Recently a ministry acquaintance posted a very personal statement on Facebook about her life as a single adult and an affirmation of her worth and value as a person of worth created in the image of God to live and to love. Seldom do I experience such an insightful personal statement about life, being single, loneliness, and God’s mission for life.
I asked her for permission to share her statement for multiple reasons. First, I believe it speaks to the life situation of a bunch of single adult persons. Second, I believe it provides a learning opportunity for many people–beginning with me. Third, I believe the vast majority of congregations misunderstand single adults and are largely clueless how to engage in genuine, meaning ministry among single adults.
I ask that you read her statement prayerfully and see it as a holy expression of the life situation of numerous people. After reading it I hope you will rethink attitudes and actions regarding single adults in your congregation, family networks, and your community context.
Not every congregation can have an effective ministry to single adults. Yet, many more can than do. Ministry among single adults represents a major undeveloped ministry area for way too many congregations. However it is not about the programs you offer, but the in-depth relationships you have based on basic life understandings, respect, and unconditional Christian love.
I Know You. I Know Your Heart.
“Maybe it’s being single that induces a sense of loneliness (or maybe it’s just the absence of deep communication with another soul.) Single people can go through multiple days at a time without receiving a hug, without hearing words of affection, and without feeling much value. Maybe some married people can, too.
If other single people are like me, we don’t let this bother us. Some take the bull by the horns and pour themselves into their friendships. Others pour themselves into their work. That is my case.
I leave early in the mornings, give myself with honesty and, I hope, integrity to the tasks and people of my day. Then I return home to accomplish chores, go to bed and do it all over again. There is little room in that schedule to be lonely much less to be truly known.
Today, a Saturday, I went to work. It was the annual high holy day of the University where we honor individuals for their indefatigable work of studiousness. Such effort yields the conferring of multiple degree levels in a university context.
It is a day in which we say, ‘We know you, we honor what you have done, we honor who you are. Now go, and make your life matter.’ In the day-to-day functions of their future, I wonder if these people will do that. Will they make their lives matter? Will they get lost in the daily tasks of making money, of being mothers, of honoring whatever commitments they make? Will they lose sight of the fact that someone actually knows them?
In the pomp and circumstance of this day, I had a glorious conversation with a retiring professor. We talked about this life passage for him, and we talked about my life. While I will not recount his words to me, there was this phrase: ‘I know you. I know your heart.’
To be holy means to be set apart. That moment was a holy moment–a set apart moment–one that spoke of direction for my future, but one that gave me comfort and grace. It was as if I had just received a hug. It was as if someone was acknowledging my value. It was as if someone looked into my heart and challenged me to “go and make my life matter.’ It was a spiritual moment.
Every day, those words are spoken to us by God. ‘I know you. I know your heart.’ Every day, we have a chance to listen to those words or ignore them and move on with our days feeling unrecognized and devalued. I hope the days ahead will afford me the opportunity to hold to those words of my friend, Dr. Ron Bostic.
I hope that I will choose the blessing of those words to be reminded that God has a mission and a ministry for me that shatters loneliness, that beckons my life to matter, and that prompts me to follow my heart with wisdom. I hope that somewhere in this day, his words will offer you the same comfort and value. Hear them as if God has spoken them to you today, for God has said to you, ‘I know you. I know your heart.’ Amen.”
— Blythe Taylor, North Carolina, May 2015. E-mail: [email protected]