Disclaimer: After talking with friends one night about those of us who seem to be perpetually single within the Church, I started writing a letter to encourage the single men in my community. However, I quickly realized I couldn’t challenge them before I admonish women. I and my fellow sisters have most certainly contributed to this problem. Yes, I am calling it a problem. Our singleness isn’t a punishment or a flaw, but God Himself said it was not good for man to be alone. Adam being the only human was a problem in the Garden of Eden and God offered a solution by creating women. But for some reason, we haven’t wanted to work together to be that solution.
I wrote this with a specific community in mind: my own. But being a part of multiple churches throughout the years, I think it could apply across the board to the entire Body of Christ, or at least to those who are single and don’t want to be. It’s time we help each other out. It’s time we talk about these things, men and women, together. No more us and them. There are millions of individuals with millions of perspectives, experiences, expectations, and preferences. I can only write from what I know and observe. But I hope it helps to some degree and will at least open up dialogue.
I aim to write this with love and grace. Sometimes love is tough, and I wonder if that is the kind of discipleship we need in this area. Please know, my goal is not to hurt or judge, but rather to call us all higher. I want us all to win in relationships.
Ladies, can we talk about the men: how we see them, relate to them, and date them? We’re waiting for the guys to “get it together,” when all the while we’re missing the mark in some areas, placing the blame on men instead of improving upon our own mistakes. Most of us don’t want to be single forever and I believe we can do a few things to help the guys and each other out as we walk through this season. This isn’t an exhaustive list. I don’t claim to have all the answers. These are simply a few areas I see where we can improve how we interact with men and love them well.
Embrace the process.
There is a beautiful process to this relationship thing, but as women, we always try to rush it. We like the idea of the finish line. So much of this has been the stigma placed on singleness within the Church. We’re treated as flawed somehow because we haven’t found our soulmates yet and aren’t the baby-making machines we should be. We think marriage is the end-all-be-all measure of success, so we often get ahead of ourselves. But we first have to learn how to cultivate friendships with men. Before they are potential husbands, before we do the left-hand ring check (and you know you do, don’t lie), remember: these men are first our brothers.
Instead of pouncing on them, could we encourage them? It is entirely possible to make ourselves available to the men in our lives without throwing ourselves at them. I mean this with all the love in the world: please stop being so desperate. You’re making us all look a little crazy. And you’re scaring the poor guys who think very linearly. While you’re already picturing him at the end of the aisle on your wedding day, he might be thinking, “This girl is cool.” That’s it. Homeboy isn’t seeing you as his wife yet. He needs to get to know you first. So slow down, sister. Let the men set the pace. If we want leaders, then we have to at least give them a chance to step up to the plate.
Even if/when you KNOW he’s “the one,” you can’t skip steps. Well, you can, but you’ll trip. Even when you both see a future with the other right from the beginning, still take the time to get to know that person before declaring your love. Find out what God loves about that person. Draw boundaries so your love for each other is safe. Hold each other with open hands, because if you want God to rule supreme in your life and your relationships, He needs to have control. When you hold on too tight, you squeeze the life out of anything beautiful and growing. God can still expedite the process. But let HIM do that, don’t try to force it yourself. God won’t ever move within your timeframe. He’s too good for that.
“The One” is actually a myth.
You haven’t missed out on the only man in the world for you. He didn’t marry someone else and leave you a lonely spinster. You don’t have to search high and low to seek him out. This is not a scavenger hunt. God will put men in your path who you can choose to love. In the same way He allows us to choose to love Him, we are given the free will to love and choose others. Love is a choice. That man you have your eye on also has the gift of free will and deserves to choose who he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Don’t pray that you get him, pray that he is filled with wisdom and discernment to choose well, even if it’s not you.
Clean hands. Pure hearts. Can’t lose.
When we talk purity in the church, we are almost exclusively talking sexual purity, but purity is way more than just a sexual thing. Purity is a heart posture, not a behavioral pattern. It speaks to the motivation of the heart. Why do you dress the way you do? Why do you flirt the way you do? How do you speak? Why do you choose the friends you have? Why do you date the guys you do? We have to ask ourselves these questions and be really honest about our answers. Ask Holy Spirit to reveal the motives of your heart. God’s word says even we don’t know them fully.
All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.PROVERBS 16:2
When our heart’s motives are pure, our behavior will reflect that. A lot of Christian women won’t sleep with their boyfriends, but regularly manipulate men and cause so much pain and heartache in the process. A truly pure heart is motivated by a desire to honor God and others. Are you being selfish or are you being a servant? Are you seeking to get a need met or are you trying to love someone selflessly and honor them? We are not our own. Honor yourself. Honor the Lord. Honor your future husband with the way you carry yourself today.
Seek and speak what you want to see.
We see what we look for. I used to be the girl who said things like, “all the good ones are taken.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. I look around my church now and see incredible single men serving and worshiping and chasing Jesus with all they have.
Now I’m so grieved when I hear women criticize and complain about the men around them. Honestly, I wouldn’t date us either if that’s how we are going to talk about them. Who would want to be with someone who looks down on them and doesn’t think they’re good enough?
If all you’re looking for is what is wrong with every man, and you believe all the good ones are taken, you will most certainly see that around you. You will see all the flaws. You will believe that only a perfect man is husband material. I would bet if you asked the wives around you, they would be able to list the flaws in their husbands you perceive to be so perfect. But the good wives will honor their husbands and speak life.
Look at the men in your community with fresh and renewed eyes. Look for their good qualities and you will find them. Speak what you want to see. Prophesy over the men in your community. Encourage them. Pray for them.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.EPHESIANS 4:29-32
This leads me into my next point:
Don’t gossip about your exes.
The men in our communities hear us talk about them. They hear the trash-talking. They see how reputations have been destroyed. Some men can’t date within their circles anymore because all the women around them know all the gory details of their past relationships – but only from one perspective.
Not every relationship is going to last. If you date well, you can break up well. Yes, you will still need to heal, but your healing process should never include telling your community about the perceived or actual toxicity of another person. More than likely, at least on some level, you are hurting and afraid to see him with someone else. But even if he was the most terrible, it’s not your job to be the discerning voice warning other women to steer clear. The way you speak of your exes is more revealing of your character than his. Choose your words wisely.
I know it’s hard to watch others get what you’ve only dreamed of. The love and romance, the sparkly diamond rings and gorgeous wedding gowns, the family and sense of belonging. But genuinely celebrating others in their relationships will rob you of nothing except your own pride and bitterness. Throw jealousy away. If God can do it for them, He can do it for you. Let their fulfilled promises fuel your faith.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.Romans 12:15
Build a godly community.
Don’t only surround yourself with people in the same stage of life as you. Find people who are steps ahead of you in all areas. Find married couples that can speak life over you and offer advice as you seek relationship. Find those who are great with managing finances, building solid relationships, pursuing emotional health, and surrendered to the Lord. Invite those people into the process.
And also bring people into your circles who are a few steps behind you. There’s something about pouring into others that unlocks fresh revelation for your own life. Serving and mentoring others will keep us from selfishness and pride.
Know your purpose.
We have a purpose beyond marriage and motherhood. We have assignments here on earth that only we can do. We need to know who God created us to be so our husbands recognize us as their helpers. If we know and understand how to use our gifts, we will know exactly how we can come alongside our husband to build our corner of the Kingdom together. Your marriage is not exclusively for your happiness and fulfillment. Building God’s Kingdom is why He puts us in relationship together.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Chase after your God-given dreams with all you’ve got while you’re single. Keep an eye out for who is running along side you while you serve God’s people. Your man will find you when you know who and Who’s you are.
Again, this isn’t an exhaustive list. I’m sure I’ll think of a few more points as soon as I hit “publish.” In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts. Guys, what are some ways we as women can help you out? Ladies, take a look inward. What are some things you could do better? I want us to actually talk about this stuff so we can learn and grow. Whatchu got?
*Part 2: To the men, coming soon!*