I am 40 and Still Single

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - I am 40 and Still Single

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.

Loss When You Are All Alone

How do you handle the death of a loved one as a single person?

It’s a borderline selfish question that doesn’t seem quite as selfish once you break it down. Whether it’s a family member, dear friend, life partner, or spouse, the loss still sucks and is incredibly hard at any level. I’ve had a lot of losses in my life. By 19, I witnessed the burial of a teenage cousin, uncle, great grandmother, and two grandparents.

It was a 70/30 split on the expectation of their deaths, but each one produced a loss. Three happened over a year. In my early 20s, I felt the psychological loss of my father, who was a shell of who he used to be, because of an intense accident. By my mid-thirties, I had lost three of my favorite people in the whole world. One who had a considerable hand in shaping me into who I am today. In 2020, I suddenly lost my younger sister and three close friends. I’ve recently seen someone lose their spouse. Becoming not only a widow but also a single parent. I couldn’t imagine the pain, and I cried for them.

I feel like Jeremiah “Why has my pain been perpetual And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” 15:18

The loss just sucks. I paint this mournful portrait not to drum up pity or concern but to show I’m no stranger to loss. I know we all leave this world at some point. Our individual timelines vary just as our physical bodies and personalities do. But as I lay here, wide awake at 2:00 am (a grief side effect, I’m sure), I find tears rolling down my face at losing anyone else in my life. I go and listen to my mother’s snoring as proof of life. And with her signature sound, I write my minor panic off as an overreaction and begin to write this.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Back to the original question… how do you deal with death as a single person? When we lost my sister, I saw my brother-in-law (a different sister’s husband) swoop in and become this rock for our family. I watched couples console one another, which built a safe space to let out their tears and fears and be vulnerable.

How does someone do this alone?

  1. Everyone processes differently– I look at Eva’s passing. My mom, sister, and I all three processed it totally differently. My mom wanted silence and solitude, and DeeDee wanted only her immediate family around. I tried to crawl up in someone’s arms and just be held. Everyone’s version looks different.
    • Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
  2. You’re not really alone – even if silence and solitude is your process, God is sitting beside you, ready for whatever you have for Him. As cliche as it sounds, I felt like I was just wrapped in His arms and surrounded by His love. It also may have been the weighted blanket.
    • Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”
  3. Let people love you – just because it’s not romantic love doesn’t mean it’s not love and a gift sent from God. My friends were relentless in showing me care and support. One of my dearest friends texted or called every day until I told her I was okay. Y’all, if that’s not a divinely delivered friend, I don’t know who is.
    • John 13:35 “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

You are complete in Christ.

Your singleness doesn’t mean you don’t have support and love around you to help you get through the pain and grief. God puts these beautiful humans in your path exactly when you need them. He also is there, waiting for your relationship to begin. I can say from experience, even in my anger and frustration, God never left my side. He showed Himself in all these little ways, reminding me I’m not alone.

It took time, and I still struggle with the idea of being “alone” when my next loved one dies, but remembering that I have community and friends who will love me through my loss and my relationship with God will sustain me through those times are by far the most effective tools I have.

Single Adult POV Two Years into COVID

Table for One Ministries - Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Single Adult POV Two Years into COVID

“I tried going back to an in-person church, but I didn’t want to take the seat of a family who may need it.”

“My job moved fully remote, I live alone, and in two years, I have only been out to social events a handful of times.”

“I struggle with being alone. The pandemic and quarantine have made me even more alone and even harder to reconnect.”

“Being a single parent was hard already when COVID hit. I was already alone, and it was like a double hit of loneliness with no childcare available.”

“I lost my wife to COVID at 32. I didn’t want to be a single adult, and now I am a single parent and a widower.”

“I started going to church online to stay safe. Now I’m not sure how I would even start going back.”

Singles POV.

We hear you, and we are your advocate in the local church. We exist to build a community for single adults through discipleship, as we have done for 10 years. Your voice is heard, and we have dedicated our ministry to helping your pastor, leaders, community, and friends re-engage you in 2022.

All the quotes above are from real people who need authentic community now more than ever. Singles were already 51% of the adult population in the US before 2020, and the average age of widows was 57. With over 1 million passed away from covid, there are even more singles in our communities than we realize waiting to find a community to connect in.

Leaders to singles.

You have done an amazing job these past two years. You learned how to do relational ministry in ways we never imagined and may need to do again in the future. But at this moment, will you be bold enough to take action and reach singles in your church and your community? Singles are not a ministry your church used to have years ago. They are searching online and talking to friends to see where they can connect with people in their life stage. While your church should be the destination where they learn to be complete in Christ, are they driving past your building to find friends?

We are two years in, but the work has just begun for you to connect.

Singles, you will need to re-enter a rhythm of joining in a safe environment focused on Christ. We hear your pain, but we were made in the image of God to be in community and complete in Christ. Take a step to try to engage with a new church family. You may find new friends and relationships to help you be a disciple. Leaders, there are many things on your plate to do in 2022. Still, if you are bold enough to be single-friendly, you may just find half your community will now feel welcome to join you in the new initiatives. Email us at [email protected] to learn ways to connect with singles and be single-friendly.

 Table for One Ministries - Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Single Focused Conference

Is a Single Focused Conference Right For Your Church?

Find Out More

Filling the Silence

Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Filling the Silence (1)

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.

Stop Following Your Heart

https://tfoministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Copy-of-TFO-Table-for-One-Ministries-Ministry-for-Singles-and-Leaders-to-Singles-Stop-Following-Your-Heart.jpg

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.

Left Behind

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Left Behind

As a single guy who is old enough to be pondering questions such as, “Am I contributing enough to my 401(k)?” or, “Does my potential new job offer dental benefits, because I might need dentures soon…?”, I have been around long enough to have witnessed the marriage of many of my best friends. Heck, most of my friends are on their second or third kid and are worrying about which school district has the best honors program for their supposedly gifted offspring!

Single adults often have to act enthusiastic in uncomfortable social situations, but perhaps the most painful and awkward act we have to perform is putting on a big smile and offering a heartfelt “Congratulations, that’s awesome, I’m so happy for you guys!” when our best buddy or childhood friend finally decides to tie the knot – and we have no prospects on the horizon whatsoever!  Maybe you have “made your peace” with the whole Being Single thing and are content with where God has put you in life – good job, great friends, nice place to live, a church you feel really plugged into, etc. – but, to my mind at least, there is nothing that will challenge this state of contentedness more profoundly than the news of a close friend that’s getting engaged.  Sometimes it doesn’t even take that much – we’ve all had those friends who were mainstays of our social group and who we hung out with all the time, but as soon as they found and began dating their soul mate they immediately vanished from the group and were gone from our lives as suddenly as the flip of a light switch.

Now don’t get me wrong – as someone who hopes to be married someday myself, but more importantly, as a Christ-follower who, in my better moments, attempts to treat others the way I would like to be treated – I am definitely not saying we should not or cannot truly rejoice with our friends when they come to us with the news that their lives are going to be permanently changed – far from it!  But if we are painfully honest with ourselves, we will admit that sometimes it is like attempting to grin cheerfully during a root canal to try to be as sincerely happy for our soon-to-be-married friends as we hope they would be for us if it were our turn.

So what to do?   First of all, acknowledge that it stinks – not that you necessarily need to tell them that (and if you do tell them, pray long and hard beforehand that God would give you the right words, the right time, and the right spirit in which to have that conversation).  Just be honest with yourself and with God and admit that, yes, you are losing someone, at least for a while.  In fact, it’s almost like someone close to you has died.  For a romantic relationship to strengthen into a God-honoring, rock-solid marriage, the couple has to enter into a much more exclusive relationship than any they (and you) have ever experienced.  Know that your engaged or newly married friends are not (99% of the time, at least) intentionally trying to leave you, their single friend, behind – they just need to spend a lot of quality time together in order to enter into that intimate relationship that God desires for them to have so that they can truly become one.   But none of this changes the simple fact that you’ll miss having them around like they were before!

And of course, as a single adult, having a friend get engaged and married is just another not-so-subtle reminder that we are not.  It’s not that we mean to be childish or jealous, it’s that our minds are being bombarded with thoughts like, “Why not me?” “Am I going to be the last one standing?” and on and on it goes… So yeah, just say it, “It stinks!”

Having said that, know that genuinely rejoicing with your friends while at the same time mourning the passing of an era and the permanent alteration of your friendship is not only possible, it’s also not “wrong,” so you shouldn’t feel guilty or weirded out about being in this seemingly conflicted state of mind.  As a guy, I’m not too proud to admit something like this, but let’s face it – God also made men just as capable as women of feeling loss.  We men probably don’t express it the way the ladies do, but yeah, we’ll definitely miss not being able to spontaneously call up our buddy to go skeet-shooting on a Saturday morning without him having to first check with his “social planner.”

Finally, remember that your “couple” friends still need you!  Yes, they will withdraw into themselves for a while and yes, your relationship with them will never be exactly what it used to be, but just because they are getting married doesn’t mean they don’t want or need your friendship any more.  It may take them a few months or so to realize it, but they will wake up one day and realize that their husband or wife, however wonderful he or she is, cannot satisfy their every human need – and God made each one of us with a deep need for friendship.  They need your friendship as they enter their new romantic relationship, and they will still need your friendship months and years after they get married and start having kids.

God is not the author of pain, sadness, or loneliness – His word tells us that all these things are the by-products of our fallen and broken world and will one day pass away with the coming of the new Heaven and Earth. Sometimes, though, I believe God allows us to deal with the “loss” of a good friend so that we will be reminded that He is, indeed, truly enough. He and He alone is our constant companion, and in a world of constant turbulence and change, we need this reminder often.  He always has a way of providing exactly what we need at just the right time – and sometimes He has to take away what we think we need to show us what we really need. Thankfully, His wisdom and timing are always perfect, and when nothing else in the world makes sense, we can trust His heart and know that, as a gracious and loving Father, He will never fail to provide for our needs in ways that are far greater than we would ever imagine!

Strong and Courageous

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Strong and Courageous

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:7-9

Have you ever had big change in your life? The type of change that you know nothing will be the same going forward if you do it? Joshua knew that what the Lord was calling him to do was a BIG change for him and the nation of Israel. We do not know 100% if Joshua was married from Scripture, so imagine what he as a single adult is facing when the Lord calls him to lead Israel. He is leading the Lord’s people as a single adult hearing from the Lord in Joshua 1 what his marching orders are to be.

 


 

 Table for One Ministries - Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Single Focused Conference

Is a Single Focused Conference Right For Your Church?

Find Out More


Reading this text as the Lord speaking to Joshua as a single adult does make sense. As a single adult it is easy to feel alone, afraid, and discouraged. But God addresses these fears and lets him know that He will be with him everywhere he goes, so Joshua should be strong and courageous. God’s promise is the same for all of us, to be strong and courageous for the Lord and He will stand by us.

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

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - I Am a Widow, But Do I Have To Be Single-

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.

Get Out There

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Get Out There

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

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Sunday Single Selection

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.