Not Just Half
Coming into my mid-twenties, I’m finding that my pool of single friends is dwindling rather quickly. I’m reluctant to log onto social media to see yet another picture of a shiny new engagement ring, or a cute little baby bump. Occasionally, I’ll come across a meme or two of a calloused joke, comparing the life-accomplishments of others to the number of stamps on my rewards card until my next free coffee. I cringe at these myopic slants because they reveal the reality of how the world perceives the “single” person: inferior and incomplete.
Nevermind the fact that one might have degrees, a fulfilling career, and a fruitful ministry. Still, somehow, the mind subliminally discounts the unmarried person, only seeing a half-finished puzzle. I’ve been overlooked for someone much younger, simply because my singularity is somehow robbing me of life experiences that will someday cultivate real maturity.
Beginning at a very young age, the idea is planted in the minds of individuals that a person’s life reaches its fullness when he or she meets the person they will marry. Almost every Disney Princess movie and every fairytale elicits the same plot: a princess in distress, waiting for some spell to wear off that only a prince can break; he will rescue her and their life begins happily ever after, blah blah blah...
Well, there are two problems with this skewed thinking. 1) This storyline conveys the idea that life and purpose begin when, and IF, you’ve met who you will spend the rest of your life with; until then, life is a big, stalling wait. 2) If this is our perception, then we live oblivious to the truth that completion comes from the fullness of a relationship with Jesus, and a spouse is only designed to complement.
Unfortunately, we cater to society’s skew of singularity more than we may intend. Whether feeling it necessary to always play “matchmaker” or to overcompensate by telling them “how lucky” they are, we solidify the idea that either way, their current status is unorthodox.
I was attending an event awhile back, and the topic came up about “how to make single people in your church family feel included.” Several people projected their kind answers about inviting them to dinner, or to sit with them at church functions. Then a man stood up and confidently stated, ”If there’s a single fella in my church, I’m gonna find him a woman!” Many laughed, and a few applauded. However, his solution troubled me. Up to that point, no one had insinuated that there was anything wrong with the status of the single individual, but their responses validated his stance.
Later, I stood by overhearing a conversation from an older woman who was being asked about her grandchildren. She sweetly responded with, “I’ve never been married or had children. I guess I forgot to do that!” My heart broke a little for her. It was obvious in her tone that she wasn’t proud of it, and may in fact have lived her whole life believing she was always “just half.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. Scripture confirms that to have a spouse is a blessing! But whether it be a season of waiting, or not at all, a person’s identity is not reflected in their relationship status. A recent article stated, “The conversation of our merit can happen outside of the mention of marriage entirely. In fact, viewing our worth through the lens of marriage is a shallow vantage: through it, you can only see our worth as a partner to a spouse rather than as a follower of Jesus Christ.”
If you’re reading this and you’re starting to feel guilty for responding similarly to anything mentioned above: it’s okay! I’m prepared to offer a few helpful suggestions on how you might encourage and empower the single people in your life.
One way to validate your single friend is to encourage them to push towards eternity, choosing to advance the Kingdom of God, INSTEAD of trying to taint their relational contentment (we do that enough on our own!). Help them to understand their value and identity found in Jesus Christ. When (and if) the time comes for them to be united with a spouse, it’ll be a blessing to their marriage for them to have their identity secure in Jesus.
Help them get plugged in. Not always, but most often, a single person has a lot more free time than one who might have a spouse and children. So, utilize them! Paul encourages the unmarried in 1 Corinthians 7 to use this time to devote their undivided attention to the Lord and His work! Encourage them to find a place in the local church to serve. There is fulfillment in serving the Lord that can fill life’s voids better than anything you might feel necessary to suggest.
And, to my single friends:
Say it with me, “I am not just half. I am whole!” It is important that we break the cultural narrative that suggests that your “other half” will bring completion to you or your life. If that is what we believe to be true, then we are setting up our future spouses for failure by expecting them to provide something that only the Father can supply.
Mark 10:7-8 says, “’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”
Jesus doesn’t say, “and the two halves will make a whole.” He says, “the TWO will become ONE” – TWO people, ONE covenant.
One without the other is still whole. Not just half!