I am 40 and Still Single

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Live Beyond the What-if Life

I didn’t want this for my life. I wanted kids in middle school or high school at this point. Just like all my peers. And, I find myself renting, fearful to buy a home in case I find someone and have to move again. What if the right person came along this week? We might be married in a few months and have a family going within a year or so, giving me the life I want. Or what if I change my church? Maybe there will be someone for me somewhere else. God understands I want to be married so it would be okay to move churches for that reason, right? What if I never find a mate and this life of singleness is it?

Do you live your life thinking “someday?” Are you living a “what-if” life?

For adult singles, it is often a challenge not to play the what-if game. Constantly re-evaluating all the angles for how a mate could appear tomorrow and change everything. At Table for One Ministries, we understand many people want to be married and the life of being single is not glamorized by anyone these days. By the time singles are over 35, they are often asked, “Why haven’t you married?”

Singles, Table for One Ministries feels your pain and hears your groans. We understand.

However, playing the what-if game is not the human role to play. Psalm 37:4 tells us our heavenly Father loves us and knows the desires of our hearts. He also knows the path ahead and will reward you for your faithfulness according to Job 23:10.

At Table For One, we often say, “Be complete in Christ.” Nothing else will fill your heart, give you true love in this world, and give you contentment with your circumstances. Yes, it’s okay to feel pain and sorrow for things you want or once wanted, but as John 14:15 instructs Believers, the majority of our time should be focused on honoring God everyday to the best of our ability in our current situation.

Don’t live in the what-ifs when the better choice is God’s plan. Seeking that plan could take days, weeks, months, or years but it is worth going after to be in His direction for your life.

Divorced not Damaged

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Divorced NOT Damaged

For singles who have been divorced, it can feel like you have a scarlet “D” on your chest at all times for “Divorced.” The Christian community can often be the worst offenders of this, labeling you as “Damaged” but redeemed. Divorce was not God’s plan for any marriage, but it happens. Jesus even addresses it in Matthew 19:1-9, saying it was because of mans hardness of hearts that divorce even happens. This blog is not to debate the grounds of if a divorce is right or wrong, it is for those who are already divorced.

 


 

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I have been divorced.

It was not a marriage that lasted long and it ended with my spouse being unfaithful. The divorce was rather quick and settled within months and having no children it was easier to move on for me than others. It was hard to face my family, friends, and Church after the divorce happened. My commitment to the marriage was not reciprocated and somehow I felt punished in the church for my actions. I walked with God for years before the divorce happened, and I needed Him most after I left for good.

My parents encouraged me to go with them to church, try the singles group there and meet some friends. It took weeks to build up the courage to go into the singles class, I literally shed tears at the thought of meeting new Christian friends and how they would judge my scarlet “D.” Joining that singles group was just what I needed to get my faith back on track and be surrounded with love from friends as I built my relationship with Christ. Most people did not find my divorce to be an issue, however there were a few that judged my divorce as if it had obviously been my fault that the marriage failed.

As a follower of Christ, you are not damaged in God’s eyes. Your sins were washed away when you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, Acts 22:16. As followers of Christ our sins are taken away and even cast to the deepest sea on the ocean floor, Micah 7:19. Christ’s love covers our multitude of sins, even divorce, 1 Peter 4:8.  When others judge you because of your divorce, be strong and take refuge in Christ and His promises of Love.

Regardless if your divorce is “Biblical” or “justified” you are not innocent in a divorce. Everyone is a sinner and makes mistakes or sins before God, Romans 3:23. Those sins do not have to define who you are, but you should be vigilant not to make them again. Divorce happens. Jesus knew this in Matthew 19:1-9 and He does not want you to feel damaged, He died on the cross for our sins so that we may have life and have it more abundantly, John 10:10. I encourage you to live life abundantly after your divorce and be free from the sins of your past to enjoy the blessings in your future. Just a few short years after my divorce, I met my husband. Had I never let go of the past, I would have never been looking ahead for the blessing of being married to a Godly man.

Stop Following Your Heart

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Have you ever heard of Lemmings? It was a popular game a few years back, when floppy drives were still in use! It’s also an animal associated with the idea of following the leader no matter what, blindly going where they lead. The problem, of course, is that lemmings follow the leader, even if it’s over a cliff! They follow blindly until something happens, whether good or bad.

Singles are no different when they follow only their heart in relationships.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Jeremiah 17:9.

We are obsessed with a Romeo-and-Juliet culture where love is nothing more than following your heart to find true love. This is made even more popular by shows like “Once Upon a Time,” where every character is centered around finding their happy ending. And it never comes!

Christ wants you to follow Him! Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Trust Him with everything! Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Christ says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24.

Following your heart leads to paths that are not always what God wants for our lives. Sin can creep into our decision-making and relying on our “hearts” leads to poor choices.

And as for that happy ending? In John 16:33 Jesus says, “The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” Christ has defeated the world through death on the Cross!

This world will never bring a happy ending, our happy ending as Christ followers is hearing the words “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21.

I Am a Widow, But Do I Have To Be Single?

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The death of a spouse is tough. In addition to the grief, there can be the confusion of changing financial arrangements, and the assumption of household and family responsibilities that were once shared. For many, there is also the added challenge of discovering where they now “fit” among the social circles present in their local congregation.

Single adults who were once married cannot be lumped into one big “Single-again” category.  Many widows/ers do not think of themselves as single at all. They carry on living, in many ways, as if their spouse were simply away on a trip. Others, however, see a completely new chapter of life before them, and choose to seek out new friendships and opportunities.

Table for One Ministries wants all widows/ers to know you are not alone. The decision to be “single again” is yours and yours alone. We do, however, believe it can be a positive step. After the loss of such a close relationship, the void in life can seem unfillable. Many widows continue on with their current married environments only to find they have less and less in common with them as time moves forward. Widows need other widows and singles who understand their life stage and can sometimes minister to them more effectively than their previous group.

Becoming a widow is not the end of the road, but a new stage of life where bold things can be done and serving the Lord should be center stage. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8 & 9: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.” Embrace your new life stage as a widow and see where the Lord will lead you next. Your singles group will embrace you with loving arms and you will find a place to connect.

Single Parent and Complete in Christ

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Complete in Christ not just a lifestyle. It is a mindset that no matter what happens or what worldly influences persist, wholeness is found in the Lord. Single families need to be reminded of Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…

Single parents need a Biblical foundation to affirm their family is not an accident. It is not less complete, or in any way a punishment for a lifestyle. Single parents need to acknowledge God knew their child before he or she was even formed in the womb.

For single mothers and fathers out-of-wedlock that means even though the parent did not follow God’s will regarding no sex before marriage, God knew that child’s life before they sinned, and that child’s life is consecrated or set apart by God. There are no mistakes or accidents when it comes to how single families are formed according to God, regardless of the circumstances that create a single family.

Likewise for single parents of adoption, God entrusted the single parent before the adopted child was even conceived. Their adoption is not a chance of fate, but a divine appointment. Their family was planned by a Holy God long before it came to fruition.

For single mothers/fathers that are widowed, there was no mistake about whether they could or could not handle the situation given to them. They are Complete in Christ, and God knew the widow or widower could raise a family alone and that the child would have a home that could be filled to the point each person in the home could be Complete in Christ.

Lastly, for single mothers/fathers of divorce and their children, God hates divorce. As Malachi 2:16 tell us, it is never His plan. But, Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 7 that even Moses had to grant divorce due to the sinful nature of man. Children should not be a chess piece in divorce or a reminder of a failed past relationship. God knows each child in the womb, and He sets apart each one’s lives. Therefore, single parents of divorce need to be Complete in Christ, even if they were never complete in their prior marriage.

The single parent needs to be mindful of Romans 8 where we are told there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Only Christ can complete someone, not a relationship, and certainly, not a spouse.

All In

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If I had known at 20 that at age 30 I would be serving as a single female missionary in the Middle East,  I would have probably married the next guy that came along.  And, I would have regretted it, I’m positive.

Why?  Because I am right where I am supposed to be.  On the good days, my heart is so full of love for Him and others that I feel it may explode.  On the hard days, when I tend to ask, “Why, Lord?” and my prayers are peppered with complaints, it is often through tears and on bended knee that I renew the choice to trust Him.

Marriage was my plan. Always. Truthfully, it is still in my plans, and I consistently bring it up in my prayer life.  But I don’t think the life I’m living is some sort of backup plan to the “perfect life” that could have been.

There was a moment, a few years after I became a believer, I felt Him asking me how much of my life was really His, how much was I really willing to give up?  Would I hold back areas of my life, my plans, and my dreams from His touch?  Would I cling to the things of this world over Him?

It was one of those rare times in life, when the world may see nothing happening, but in my heart I was forever changed.  I was set on a path to following Him–whatever He wanted of me, my answer was yes.

Really, it’s the commitment every Christian makes– if we make Jesus Lord, then we are giving up our lives then and there.  But how often do we (and I mean myself in this!!) simply take our lives back and go on doing what we want to do and living how we want to live?

Shortly after that time of commitment (re-commitment?), I felt called to missions.  At that point my experience was limited, and I am pretty sure my answer of “yes” still included a husband, children and “white-picket fence” future.  Never could I have imagined where He would lead me.

After living in sixteen different places since college graduation, I feel like I am finally home–in the Middle East, odd as that may seem.  I am convinced that He is working in the lives of the women around me and some have hearts burning with desire to know Him.  As I move about my city, I am trying to meet these ladies and share with them the Truth they long to know.

I’m living the life He means for me to live, one day at a time.  Tomorrow I could be hit by a car (I mean, really, there are no crosswalks!) and be on my way to see Him.  Or something could happen that sends me on a plane back to the States.  Maybe I’ll get married someday, or maybe I won’t.  It could be I will see crazy large amounts of people turn to Him. Or possibly His purposes for me will be different.

Whatever He has in store for me, I’m all in. Not all in with bitterness. Not all in with hesitancy.  I’m all in with a great big smile on my face.

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.”

End of the Rope with Addiction

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Do you ever feel torn between doing what you know is right, and then doing the wrong thing anyway? Choosing to continue in a sin that you should be able to be free of, yet you keep making the same mistake. We have some comforting words for you, the apostle Paul had this same struggle in Romans 7-8 regarding the Law. The Message translation Bible is not intended to be an everyday Bible, but what it is great at is expressing things in a new light with the same Biblical meaning. This could not be more true of this passage! Here are the phrases Paul uses in his struggle with sin.

  • I need something more!
  • I know the law and yet I can not keep it
  • Sin keeps sabotaging my best intentions
  • I obviously need help!
  • I have the will, but I can’t do it!
  • The moment I decide to do good, sin trips me up
  • I have tried everything and nothing helps, I am at the end of my rope

You should take time and read this entire chapter out loud and hear the urgency and distress in Paul’s voice. Go ahead, read it out loud.

Romans 7 Message Translation

Have you ever felt that way? When it comes to sin in your life like getting drunk, sex before marriage, drugs, lust, porn,and on and on? Have you been at the end of your rope with sin? Do you feel like there is nothing anyone can do for you? Well, there is great news! Romans 7:25-8:1-4.

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

Struggle with your addictions and then give them all to God. Make a stand in your life for sin to be “Not an Option!” Have you reached the end of your rope with sin?

Light out of darkness

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Why do we have difficulties?

As followers of the Way, we are called to hard lives. Jesus is pretty clear. Carry your cross.

The more we traverse through scripture, the more plain the cross becomes. Lives of sacrifice. Lives where we choose others over ourselves. Lives where we believe and act as if others are better than ourselves. And, turning the cheek and humbly accepting criticism and persecution that comes with that territory.

No wonder the path is narrow.

What part of God’s character does this come from?

After wrestling with ideas of suffering and difficulty, ponder the fact that God is the Creator. Does God wants to show His glorious power by bringing light in the darkness? How can God create light out of light? (If anyone could, He could). When there is darkness in our lives: darkness in our minds, bodies, families, workplaces, homes, neighborhoods, is God’s creative power most abundantly expressed?

The Beginning
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. …Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.…(Gen. 1:1-4)(HCSB)

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Cor. 4:6 (HCSB)

What if God wants to separate the light from the darkness in your life?

He can logically only separate light from darkness if darkness exists. Therefore, sin and evil in the world function as a part of His ultimate plan to redeem and show Himself most glorious and, for us, make us even more bright and beautiful than ever before, despite our stubborn will. The Sovereign Lord turns it all for our good by creating light out of the darkness of our stubborn will (For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV)

What is the darkness you are experiencing?
Could you imagine what light will look like in the center of the situation?
Being the artist that He is, what light might He be growing in you as a part of His masterpiece?

Did I Make a Mistake?

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My plane landed in Central Asia in the wee hours of the morning. After training, I couldn’t get here fast enough. This is where I felt called to and had been working towards for a long time. It was finally happening. I was joining the work of taking the Good News to the nations.

I piled my four VERY heavy bags on a cart, and basically skipped to the exit to meet my mentor. I was so excited to meet her. She dropped me off at the guest flat and told me she would pick me up in the morning to attend an office luncheon where I would meet the rest of the team. I was ready to hit the ground running.

The “guest flat” was in a dilapidated Soviet apartment building, and I was nervous to stay by myself. However, updated my Facebook status (you know, first things first), and settled in…. And then.. it hit…

I started sobbing. I’d never felt more alone, trapped, or scared. Doubts and fears flooded my heart. Three years suddenly seemed like an e-t-e-r-n-i-t-y. After texting with one of my mentors, I fell asleep two hours later. It would be better tomorrow, right? Nope…more tears. When my mom called, I tried to disguise my emotions (because, you know, moms can’t see through that), but I wept. I felt like a child again, being held by her momma. And through her, God held me. She didn’t tell me to come home, instead reminding me I was right where the Father wanted me. The first two weeks I could barely talk to anyone without crying. I even struggled to comprehend the Word through the jet lag, culture shock, and roller coaster emotions.

A local Believer shared with me she thinks we are often like the Israelites. She explained that although God parted the Red Sea to deliver them from the Egyptians and lead them to the Promised Land, they were grumbling about the mud on their feet. Okay, so the part about the mud is not in the Word, but there are plenty of accounts about the Israelites grumbling about other things.

This made me reflect on the grace and love He has shown me. He has done miraculous things in my life, demolished seemingly unmovable strongholds, and surrounded me with amazing supportive friends and family. And yet, I was struggling to trust. God never promised comfort or ease, but He does promise that He will NEVER leave us. I am NOT alone. Evidence His hand facilitated my journey to Central Asia is apparent. He led me here, He has a plan, and He will sustain me. Those first few days brought me to my knees, but it is the best place to be if I’m kneeling before Him. I’ll always remember His first Words to me in this country – “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14