Alleviating Loneliness – Membership Community for Singles

Membership Community for Singles SurveyWould you be interested in a Membership Community on the Purposeful Singleness website? The Community would be a membership area containing a members-only forum as well as exclusive content and possible future in-person events made available only to members.

The idea would be to foster a safe community where deeper friendships can form. Please note this would not be intended as a matchmaking endeavor, but rather a place for forming friendships and deeper connections with others.

A monthly or annual fee would be charged to cover the additional costs for running a membership area.

[os-widget path=”/ps1/survey” of=”ps1″]

Related posts:

Better Than Sons And Daughters


Called to reproduce spiritually

 

I’ll never forget the tears that came to the eyes of a 90-year-old single woman as she mentioned the absence of grandchildren in her life. She had never married but had spent years on the mission field and as a mentor to many all her life, including me. She was highly respected in our church and by all who knew her. She was one of those people whose vitality made you forget her age, and we all marveled at her keen mind and interest in everyone around her. Knowing all this I was surprised by her tears, while also realizing the need at all stages of life to mourn the absence of that which never was.

Childlessness is an ache many singles and couples carry. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be especially challenging. While these days honor the men and women who have given of themselves to raise children, they often leave those who are childless wondering if their contribution in life has any similar merit. Sermons, books, and inspirational quotes meant to encourage parents sometimes inadvertently pass judgment on the childless.

A quote I read one Mother’s Day illustrates this well. As I opened the bulletin in church that morning, I was presented with this message in bold type: “The highest calling of womanhood is motherhood.” While intending to affirm and encourage mothers, the message conveyed judgment and condemnation to me that somehow, by no choice of my own, I had missed that highest calling. I’m grateful the Lord immediately whispered to me that the quote was not true, and was a human’s perspective, not His.

What God Says About Our Life’s Purpose

More important than what people think, though, is what God says. As we open the Bible and begin reading in Genesis, we see that God’s command to the first man and woman is to “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.” [1]  After the world had been destroyed by the flood, God’s command to Noah and his sons was once again, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” [2] Further in Genesis we see that the great promise God gave to Abraham was that “I will make you extremely fruitful and will make nations and kings come from you.” [3] This promise/command was passed down to Isaac, [4] and to Jacob. [5]

The emphasis of the Old Testament was the looking forward to a specific event: the coming of the Messiah. Every man and woman longed to be the parent or ancestor to this Promised One. To be denied a child was to be denied the possibility of this blessing.

As we turn the pages to the New Testament, we read that the Messiah was indeed born, grew to be a man, and through His death and resurrection became the Savior of the world. Before He went back to heaven He gave a new command, one which was to become the new focus and purpose of our lives as Christians:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [6]

Throughout the New Testament we no longer see the command to “multiply and replenish the earth,” nor do we see the lament of women who were barren.

Jesus had prepared His disciples for this new emphasis and purpose for our lives when He told them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, and even his own life — he cannot be My disciple.” [7] He also drove this point home when his mother and brothers came to see Him and He said, “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” He looked around at His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother.” [8]

We see this new focus in Paul’s writings as well:

“I want you to be without concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the things of the world—how he may please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. Now I am saying this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but because of what is proper and so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction.” [9]

So as we read through the New Testament we can see that the emphasis has shifted away from that of multiplying biologically as families, and has moved towards the importance of multiplying disciples for the Family of God. 

Biological families are still His design and plan for continuing the human race, and the intact family is the most ideal means of multiplying disciples for God’s Family when parents raise their little ones to serve Him. The purpose of having children should always primarily be to raise them to be disciples of Jesus, not for the fulfillment of human desires.

Our Desire to Have Children

We desire to have children for several reasons.

One is to experience the joys of having our own child. This seems to particularly affect women, perhaps because their bodies regularly remind them of their capacity for bearing a child. However, many men also have an innate desire to pass on their name, and traditionally children have been an indication of a man’s manhood and strength.

Another reason is because parenthood makes us “normal” and enables us to fit in with our peers who get married, have children and, in due time, have grandchildren as well. We seem to have this innate desire to be like everyone else.

A third reason is to pass on our values and beliefs to the next generation, leaving a heritage to our children and grandchildren. We all want our lives to matter, and to leave a contribution that long outlasts us.

Our Desires Fulfill God’s Purpose

As we take a closer look at these basic desires for wanting to be parents — to have the experience of reproducing biologically, to fit in and be normal, and to influence future generations — we should take note that the first two are basically for our own personal fulfillment (while also recognizing them as normal desires and part of how God designed us).

However, the third desire for having children — to influence future generations — is part of God’s New Testament command to “go and make disciples.” It is a desire we can fulfill whether married or single. In fact, as Christians, it is far more than a desire and a goal—it is a command which Jesus gave us.

Fulfilling this Command is Not Optional

Those who have children and raise them to be disciples of Christ are fulfilling this command. It involves much personal sacrifice and giving up of one’s own aspirations to achieve the goal of producing not only biological offspring, but spiritual offspring.

Those who don’t have biological children also have the responsibility of multiplying spiritually, and have the opportunity to do so in perhaps more far-reaching ways than having children, if they use their freedom to do so. Accomplishing this also involves much personal sacrifice and giving up of one’s own aspirations, just as parenthood does. Paul, a single spiritual “parent,” referred to this lifestyle as a sacrificial and yet joyous one: “Even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” [10]

Every Christian a Parent

Whether married or single, every Christian is called to reproduce and be a spiritual parent to spiritual children. The possibilities of ways to reproduce spiritually are endless, and God has given us the uniqueness of our own personalities and talents to creatively reproduce for the Family of God.

The Lord has often encouraged me with Isaiah 54 which uses the metaphor of a childless woman:

“Rejoice, childless one, who did not give birth; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the forsaken one will be more than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let your tent curtains be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your ropes, and drive your pegs deep. For you will spread out to the right and to the left, and your descendants will dispossess nations and inhabit the desolate cities. Do not be afraid, for you will not be put to shame; don’t be humiliated, for you will not be disgraced. For you will forget the shame of your youth, and you will no longer remember the disgrace of your widowhood. Indeed, your husband is your Maker —His name is Yahweh of Hosts — and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.” [11]

Isaiah also uses the metaphor of a childless man in Isaiah 56:

“The eunuch should not say, “Look, I am a dried-up tree.” For the Lord says this: “For the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold firmly to My covenant, I will give them, in My house and within My walls, a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give each of them an everlasting name that will never be cut off..” [12]

The New Testament has several examples of spiritual parents. The Apostle John, a single man and most likely childless, wrote, “I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” [13] Paul referred to Timothy as “my son”: “You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” [14] He also said that he had “fathered” Onesimus: “I, Paul, as an elderly man and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, appeal to you for my son, Onesimus. I fathered him while I was in chains.” [15] We have no indication that either of these men had biological children, and yet their spiritual children were many. In fact, we today are spiritual descendants of Paul and John!

Parenthood — Our Highest Calling

Parenthood is part of our highest calling if we mean giving birth to spiritual children and nurturing disciples for Christ. Passing on our faith to future generations is God’s command to every Christian, not just to parents.

While it distressed me a bit to see my 90-year-old friend shed tears over the absence of biological grandchildren, it was also a joy to see her smile through those tears as I read Isaiah 54 to her. It was a joy to me to remind her that in the two letters she’d just read to me, both young people had mentioned she was like a grandmother to them. One was a young man from Honduras, the other a young woman from China; both she had mentored spiritually. She had indeed enlarged her tent throughout her life. Her spiritual children and grandchildren were not only many, but spread far and wide across the globe. I left her apartment that day humbled that I’d had a part in helping her see the far-reaching productiveness of her for God’s Kingdom, which was her greatest desire. She has since passed on to her Heavenly home, but she left a legacy that will live on through eternity!

The absence of children and grandchildren may always present a certain amount of emotional difficulty throughout our lives if we are childless. But if we are reproducing spiritually by encouraging others in a relationship with Jesus, we can be sure we will also leave a heritage for coming generations, even for eternity, that is “better than sons and daughters”!

[1] Genesis 1:28

[2] Genesis 9:1

[3] Genesis 17:6

[4] Genesis 28:3

[5] Genesis 35:11

[6] Matthew 28:19-20

[7] Luke 14:26

[8] Matthew 12:48-50

[9] 1 Corinthians 7:29-35

[10] Philippians 2:17

[11] Isaiah 54:1-5

[12] Isaiah 56:3-5

[13] 3 John 1:14

[14] 2 Timothy 2:1

[15] Philemon 1:9-10

Related posts:

Dealing with Well-Meaning People

Best end result

Just recently I received an email asking me to address a certain topic here on Purposeful Singleness. I’m happy to do that in today’s post. If you would like to see a topic addressed let me know either in the comments below or by using the contact form. I won’t promise to answer them all, but I’ll gladly consider each one.

Here was the recent request:

“Hi, thanks so much for this website it has been a huge help for me. This type of stuff is rarely talked about in the church and because if that it can be isolating sometimes. I myself am decidedly single. Anyway, I was wondering if you can write a post about how to deal with well-meaning people who assume you want to be ‘introduced’ to people. It is something that has frustrated me recently. I can understand why someone would assume that a single person is looking for a relationship since so many singles hate their status but not everyone is the same. Not all singles are looking to be un-single. Personally, I would appreciate it if people would ask me first before taking it upon themselves to match me up. Thank you!”

First of all, thanks so much for your kinds words about the website! It’s always encouraging to hear that the content here is a help and encouragement to those reading it.

Dealing with Well-Meaning People

I’m not sure there is any one right technique for dealing with those dear people in our lives who mean well, but sometimes create problems rather than solving any. Responding and relating to them depends on the personality of the person, your own personality, the relationship between the two of you, and what was actually said or done. Most of all, it depends on what God is leading you to do or not do. I’m always amazed how the Holy Spirit can give us words and responses in the moment that we would never have thought of on our own, even if we’d had plenty of time to think it over!

Our Inward Response

Well-meaning matchmaker

It’s easy to let our default feelings take over and react negatively to people who say or do things we don’t like. It always helps me to consider what their motives might be, though I admit to frequently reacting – inwardly, at least, if not outwardly. If I can view things from their perspective, though, it always helps.

In this case, the well-meaning person likely enjoys being married, and wants the same for you. Or, they assume getting married would be your dream come true, and wants to help move things along to that assumed goal. Bottom line is, this person likely cares a lot about you, so they want to help you find what they assume will make you happy. If you think this is likely the case, be grateful to have a friend that cares about you, even if it is a bit misguided.

Our Outward Response

If you find yourself being unwillingly introduced to someone for a potential relationship – even with the best of intentions – things can get awkward quickly, depending on what is said by the well-meaning matchmaker. Treating others as we’d like to be treated, though, is always a good policy. We can be pleasant and polite without committing to something we don’t want. Who knows what new thing God might be orchestrating through this introduction – a great friend, a ministry or business opportunity, or a link to someone or something else God wants to bring into your life for whatever cool reason He has up His sleeve!

There’s nothing wrong, though, after the dust has settled a bit, with talking things over with the wannabe matchmaker. Depending  on what your relationship is with them, their personality, and the likelihood of their pulling such a stunt again, it might not hurt to let them know you’re not interested in being introduced to potential spouses and why. Unless you tell them otherwise, they’ll continue to assume marriage is your intention, just like it was likely theirs. After all, they can’t read your mind! Sometimes people who are happily (or even unhappily) married can’t comprehend someone being happy and content unmarried. You may not convince them, but at least you’ll have given them something to think about.

God has given us so many different people in our lives – some easy to get along with, others not so easy. Often when encountering unpleasant people or situations, I remember His promise to work everything together for good for those who love Him.[1] I realize that, after all, the One who created me and the purpose for my life truly does know what will bring about the best end result. We can trust Him for grace to deal with the unpleasant parts of that plan – even well-meaning matchmakers!

[1] Romans 8:28

Related posts:

Loving Too Much?

By Fern Horst

Browsing through the “Love & Relationship” section of a local bookstore, one can find such titles as Women Who Love Too Much, When Parents Love Too Much, and even, For People Who Love Their Cats too Much. We could easily conclude that it is a grave danger to love too much.

Yet, when we turn to the Bible we realize that Jesus calls us to love others as He has loved us (John 13:34), and to love even to the point of dying for those we love (John 15:13).

But we often find ourselves loving someone in a way or to an extent to which that person does not return our love, and we experience great heartache. Often such “love” takes on a focus that becomes a consuming obsession; it becomes a necessity to us to make that person love us back. Or, even when the one we love does love back, we become obsessed with keeping that love. Surely such a focus is not godly nor healthy for anyone involved. Hence the books on loving too much.

So which should we follow? Are the books in the bookstore right? Was Jesus just setting us up for broken hearts?

The true crux of the problem is not that we love someone too much, but that we don’t love God enough. When we base our sense of well-being on whether or not someone loves us the way we think they should, then we’ve put our trust and security in that someone rather than in the Lord. We can love someone with all our hearts, but if we don’t love God more than that person, we are setting ourselves up for devastation, unless that human is perfect.

Loving is indeed a risk. But for Christians, loving others is not an option if we are to obey our Lord. We have been commanded to love, not just with warm fuzzy feelings, but to the extent of being willing to die for those we love. Yet we can’t seem to take that risk without also obsessing about their loving us back, unless our security is in something greater than that person. There is only One who can give us that security, and that is God. Micah reminds us of this in the following verses:

Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. (Micah 7:5-7)

It is disheartening to realize that even those closest to us have the capacity to betray us. But the key is to remember that to whatever extent we love the person we love the most, we must love God more. And to whatever extent we value the love of that person, we must value God’s love more.

Frances Havergal, a single woman who lived in the late 1800s, wrote the following words in her book, Kept for the Master’s Use: “If the love is consecrated, and the friendship takes its stand in Christ, there is no need for the fear that it will become idolatry. Let the love on both sides be given to God to keep, and however much it may grow, the source from which it springs must yet be greater.”

I wonder if she didn’t know the heartache of loving “too much”, and had found the secret of loving God more, when she wrote these last few phrases of the familiar hymn, Take My Life and Let It Be:

Take my heart; it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne,

Take my love; my Lord I pour at Thy feet its treasure-store.

Take myself, and I will be Ever, only ALL for Thee.

If we maintain such a love relationship with our Lord, our love for each other will fall into Godly perspective. And those titles we see in the local bookstore can stay right where they are.

Related posts: