Articles

Practicing Is Harder than Preaching: Lessons from a Single Adult
By Linda Hardin

I said, “Good morning, America,” early on Sunday morning and “Hello, Church of the Nazarene,” the following Sunday. Being at and working for the church were part of my family’s weekly routine. Therefore, it was natural for me to return to helping at church camp following my first year of teaching.

What I anticipated as a pleasant and fulfilling experience soon became problematic as I frequently heard, “Why aren’t you married?” or some version of that question. Living in “I’m-not-married-yet” state, I had no good response. After a summer or two of the same questions, I found other activities to occupy the summers.

Several years later and at a retreat for single adults, one speaker offered some tongue-in-check advice. At the next family gathering when asked the “why aren’t you married” question, the suggested reply was “why aren’t you divorced yet?” The goal was to shift the discomfort from you to the other person. While the crowd laughed as they envisioned, the scene, we also recognized it wasn’t a workable solution. The collective conclusion was that someone, someplace will ask privacy invading questions and the best response may be to shift topics.

As single women, we will face uncomfortable situations. We may create some of them while the majority will be created by others. Early in life as a single woman, I tended to cope by escape and avoidance. It didn’t take too long to realize I was the loser. Therefore, I developed the following strategies—some I created while others were gleaned from conversations and reading.

1. Completeness comes from within, not from another person.
2. Statistics reveal that it is impossible for every person to be married; therefore, you may not get married or remarried.
3. Decide what you want your life to be—regardless of your marital status.
4. Some church activities are geared for family and you want to—or are expected—to attend. Find a group of single adults and attend as a group. This avoids feeling as a “fifth wheel” or leaving an empty chair at the table.
5. Many of us are single by “default”—that is, we have determined our dating standards and refuse to deviate from them.
6. Married life isn’t better than single life—it’s just different. Married life and single life have challenges, good and bad times, periods of loneliness, and the list goes on.
7. You are fiercely loved and valued by God. Yes, sometimes we want God to have some skin on. Friends and family members often affirm and validate us.
8. God has things to teach you—but learning the lessons aren’t the key to finding a marriage partner.
9. God’s ultimate will for everyone is that we know and serve Him—whether we’re married or single.
10. Singleness provides unique opportunities to know and serve God.
11. Happiness is a state of mind and a decision—not a relationship.
12. Hopes and dreams are fluid and will change throughout our lives. Grieve the loss of hopes and dreams; then form new hopes and dreams.
13. Learn the difference between Loneliness and Aloneness.
        Loneliness is a state of mind… Aloneness is a situation.
        Loneliness dwells on the loss and refuses to go forward… Aloneness acknowledges the loss.
        Loneliness is a poison which permeates the personality… Aloneness is a fact of life.
        Loneliness is something we allow to happen to ourselves… Aloneness is something which happens
        to us and is outside our control.

I continue to learn to live life as a single adult. There will always be good and bad times, difficult and easy decisions, times of joy and sadness, and times of busyness and loneliness. As I listen to and watch my married friends, I see life has many commonalities. Sometimes the only difference is the setting. Single or married, we face similarities—the difference is often how I view them. I’ve chosen to say, “This is my life and I’m going to make it as good as I can.” Will you join me on the journey?
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Linda is a General Coordinator of the Nazarene Denomination and her duties include: Single Adult Ministries, Women's Ministries, and Young Adult Ministries.

If you would like to contact her you may do so by e-mailing at: lghardin46@gmail.com, or lhardin@nazarene.org.

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