How do you see God using you and your spiritual gifts to edify the Body? How do you see Him using your singleness as a means of edifying the Body?
I ask the question: what’s in my hand? and then I use it. Where there are needs I can meet, I meet them. I serve in our connections ministry, as a covenant membership affirmation leader, and our repentance and reconciliation ministry—all places where I was profoundly affected by the gospel when I first came to our church.
I’ve also found rich blessings and deep wrestling in my living situation. I don’t want to wait for marriage to begin caring for and shepherding in my home, so I live with four girls all younger than me. We live very simply and intentionally in our home—it is not perfect, but it is a peaceful place. We pray for one another, ask hard questions, keep accountable, confess, laugh, and share life together. Maybe it’s my way of being set in a family, but I think it’s also God’s way. The mark of Jesus’ ministry on earth was one of hospitality, inviting others in, instead of closing them out. Singleness gives me the opportunity to live my entire life like that.
What are hindrances or challenges that single women face as they attempt to use their spiritual gifts in the local church?
One thing I love about my church regarding women is our leadership intentionally says, “We want to find every opportunity to say yes to you, instead of every reason to say no.” I find it to be the same with singles.
The challenges for me are primarily internal. I disqualify myself before even asking the question, and I find it very common among single men and women. This is part of the fall, but it’s also part of a culture speaking so highly of marriage, and giving so much air time to it; singles can feel like an afterthought. It doesn’t help that there are two caricatures given to singles (the man-boy and the embittered-girl) that aren’t explicitly debunked within the local church. There are plenty of articles about it, but on the ground, within the local church, those caricatures should be identified for what they are: exaggerations of things we already know need to be submitted to Christ.
How can church leaders help single women walk in their gifts in the church? How can they elevate the gift and calling of singleness?
The truth is there are few who have been called to a life of singleness, or have the gift of singleness as Paul talked about it. But another truth severely misunderstood in Church culture is that whatever my portion for today is, that is God’s gift to me. It isn’t that he’s given the gift of marriage to others, and I’m the giftless kid in the corner. Today my gift is singleness. There’s a rhetoric in Church culture that assumes every single is waiting to be married, which may be true in some respects, but it doesn’t help us to treasure these days as the gift they are. In order for us to know these days are a gift, though, we have to see singles being utilized as they are, not waiting for a future version of them to materialize through marriage.
Another way is to simply pastor your single women well. We obviously don’t have husbands, and many of us don’t have fathers or brothers taking an active interest in our lives. Don’t be afraid of us, we’re not the Proverbs 7:10 woman, and if you treat us like we are, you’re perpetuating the problem. I have four pastors/elders at my church who press toward me, ask me hard questions, point out sin when they see it; they are utterly unimpressed with me and unintimidated by my gender. They see me as a person and pastor me as such.
What do married women in the church need to know about single women in the church that would help cultivate community and unity?
Everyone is waiting for something. One of the sad sides of social media is it can send the message that we have everything we want: husband, kids, house, vacation, etc. One of the most life-changing things my married sisters have done for me is let me enter into their brokenness, their waiting. Barrenness, husbands who struggle to lead well, wives who struggle to submit well, kids who challenge them, no time for quiet, etc.. I’ve learned as I’ve entered into their waiting with them—praying with them, rejoicing with them, mourning with them—that we are not so different after all.
How can married women in the church encourage single women specifically in their singleness?
We want you to help us! I know that might sound overwhelming to a young mother with three kids and a tired, hardworking husband, but sometimes we need you in our corner entering into the work of dating. Even if nothing comes of your matchmaking efforts, it is such a comfort to know we are thought of in that respect.
Another thing that helps is when your husbands are in our corners too. Prolonged singleness can lead to a severe lack of balance in male/female relationships. I’m not in college or a young adult ministry, so having strong men around me has to take a very intentional ask from me. It means so much to us when godly, trustworthy men care for us. There seems to be much fear (and perhaps rightfully so) about the possibility of sexual transgression, but when that drum is beaten, it sends the message to single women that we are dangerous or all men are predators. That’s not true of the men in my life and they know it’s not true of me—but the only way we can know that is to enter into true communion. Married women help us by trusting us to receive counsel and leadership from their husbands. This takes deep intentionality on the parts of all parties. It is work, yes, but it is a worthwhile work.
You wrote an ebook, A Single Serving. Why did you write it, and what are the main points you hope readers take away?
I compiled the book after an article I wrote at Christianity Today on the subject seemed to resonate with so many. I tapped those leaders to contribute because I’ve seen them leading in wise, capable, and profound ways not in spite of their singleness, but because of their singleness. The caricature that single guys are man-boys playing video games and watching porn, and single girls are bitter and desperate for their Prince Charming is just not the case from what I’ve seen. Nearly every unmarried person I know is fighting the fight well, with purpose and integrity, joy and hard work. Are there some making unwise choices with their time and minds? Yes. But it doesn’t help for me to call attention to that ad nauseum. It is better for me to show them a better way. That was my purpose for the ebook.
What are your greatest joys as a single woman in your church?
Oh, goodness. I joy in the reality that today is a gift from God. However I choose to spend or squander it, it’s his gift for his glory. I love my life, though it is not the life I dreamed of, or even imagined at the beginning of this year. God continually brings me through difficult seasons and joy-filled seasons, and I don’t begrudge him at all. I have time to invest in my home and my girls, friendships with married couples, friendships with guys, working on time-consuming projects, studying God’s word, writing, speaking. Do I pray he gives me the equal gift of marriage someday? Yes, absolutely. I long to partner with a husband for the cause of the gospel. But I won’t wait until marriage to do the things I want to do in marriage: practice hospitality, generosity, care for our home and others. Those things start now and I find rich joy in them.
You can connect with Lore on her blog, Sayable, or through Twitter. Her ebook, A Single Serving, is available here.