Why do you think many are choosing to stay single?

I think single young adults are idealistic about what it means to be married. We are looking for someone to complete us; we are looking for someone who has all of their act together; we are looking more at superficial qualities. This is problematic because that’s not what marriage truly is about. So we are searching, but we can’t find what we want because of our unrealistic expectations.

What do you think are some challenges for Christians who are struggling with being single?

I think the struggle for Christians comes in sexual ethics. We are aware of what God says about relationships but we tend to compromise. This can be in the form of instant gratification or creating our own love story because we think that no one else will take care or help us in this. There is a lot of worldly behaviour in that sense, because we don’t look confidently towards the future knowing that it doesn’t have to be wrapped up with this other person or that God is in control. We don’t live our faith out in this area of our lives.

What message do you have for Christians struggling in this area?

Don’t just brush your pain aside. Don’t just say, oh it’s okay, it’ll all work out, just trust God, go on another mission trip, be amazing right where you are. That’s not going to help. Instead, spend some time grieving over what you need to grieve.

I am past my 40th birthday, and still single. I had to realise I will never be married when I’m still in my 20s. I will never have my dad at my wedding because he died when I was 30. Those are losses that I experienced and will never get back. I will also never have the story of my peers who are married with kids now, or are driving their kids around to school and going to soccer practice and all of that. That’s just not my story.

So we have to grieve the very real losses as life marches on and accept the reality that comes with it.

I also had to realise for myself that even though He had given my friends their husbands, God was not denying me one. He wasn’t saying, oh Lisa, I have enough husbands for your friends, but I just can’t seem to find someone for you. God is perfectly capable of getting me married anytime that He wants to, so I have to trust and believe in Him that for some reason, it is either not on His timetable or His plan right now.

How should frustrated single Christians reconcile their bitterness with God?

I love how God says in the Psalms to pour out our complaint to Him (Psalm 142:2). Don’t pour out your complaint to the guy you wish was asking you out. That’s just going to make you look crazy. Go and pour it out to God because not only can God handle it, but He also cares.

Another piece of advice I would give is to look beyond what you don’t have and see what God has given instead. I wrote a blog post a while back titled “Thanks For Nothing” because we often say that phrase, but it was really me reflecting on the many things I had been denied and how they ultimately turned out for my good. For example, I will probably not be working with Boundless at this point were I married and had kids.

I think this is a great exercise to discover how there are still a lot of great things about your life, and how God is still good to you.

How do you think Churches can serve singles better?

Simply by being in their lives. So often people in the Church are like, well, we’re just going to leave these singles over there because clearly they’re too cool for us, they’ve got these exciting lives and careers and they’re just having fun. But I think we need to start to understand each other’s stories – in the good and tough parts – and journey through it as a Church, as a community.

I would also encourage the Church to be in the business of good matchmaking. I don’t mean in a creepy “let me set you up with everyone” way, but we need to provide spaces for single adults to get to know one another and build relationships.

Is there anything churches can do less of when it comes to singles?

I think the Church needs to minimise segmenting and segregating singles from the married. Married folks, and the Church in general, are so fearful of treating singles as second-class citizens saying, “Oh we don’t want to make them feel bad so we’re not gonna say anything about singleness or marriage at all.”
I disagree with that. I mean, are you going to stop talking about parenting because of some of the women in your church are infertile?

Everyone has their own struggles, but everyone struggles. So I would say just put it out there, be honest about our challenges and fears and move forward. You never know how your story from your dating life could really have an impact on others.

I would also encourage the Church to be in the business of good matchmaking. I don’t mean in a creepy “let me set you up with everyone” way, but we need to provide spaces for single adults to get to know one another and build relationships.

How do I respond, as a single person, to the married with love and grace?

Never assume that their motives are bad. Most married folks are trying to be helpful. If they’ve found a great match, they would naturally want the same for their friends.

I also think we need to be okay with being helped along if we truly want to get married. I always say to the singles, “Who better to help you find a great match than the people who know and love you best?” I have trusted friends who are aware of my calling in life and my preferred type. So I told them to go ahead and keep their eyes open and that I would love it if they could introduce me to potential partners.

But if your friend’s behaviour is continuously hurtful, sometimes a frank and honest conversation is needed. All of them were single once, and they need to remember to put themselves in your shoes. So, yes, our response should be to offer grace while being honest about your frustrations.