesus already knows what the blind man wants. After all, he’s God, and God knows our every thought (Ps. 139:2). So why does he ask a question with such an obvious answer?

Because Jesus wants the man to tell him for himself. He wants a relationship with him. He wants to hear his heart.

The Gift of Being

If Jesus (a single person, himself!) encountered someone like me today, my guess is that his first question wouldn’t be if I’m interested in volunteering. Or even about my relationship status. I like to think that he would first invite me to go for a walk or sit down with him over a cup of coffee—or a milkshake since he knows that’s my true heart’s desire—and he would ask those questions he already knows the answers to. 

“What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41)

“What are you seeking?” (John 1:38)

“Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6)

“Why are you so afraid?” (Mark 4:40)

“Do you love me?” (John 21:15​​19)

Because Jesus doesn’t just want our gifts. He wants us. Every part of us. And he knows that the more time we spend with him, the more we understand just how deep his love for us runs, the more we can’t help but want to serve him. Before we can do for Jesus, we first need to be with Jesus.

Being in Practice

And the same is true for singles. Before we become your babysitters or Sunday school teachers or youth group leaders, we need to know that you simply want to be with us. We want to be valued for more than what we have to give.

We ache to be known.

If you leap at every opportunity to ask the single person in your church to watch your kids or your pets but have never invited this person to dinner or coffee with yourself or your family, now is the time to do so. Even if they say no, the gesture will tell them that you see them as a whole person worthy of your time, attention, and care.

Single people, we need to learn how to express our needs. It is okay for us to make the first move, to push past the awkwardness and ask that married couple to hang out. It is okay to respond to an invitation to volunteer with, “I’d love to consider it, but can we get coffee together first?” It’s easy to become complacent with waiting on someone else to notice our loneliness. But all along, the Lord might be nudging us to take a step of faith toward the people he put in our path.

Let Grace Lead

The reality is that both single people and married people will continue to fail at loving each other well. There will continue to be misunderstandings, misspoken words, missed opportunities. We can take baby steps toward doing better, but until all things are made new again, our legs will continue to wobble.

At the end of the day, the best and most loving thing believers in all seasons can do is pray for each other. Pray for grace to lace our lips, for humility to soften our hearts, and for the love we share in Christ to unify our spirits.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil. 2:12).

Your Friend, Kati Lynn

Meet the Author: Kati Lynn is a writer, doodler, and storyteller who is slowly but surely learning how to live loved by Jesus.  She enjoys hanging out with teenagers who keep her up to date on meme culture. She is especially passionate about the ways faith, mental health, and media intersect. You can keep up with her musings on her blog and Instagram @justanotherdavis.

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More Than Your Babysitter, Loving Singles in Your Church-an Article from Well-Watered Women

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  1. Ashlee says:

    This was really good. I am 33 and just began my first serious relationship two months ago. The Lord told me that this is the one for me. One thing I learned is that the Lord wants to know that we love Him before He gives us to someone. He wants to develop such a firm and solid foundation in our relationship with Him that when we meet our other half, we don’t neglect the Lord but learn to make room in our heart for both and continue to develop, nurture and cultivate our relationship with the Lord. No one wi satisfy our longing hearts or meet our deepest need and desire outside of Jesus. He is out EVERYTHING. God does not withhold any good thing from us. If we are single it is simply because there is still a work to be done. & That is the hardest thing to accept when you have such a deep loneliness inside you for companionship. God put that there to keep us close to Him. Deep calleth unto deep. God created us for Him and for a relationship with Him. FIRST. once we accept that, submit and work on our relationship with Him, he can then bring that person into our lives.

  2. Kayla says:

    Love your words in this post, Kati! I specifically love the central message of this post- that as single people, our desire is to be known and loved for our whole person, not just our spiritual gifts or “free time.” I also like that you highlight that Jesus is the only one knows and seeks perfectly. There’s a message in this for everyone, married or single. There’s a call for all to be involved in church, but also to know the season you’re in, whether you’re married or single. There’s also a call to know someone, not just as a single or engaged or married person, but to know the whole person. As someone who is continuing to discover the benefits and costs of singleness, this was a welcome reminder to look to Jesus.

  3. Linda says:

    Love, love, love this! You got it right!

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