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Brad Owen - 5/20/2018

Last week Jon introduced our new series “Family Matters.” Today we are going to begin exploring how to navigate singleness. Now, before you checkout because this topic/life-stage doesn’t apply to you, think about those you know who currently are or someday will be navigating being single.

There are a lot of nuances and variables related to being single. It would be foolish for me to attempt to speak to all of them. This morning I want to spend our time unpacking some common truths in the hopes that they can be applied to the specific situations of life.
As we move through some of the different conversations as part of this series, we are going to break many of them into 3 stages. Expectation. Frustration. Hope.

Singleness occurs in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. I’m confident that I won’t hit everyone.
· A Young person not yet dating
· A person of any age without the desire to date
· A person who has dated and is once again single
· A person who is Divorced
· A person single because of a Death (Widow or Widower)
· Others

If you are single, or know a single person, you can probably identify with some of the expectations of a single person. These expectations can vary greatly depending on the person and their life experience as well as their relationship with Jesus.

Expectation of a Single Person (There is nothing spiritual about this list)
· Temporary
o The Dreamer- I will meet and fall in love with Mr/Miss right, and that we will live happily ever after.
o The Hopeful- God will bring the right person into my life at the right time.
o The Hunter- The next unsuspecting soul that crosses my path will be mine.
· Permanent- (Content or Discontent)
o The Hopeless- No one will ever want me. I’m to broken, or I have too much baggage.
o The Content- I don’t feel the need for a relationship, or I’m focused on serving Christ and others and don’t have time to worry about a relationship.
· Other- I’m sure there are others that I have not included.

There can be strong emotion attached to our expectations. They are part of who we are. Where we have been and what we have been through shape our perspective on the future. Our expectations for our relationship status can be one of the most emotionally charged issues because we tie it to our identity.

With any stage of life, we are eventually hit with reality. Our expectations may not be, and usually aren’t, the reality that come to be. As it relates to singleness, there are plenty of ways that people move from Expectation into Frustration.

Frustration of a Single Person
· Blame or question God,
o The temporary singleness isn’t so temporary.
o God, why won’t _____________.
· Blame others
o There are no good men, or there are no good women
o Other people may speak falsehoods into your life or give bad advice
o No one will ever want me because of my kids, or I don’t have time for another person because of my kids.
o Our culture creates pressure to look a certain way and to check all the relational boxes. Our culture does not value being single and our culture promotes being self-absorbed.
· Blame or question themselves
o Become disillusioned and believe they need to lower their standards.
o I’m unworthy of being love by anyone who would be good for me. I’m too screwed up.
o Other negative belief about self.
o I’m just so tired of feeling alone
There are seemingly countless ways that people can become frustrated as reality fails to line up with expectation. I’m once again certain that I have not exhaustively covered every possibility, but I hope that you can fill in any gaps on your own of ways that frustration develops.

So where do we find hope? How do we move from a place of frustration to a place of hope and joy?
For starters, Jesus was single, so there is that. He gets it! I know…none of us are Jesus, but He truly does understand the struggle.
I don’t think that we have to be Jesus to be satisfied in a season of singleness.

We need relationship with God and others.
Singleness does not equal alone. In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God doesn’t intend for us to be alone as we navigate life. He gave us the ability to be in relationship with others because he created us to be relational beings. We have 2 sources of relationship. God and others. God’s promise to us is that He will be with us always. The Spirit of God dwells in all who believe in Him. Even when you are isolated from other people, you will never be alone if you are in Christ.

The body of Christ can be a great opportunity to forge/explore deeper bonds and relationships with others. But simply being present at church where others are, does not lead to relationships.

Initiative isn’t just helpful, its essential. (The “Be With” factor)
We must choose to move toward God, and toward others. We can’t grow in our walk with Jesus if we don’t take steps toward Him. Likewise, we can’t grow in relationship with others if we aren’t available. We must be willing to put ourselves out there and “Be With” people. Deep friendship within the church is a good and healthy thing. If you aren’t willing to take initiative, or if you are never willing to “Be With” others, you will probably feel like you are on the outside looking in. Don’t blame your feelings of loneliness on others if you aren’t willing to engage and initiate.

We can celebrate the blessing/freedom of singleness.
1 Corinthians 7:8 Paul refers to singleness as a gift. Paul himself was single and believed that he was more effective as a result.

In his book, which we have for sale at the info center in the lobby, Single. Dating. Engaged. Married., Ben Stuart says this, …singleness, dating, and marriage, while important, are not the main story line of your life. God is drawing each of us, who are broken, imperfect, sinful people, into relationship with our King. The main story line in each of our lives is what God is doing to restore you, and how He is using you to restore others to Himself. Paul refers to singleness as a gift because a single person’s attention can primarily be on the main story line, which is reuniting the lost children with their father. Fewer distractions, fewer anxieties for pleasing others,…”

So, as a single person, is your attention primarily on the main story line of reuniting the lost children with their father?

He also says in his book that, “…Single people have an unprecedented amount of discretionary time…pursue an undistracted devotion to the Lord.”
While in this season, will you take full advantage of the freedom and maximize the impact for the Kingdom? Will you passionately pursue God, pursue others, and pursue to do everything that you can to facilitate a family reunion as the Father is reunited with His children?

A wise friend shared these thoughts and practices that help her have the right attitude in her season of singleness.

Yes, when I remember to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and the joy set before me into eternity (Hebrews 12:2).....when I take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (II Corinthians 10:5)....when I recall that my Maker is my husband - the Lord Almighty is His name - the Holy One of Israel is my Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. (Is 54:5)...when I occupy my life with the people on God's heart and their needs.

For me, that means I am careful of what I read (ex: I don't read a bunch of romance novels), what movies I watch (those are pretty few anyway), the music (songs) I listen to i.e. avoid the love songs, and the places I go.

It means when I see a couple enjoying their relationship such as at a wedding or holding hands in church or sitting together at the Muni or going out to eat together- that I try to thank God for the joy of that relationship and ask Him to bless them rather than watch in jealousy/envy.

It doesn't mean that I'm always successful! Simply that I know jealousy, envy, anger, depression over my "lack of a mate" doesn't lead me to greater happiness! I know I must make consistent choices to "be content in any and every situation". (Phil 4:12-13)

Sometimes too, I have to remind myself that being unhappily married is WORSE than being single! The grass is NOT always greener "on the other side" of the fence....there is manure in every pasture!

As the band comes out and we prepare to continue to our worship through song, I want to share a story with you as I close.

Story of Mackenzie.
As she was entering high school, Mackenzie was fun, winsome, outgoing young lady. Like many young teen women, she was searching for acceptance, approval, and to be made whole. Before she was 17 she found out that she was pregnant. In the months and years that followed, MacKenzie found that she was faced with singleness as a teenage mother.
The expectations that she had for how life was supposed to go were shattered by the reality that she now faced.
How will I finish school? How will I find a job and childcare? How could anyone ever want to be with me now?
She went through cycles of grief and doubt and growth.
Mackenzie remained connected Jesus, to her supportive family, and to the body of Christ. She was eventually able to find peace and hope in Christ alone.
A few weeks ago my family had the privilege of attending Mackenzie’s beautiful wedding. God eventually, when she was ready, brought a young man into her life that was willing to embrace her, her story, and her daughter.
Mackenzie found hope in Jesus and in the body of Christ. Mackenzie saw God redeem her past and bring about something she feared would never come.

Mackenzie’s story isn’t every story. But every person has a story. Every person has the opportunity to be used by God and experience Hope and contentment.

Whether you are in a stage of singleness, or you know someone who is, there is Hope in Jesus. There is hope in pursuing connection within the body of Christ. There is hope in the blessing and freedom that comes from being used by God. Allow God to use your availability to connect others back to Him.
Be like my friend Sunny, and pursue to make every thought submit to Christ.

Worship Playlist

  • Holy Spirit - Bryan & Katie Torwalt
  • This Is Amazing Grace - Phil Wickham
  • Blessed Assurance - Elevation Worship
  • Good Good Father - Chris Tomlin
  • Lakeside Worship Playlist
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