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.

Filling the Silence

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Take 30 seconds and just listen to your surroundings. Go on, seriously, right where you are, clear your mind and just listen….

For most of us, our lives are filled with noise. Whether it’s the noise of a busy street, music in our headphones, or the tv in the background, so we don’t have to feel alone. To be honest, most often, the noise is comforting, right? Because the noise is there, we don’t have to be alone with our thoughts, or our apartment doesn’t feel empty.

We find ourselves in the fact that we are almost always trying to fill the silence, yet it is in the silence that God speaks and reveals Himself most often.

The Prophet Elijah knew this better than anyone. In the scene where he is going up against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), God does something incredible. The prophets of Baal tried to get Baal to reveal himself by using loud chanting, singing, dancing, and crying out. For hours and hours. It was in the moment that everyone and everything got still that the one true God revealed Himself.

Can you imagine this moment? Elijah walks up to the altar with hundreds of people around, looking on in complete silence and anticipation of what might happen. Instead of a team of people dancing and causing a commotion, Elijah knelt and began to pray quietly. Then out of the silence (probably the occasional cough, because there is always that guy or a baby crying), BOOM, a column of fire comes from the sky and consumes the altar! Elijah’s God, the one TRUE GOD, exists and is all-powerful.

Fast forward to chapter 19 of 1 Kings, Elijah runs for his life and is hiding out in a cave, all alone. God wants to reveal Himself to Elijah and calls him out of the cave. Elijah experiences a strong wind that broke rocks, an earthquake, and a roaring fire. Then everything settled down, and in the absolute stillness of that moment, God spoke. In a moment of seemingly complete loneliness, he was never alone.

Have you ever asked yourself something like, “where is God?” Or “Why can’t I hear God?”

Instead of filling the silence, we all need to spend more time resting in the silence. Because God is not in the noise, God is in the stillness, in the quiet. If you aren’t hearing from God, chances are you aren’t spending time resting in the silence.

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.

Distracted

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Life is full of distractions. We’re distracted at work, at home, with media, and even our local churches. It’s not hard to wonder why it’s so hard to stay focused on the most important things in our life. How we handle distractions is a part of maturing our faith. Choosing the difference between a distraction and God’s calling is vital to following Christ.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matt. 4:19, NIV)

Do you find yourself starting a task, only to pick up your phone at the first ding of text notice? Could you go more than an hour without picking up your phone? Longer?

I often remind myself, I survived for years without a cell phone. I didn’t always get a phone message until I arrived home and checked the answering machine. Sometimes that was late into the evening. Friends didn’t panic. Family didn’t call 911. We just trusted that God had a plan and it didn’t usually involve immediate gratification and the distractions of media devices.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, NIV)

Jesus instructed his followers to do just that–Follow. He didn’t add, “when you can.” “If you have time.”

Being obedient requires a focus and Him and His calling for you this moment, this day, this week, this life. It may mean saying no to events. It may mean saying no to the four-hour marathon of your favorite show. And, yes, at times, it may mean not filling up our weekend schedule with friends and family. Sometimes we just need to turn off the world off for an hour, a day, a weekend, a week and spend time with Him.

When I find I’m getting agitated with the little things, I’m reminded that I’m not doing the Big Thing. Shutting off the noise of music, television, computer, phones brings me back to where I should have never left.

We all know we need to sometimes turn off the distractions, but how often do we take the challenge? Is it time? Turn off the noise. Ignore the distractions. Turn up the volume of Christ in your life. Spend time with Him today and follow where He leads.

Question Engagement

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You have been single for a few years but recently you have been dating someone and it is getting serious, real serious. You are both casually talking about building a life together and dreaming big dreams for your future. Pause. Before you start down those roads too far, remember the step between being married and dating is being engaged. Often engagement is undervalued and seen merely as a step to get a ring and reasons to start planning a big wedding day. Engagement is an important time for you both; it’s a time to solidify the little details in your relationship before the big day. But before you get engaged, you need to ask a few questions. By this point you have hopefully asked the big questions of compatibility and feel like things are going to work out. Questions about your spiritual, physical, and emotional compatibility. Right before you get engaged, now is the time to ask the small questions. 101 of them is a good start. We recommend 101 Questions to ask BEFORE you get engaged by H. Norman Wright because it forces a couple to process fully the commitment they are about to make. These questions may seem repetitive at first, but every couple we have seen go through it has learned more about themselves and their potential future partner. Christ is the foundation of a life-long relationship. With Him, all things are possible and together you will be one before Him in marriage. Take time to work out the small details before the hustle and bustle of being engaged and planning a wedding.  Your relationship will benefit tremendously by doing so.

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.

Being a Church Where Same-Sex Attraction Singles are Welcomed

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At Table for One Ministries we want every church to have an environment in which those struggling with homosexually or acting on their earthly desires can come to find the truth of God’s Word regarding the issue. We have asked those who struggle with same-sex attraction what environment they were in when they shared their struggle and reached out for help. We also asked what the church can do to reach out to men and women like them in an effort help them fight against this struggle.

 

One shared his struggle first in a group setting of 10-15 guys that had been sharing about sexual struggles they were having. He met with this group for over a year before also admitting he struggled, but in a same-sex attraction way. He shared his experience because another member of the group shared about his same-sex attraction issues. He first talked with a person one-on-one before coming out to a group of men for accountability. All of these guys shared with people they trusted and did not feel like they would be judged or cast off for doing so.

 

Accountability is a key component for any follower of Christ to grow closer to the Lord. James 5:16 promotes the idea of sharing our sins with one another for the reason being healed through prayer. Like any sin, same-sex attraction needs a group of strong supporters praying for the healing of that person to turn from that sin. Without this network of prayer, the one struggling is left alone to fight that sin. Accountability is also a hard thing to describe. Accountability is not just merely sharing sins to one another, but the act of another believer challenging a person to grow and take positive actions.

 

While every believer must confess their sins to the Lord and acknowledge Jesus died for those sins, an accountability partner can serve as reinforcement of the commitments we make to the Lord. In these cases, the 10-15 person home groups were broken into assigned accountability partners. While this is a great way to emphasize the importance of accountability, it can lack the cohesiveness needed with a pair of believers to share openly with one another. Accountability through home groups or an intimate setting is the first environment needed to help those struggling with same-sex attraction and have a safe place to share that challenge.

 

The second environment needed is one that apply too many areas and set by the leader or minister of the group. All participants communicated that the reason they stayed and eventually sought help at a particular church was because their leader mentioned same-sex attraction as one of many sins. This minister made it known it was no worse than any other struggle or sin people face. By him taking time to list struggles that included same-sex attraction, they knew they were in a place to find help. While an environment of trust and awareness needs to be built by a minister, it can also be talked about too often and lose its effect.

 

Lay leaders also play a supportive role in allowing those with this sin to find a place of healing and accountability. Ministers must train their leaders adequately in what it means to disciple a person and hold them accountable. Both of these can take different amounts of time for each person and require dedication from every leader to seek out intentional relationships with others for the intent of discipleship. For one single adult, a lay leader took time to friend him and ask how he could pray with him and help him in his walk with the Lord. It was during that one-on-one relationship that he shared his struggle and finally started down a road to end the sinful behavior.

 

If the church is going to be open to helping those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those in the LGBT community, they must provide environments and awareness for their leaders to do so.

 

Does your church have a place where this type of accountability can occur? If not, what could you do to start such a group?

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.

Separated or Single?

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He walked out on his marriage a month ago and comes to your church. He’s brand new and comes to the singles group. He seems nice and you greet him, talk to him, and connect him. Over lunch that week, he mentions that he is recently divorced. As the conversation progresses, you realize that when he says “divorced” he mean that he has left his wife and the “paperwork” is still “in process”. So then, is this person divorced? As a minister of the Gospel, how do you counsel him? Is he single or is he married?

A real world problem for singles ministries is dealing with a person who is separated but not divorced or, in our view, even single. Table for One Ministries defines divorced as “The papers are filed” for a reason. We believe that until a divorce is legally finalized that person is married. Marriage is a sacred commitment and by all means should be fought for until the end. Separated is nothing more than married but not together. It’s still marriage.

This is NOT to say singles ministries cannot help. The church can and must help in this situation, but singles ministry should be for singles not married adults. The problem is introducing a hurting, frustrated, married person to a group of happy, healthy single people does not encourage the married person to seek God’s strength to fight for their marriage. Instead, it encourages them to abandon their marriage and seek the “happy single life” they see in front of them.We can hear the criticism now:  “Every case is different and there should be exceptions,” “Divorces can take years,” and “Things are over, so why wait?”

We encourage the waiting to give God time to work. Emotions run high during separations, and they need to be given time to let God speak to BOTH people involved.

To those separated: marriage commitment is a big deal. Leaving it should not be a simple task. Allow God to move and even if that divorce takes months to sort out, take time to heal before looking to engage the single adult world. Leaders, protect your singles from getting involved with a married person, and encourage the separated adult looking to get involved in a married adult group first, giving God time to work in their life.

A culture that hides death hides the Gospel

A culture that hides death hides the Gospel

History lessons teach the impact of death prevalent in culture when death is removed. A look at the Middle Ages finds people lived daily with the reality of death. A look at our current culture reveals a much different story. The current American lifestyle not only doesn’t discuss death, it finds ways to minimize and remove it from our daily life.

An obsession with a youth-focused culture certainly is a major voice of today’s messaging. Another important factor? The lack of value and respect for previous generations. One example of the local church. Funerals used include more than a biographical speech. The usual funeral included presence at a cemetery and at the very least, on the way to worship, the parishioners passed a neighboring cemetery, a visual reminder of our fleeting, temporary life.

For single adults, this is a compounded issue. Not only do you have all the factors of a culture ignoring the consequences of lifestyle and morals upon death, there is the added pressure of marriage. Marriage isn’t the finish line but an expectation of an event to occur in our youth and an achievement before death. However, this could not be farther from the truth. Being complete in Christ is not related to an achievement, but rather a commitment to follow Him.

 

Choices to view death?

 

Death gives life perspective

For singles, your relationship status is momentary, not eternal. Consider when Jesus was asked who will be married in heaven.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Matthew 22:29-30 (NIV)

Passages, when Jesus talks about how much we are valued, do not include the marriage relationship. Knowing the end result helps us to curate the life God calls us to live.

 

Death gives the Gospel a platform

When eternity is examined, the Gospel provides light in the darkness. In a moment of self-sufficiency people rarely reflect upon things greater than themselves or things to come. When death is discussed, it is a reminder of our temporary life on Earth, a reminder that gives urgency to sharing the gospel. To share with others that all should know him as Lord and Savior and welcome the gift to spend eternity with Him, not apart from Him. The realization of this will absolutely change the daily life.

 

Death shows Love

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Eternal love is not one engulfed in a marriage relationship. True, eternal love is a God who sent his only son to die for us so we would not have to spend eternity apart from Him. It was His atonement on the cross that is love eternal. Singles, do not let culture influence the way we value eternal love. It should always be based on a Biblical foundation.

 

Jesus was single too

A life fully lived is not defined by relationship status, but by following the will of God. Not only was Jesus single but several main characters in scripture were single or single during a season of their life when God used them. Take heart, our savior was and isn’t back the same life status. Single. Regardless of relationship status, God uses everyone on Earth to bring glory to his kingdom.

 

Grasping death gives Eternal significance to your everyday life. It is our hope and desire as a Ministry that all singles would follow God every day and share the gospel with everyone. One way to ensure your passion for God’s kingdom is to keep the temporary nature of our days at the forefront of your daily life.