The “Friend Zone”

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No one is happy.

The ladies say the guys won’t ask them out.

The guys say the ladies stay in their social circles and won’t come out. No one is on anyone’s romantic radar.

Welcome to the Friend Zone. It’s a place that single adults find themselves at almost every church event. Sure, there are people that blast through the friend zone and find their mate through church, but more and more singles are frustrated by the “dating within the one place it’s best” to find a spouse.

So how does it happen? How can so many eligible people, with similar beliefs and values, AND the desire to date, be around each other for so long without ever developing relationships?

It’s simple and complex all at the same time.

First, let’s address it from the guy’s perspective. Guys want to pursue dating relationships with the girls. They want to find “her”. Despite what the ladies think, they are not scared of girls. That’s the simple part.

It gets complex from there. There is a dating shelf life in any singles group. Guys can only ask out a certain number of girls before they are branded a “player” in the singles group. And that’s the best thing they can be branded. The other brand is much more damaging. “Creepy”. Creepy guys are done…finished. They are the ones that girls warn other girls about before they even darken the door.

For the guys, they spend their entire time trying to figure out which girl they should pursue and how they will be branded by the group based on their actions. If a guy messes this up and is viewed poorly by the girls he is damaged. Sometimes irreparably.

From the ladies perspective, they aren’t going to pursue the guy. And they shouldn’t have to. Many of them are interested in dating, but unfortunately their pool of selection is small. Male leadership in the church is lacking at all ages and they aren’t going to waste their time with guys that won’t step up and show spiritual leadership within their group.

And why should the ladies waste their time? If these guys can’t step up in leadership in the church, how will they ever do it in the home? Showing boldness, in the minds of the ladies, begins with stepping up and asking them out.

So we find ourselves in the friend zone. We find ourselves in a place where guys won’t pull the trigger on asking a girl out because he’s afraid he’s going to get blackballed, or because another guy has called “dibs” on asking a girl out. And we find the ladies frustrated because of the lack of real mature men that want to not only ask them out, but more importantly the lack of men that are serious about their spiritual life. We end up having large singles groups of people that aren’t dating but hang out all the time as friends. They will then refuse to move into a dating relationship with someone in their group because “it’s just too weird” or “I don’t want to mess up our friendship” or “I think of him/her like a sibling”.

Breaking out of this is going to be tough, but here’s how we do it.

Guys, step it up. First, focus on your spiritual life. You don’t have to stop dating to do this. It’s a journey and you’ll never reach perfection. Don’t wait on perfection. Second, find the ONE girl that is special to you. Be a man and ask her out.

Ladies, give the guys a chance. Don’t gossip with your girlfriends about the guys and do everything in your power not to “brand” the ones that are genuinely trying.

It’s a two way street.

– Author Will King

It’s Just Me This Christmas

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Regardless whether a person is completely content with being single or not, the holidays for older single adults reveal a somber truth. It is logical then to see when time marches on, things change, and those who are dear to us pass on. For singles, this can create a situation they never saw coming.

 

It is just me this Christmas.

 

Small families have some amazing abilities to do more with everyone since there are less people to logistically connect with. This also means less siblings, if any, and for most singles, one Christmas day they find themselves the last of their family. We know this sounds extreme, but for one single adult this was exactly what happened.

 

Robert was an only child. He had dated a few times but never really found a person that shared reciprocal interest in marriage. Holidays were spent with mom and dad at his house. In the span of three years, both parents had passed to be with the Lord and then it happened.

 

Robert was alone for Christmas. Years of traditions with family are gone and his extended family were too far away to travel to see them.

 

Where was the Framily?

 

Robert was active in his church and had several friends. Many were close as family, they were framily (friends considered family). But they all forgot that he was a single child and both his parents had passed away. His close network of friends forgot to reach out. In all fairness, Robert also failed to reach out and seek a place to go to on Christmas Day. But, he also didn’t prepare to spend it alone.

 

We Have to Pay Attention.

 

Singles, leaders to singles, and anyone reading this blog: We have to be observant of singles in our lives and make sure we reach out often to keep them connected. In this case, Robert may had forgotten he was going to be alone for Christmas due to the busyness of the holiday season. Robert may have wanted to spend the day alone, which would be fine. But, the issue is that everyone lost sight of their single adult friend and where he was going to spend Christmas.

 

Churches Need to Connect Singles.

 

Church, however you connect singles you need to make it a priority. Singles like this one and others make up nearly half of all adults in America and as more and more adults age without a spouse, this number and scenario is going to increase. Churches need to have a focus on connecting singles in whatever discipleship strategy they have to minister to singles all year. Some will still fall through the net you build to catch singles, but your strategy to reach them will connect more than it misses.

 

Being alone for Christmas does not have to be the saddest thing ever. This blog was not out to say everyone needs to be with people on Christmas. This blog is an attempt to shine light into an area of need for the Church to connect singles at some of their most critical life moments and for the Church to reflect Christ in those times.

 

How does your church reach single adults? Do they do a good job trying to connect singles? Anything done to ensure the lone single is included during the holidays?

Get Out There

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So you are not the “outgoing type” or would rather curl up with a book on Friday night and not engage the world. Or maybe you are the “life of the party” kind of person and hate sitting in silence. Both people are created by God and uniquely wired to have a way to “charge up their batteries.” But when it comes to engaging those around us for Christ, our sole purpose for doing so should not be to only get something out of those relationships. We should also be looking for ways to give.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 a direct reason to introverts and extroverts to engage the culture and find new friends. You can see three versions of this text HERE, but the ESV says it this way:

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

As a single adult, you need to get out there and meet people for the sake of the Gospel! Not just to have someone to party with or call to watch a movie, but to meet lost people and show the love of God. These relationships are not for the purpose of dating, but for the Kingdom. But notice what Paul says, he does not do that because everyone is converting due to his efforts. He is doing this so that SOME MAY be saved. Just because you had lunch with a co-worker and there was not a baptism that followed, doesn’t mean you should give up on engaging those around you.

What is at stake is too great for you as a follower of Christ not to make all efforts to share the Gospel. If you don’t have a relationship with the Lord. Single adults have great opportunities to be flexible with their time and engage others. Single parents have connections as well through their family that otherwise some may never have to reach people. No matter where you are at as single adult, sharing the Gospel needs to be close to your heart daily in order that some may know Him.

Sunday Single Selection

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It is Saturday night and you know you should go to church tomorrow, yet you have reservations in your heart about where to go or if you should find somewhere new to go. You want to Worship and hear the Word preached, but the church you go to does not seem to get being single or you can not find a church with a singles group. Many singles have this Saturday night emotion, wanting to go to church for all the right reasons, but still desiring more in community with other singles like yourself.

Many churches don’t have a targeted group for singles, if they even seem to acknowledge they are present. Those that do have singles groups may not feel like they are targeted at people like yourself. While the emotions are valid, your response to these issues should have only one outcome and that is to go Worship with other believers. Worship is not a self serving activity where you get something for doing something. Worship is about praising God for who He is and learning more about Him through that experience. So here are a few encouragements for singles with regards to church selection.

  1. Base your selection on if the church Worships God and honors His Word.
  2. Connect with a congregation close as possible to enhance your ability to participate.
  3. Look for churches with existing singles ministries listed, if none are found it may be time to start a singles ministry in your area. Chances are there are several people like you looking for a place to connect.
  4. Bring or invite a friend to help you select a church, it helps to debrief with someone over lunch after Worship.

Finally, choose! Go to a church where God is calling you, make roots and serve. Don’t spend all your time looking when you could be connected to a church and start building a singles ministry for people like yourself. Your efforts to do so will not return void and God will honor your commitment to serve Him.

 

Is Sexting OK in My Relationship

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For those unaware, sexting is a form of provocative language between a couple using electronic communication. In a relationship, couples will often find creative ways to convey their love to one another. In years of old, this may have been letter writing or heaven forbid an actual conversation.

In any relationship communication is key, but what type of communication is profitable? For an unmarried couple sexting is crossing a line of respect for the boundaries of the relationship that honors God. If you have to ask ”Would God approve of this?” then you need to reconsider why you are doing it in the first place! At the core of these words you will find lust, and lust is sinful–not playful, and not loving.

Our response to dating singles is sexting crosses the line, it is lust and it is wrong. Even once you are engaged, it should be off-limits; you are not married and need to save something special to share after your big day. EVEN THEN, let us all not forget that the NSA is reading most anything we send and the high profile people caught sexting and the embarrassment it caused. So keep your text above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2) and have a happy, God honoring relationship.

Will Marriage Fix My Sexual Desires?

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“But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry,
for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
– 1 Corinthians 7:9

Marriage is more than a fix for sexual desires.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul addresses marriage to the married, single, widowed and divorced adults. In light of the above passage, how can any person choose to be single with such a burning sinful desire of passion? Are singles strong enough to control their sexual desires?

Prominent speakers have suggested that to be single is in effect an open sin as it is nearly impossible to abstain from impure thoughts while single. The fallacy in this opinion is that married persons do not have such thoughts, which is clearly not the case. Divorces are often caused by infidelity originating from sinful thoughts. Marriage does not fix sin, only being Complete in Christ can help fight against sin nature.

God’s Word instructs us to be strong and bold. Sexual desires are controlled–but only with God at the center of a relationship. As a relationship develops, it is not always easy. But God will reward the couple who chooses to wait. Self-control seems to be a major part of the conversation happening in 1 Corinthians 7 as Paul wishes people to be single like himself but realizes that many are too weak to do so.

This goes along with the same conversation for singles with “the gift of singleness” spoken of in verse 7 of the same chapter. The idea is that no person is strong enough to control their sexual desires and if there were such a person, they would truly have this “gift” of singleness. Yet, control is not what we, as sinners, as humans, have.

We, at Table for One, believe marriage is more than a way to fix a sexual urge. It’s a lifetime commitment. It’s a sacred relationship centered on Christ. It is not just a way to correct sin, Christ died for our sins on the cross and rose again defeating the grave and overcoming this world. Therefore we need to value marriage for what it is, a covenant between two people and God until eternity.

In this conversation, Paul is almost suggesting with a bit of sarcasm or frustration that as a last resort, the very weak should just get married if they can’t control themselves. Paul is writing with all seriousness that marriage is important and has its place, but above all, is serving the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

Marriage should be a calling to bond with another person, not a tool to fix sin.

Single vs Married 3 Bucket List Differences

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A bucket list is a compiled list of ideas, experiences and achievements a person wants to do before “kicking the bucket” (dying). So how is that list different for a single adult versus a married adult? Here are three categories we see they are the same and three ways we see they are different.

 

How they list are the same:

 

  • Career Goals
    • Regardless of your life stage, many of us have career goals we would like to achieve in life. Be it a leadership role, working abroad, or finally finding that job that is not work because it is so much fun. Scripture is clear, we need to go and do what is the Lord’s will and seek to do good in James 4:13-17
      • Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
  • Spiritual Goals
    • Whether single or married, our status should not affect our mandates found in Scripture. Love God, Love others (Matthew 22:36-40), Go and Tell (Acts 1:8), and to hear the word’s “Well done my good and faithful servant” (Luke 19:17). As followers of Christ, our spiritual goals are the same. We want to be more like Christ every day on this earth to see people come into a relationship with Him.
  • Vacation Goals
    • Often when people make a bucket list, it is full of destinations, locations, and activities to do. This is no different for single or married adults. Singles, you should be traveling as you feel led anywhere you want to go. Go visit those places, do those things, and share them on social media while you are at it. Smile.

 

Now, here is how they differ:

 

 

  • Relationship Goals
    • Relationships take forms in many ways. For singles, the idea of being married may not be one they are led to have or it could be an opportunity never opens for marriage to occur. Others have been married and experienced the pain of a failed marriage by divorce. There are others who expected to be with their spouse till death do they part, only to outlive them and find themselves single again. Colossians 2:9-10:
      • For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete…

 

 

  • Undivided Life Goals
    • Singles have the clear advantage to live a life that is not divided as our married counterparts. Married adults have to think about their spouse and children when making decisions about, well, everything. As a single adult you have the opportunity to go where God leads anytime, anywhere. This is the advantage the apostle Paul is speaking of in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
      • I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

 

 

  • “Passing the Baton” Goals
    • Singles define family differently. Investing in the next generation may not be your direct family. Married adults see this in passing on family stories to children and having children to care on their “legacy.” For singles, defining family in the broader sense than blood-related relatives open doors and opportunities for them to share their story with others for generations to come. Just because you do not have children, does not mean you cannot pass on wisdom for the generations to come. Look to serve by sharing experiences and knowledge with others throughout all your life and let it be said of all of us in Psalm 71:18:
      • Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.

Marriage isn’t the Finish Line

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The big day is here! Here comes the bride all dressed in white. The groom dressed to the nines in his rented tux stands fidgeting at the front to begin a ceremony that moves even the hardest of hearts to tears. Then comes the reception including a toast from the father of bride of just how proud he is that his little girl found a man, almost implicating that a secret achievement has been unlocked allowing the happy couple to continue in the game of life, side-by-side.

Singles. Get. It.

At the same time you are happy for another couple. Everyone is celebrating a monumental achievement in the lives of your friends. But in fact, is marriage the finish line? Singles often are looking to the next milestone or marker in life. At some point, it starts to feel like the only milestone left is marriage.

But the reality? It is not the finish line of achievement.

For married couples the next bombardment of expectation is kids. And while having a pet or three helped for a while, the next finish line of life is having a baby. Once that is crossed and no less than a day after the first child, there are questions of when the next baby will arrive. After baby two, the next quiz is will there be three. Have four, and comments of birth control fill the air. Then there is college for the kids, jobs for the young adults, and future weddings! The cycle starts all over again.

Here is the point.

The finish line is defined by a relationship, just not the one you may have thought or felt from your surrounding friends and family.

Being Complete in Christ is the only relationship that will leave you complete. All other relationships build off of that relationship and running a good race is defined by it. Keeping the faith and living for God is grounded in a relationship with Christ.

Singles, always keep in mind your life not measured by this world, but by following the One who paid our sins in full–Jesus–so we can live life more abundantly.

Not an Option

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When is the last time you made something “Not an Option”? Truly, 100% said to yourself that under no circumstances will I ever ____. Everyone has things that are not options in their lives, such as the clothes worn to work or the food we choose to eat that may cause allergic reactions. Everyone makes choices everyday that make things “Not an Option” in their life.  Yet, somehow, we are still tripped by the same sins.

Jesus, at the Sermon on the Mount, told people to be radical in their actions in order stop from sinning. Though He was being figurative, He suggested it is better to lose a hand than to keep it and continue a life of sin (Matthew 5:29-30). It is better to not have a hand and live for God than to have two hands and not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Single adults have a lot of time alone and, in those alone times, it is easy to slip into temptations. For any of us to be obedient to the Word of God and follow Him, we have to make certain things in our lives “Not an Option.” Doing so will glorify the One who sent His only Son to die on a cross for our sins and allow us to live a life honoring to Him.

What things in your life do you need to make “Not an Option”? Addictions? Gossip with friends? Temptations? Some may think you can’t change or overcome the struggle. That is not the case!

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

God is on your side and will not let you be tempted, tested, or go through trials that you cannot have victory over! He loves you so much that He always gives an alternative for you to choose and make something “Not an Option.”

I Fell in Love with an Atheist

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There is no way to dice it or dance around it. I loved an atheist. I loved him with every fiber of my being. Had it not ended, I might have loved him more than I love God.

In total transparency, my ex still has a small piece of my heart, that tiny shoebox in the corner of a heart where first loves and tacos live. Our “relationship” was a roller coaster of poor judgment, horrible communication, brilliant times full of laughter, sweet sincerity, highs, and lows. Conversation rarely revolved around God but, when the topic arose, it was like a round of tug-o-war.

I didn’t know he was atheist when we first started dating. I thought he was simply jaded and wayward. He was a music director at a church, his family was deeply rooted and involved. Having been raised in the church, he knew the political childishness that can happen within church walls filled with sinful humans. It never crossed my mind that he didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t share the same heartbeat for Jesus that I did.

When the truth came to light, the hopeless romantic in me believed he would return to God. I was in his life to help him see the light. It was all God’s divine appointment. I believed God put me in his life to help him. Deep down inside he had to believe, right?. He HAD to. Feeling we were meant to be together, I fervently prayed for his salvation. He opened a part of my heart that had been closed for a long period. I thought we couldn’t NOT be together.

After the last round of relationship lows, I realized what was happening. I had created a false god out of this man and our “relationship” (Exodus 20:3). I had put my desires, my heart, my treasures for this man over my desire for God. I was trying to serve two masters but failing the most important one (Matthew 6:19-24). I was delivering loaded selfish prayers to God and ignoring every conviction and warning sign He laid in front of me. It became clear. I knew what I had to do.

My prayers shifted to a focus on God. I prayed for God’s will and for God to either change his heart or knowing it would break my heart, take him out of my life. And it happened. My heart shattered.

I spiraled to a lonely place, feeling worthless, and angry at God. He had put all this love and excitement in my life only to rip it away. My conversations with God consisted solely of prayers for loved ones. None for me, not for my anger and broken heart. But He was there, waiting for me to be done with my temper tantrum.

I made the choice to trust and give my heart back to God. He handled the rest. My heart softened, I grasped two important truths:

1. God shows me countless amounts of infinite selfless love every single day. Every morning I open my eyes, I’m reminded of God’s eternal love.

2. My heart will mend because it belongs to the most trusted Physician.

When my ex moved on, I reflected on God’s protection from mistakes that could have had life long consequences. With God’s love, I made it through the heartbreak stronger and wiser. I thank my ex for the good times and being the one God used to show me I have the capacity to love at a high level. It’s the reason my ex holds a small place in my heart shoebox.

Now, I focus on building my relationship with God. Like any relationship we’ve had our ups and downs, but He’s always right there, always. He loves and guides me through every low and celebrates with me at every high. My relationship with Christ is the most important I have. Grounded in His truth, I know it is the foundation for all other relationships (Matthew 22:37-38).

-Crystal