Rachelle Crowe resides in Kansas City, Missouri along with her husband Mark where she serves as the Director of Community Development at Redeemer Fellowship in Kansas City.
If you had told me at 23 that in ten years I would still be single, I would have cried. I mean bawled, maybe even thrown a chair across the room in the direction of a happy couple holding hands. But a long period of singleness is exactly what God had for me, and I can honestly say now that I am thankful. If I told you those were easy years though, I would be blatantly lying.
Feeling divided by our seasons of life
In my single years many people told me to wait, be patient, be content, and to not be “too picky.” I felt placed in a side category – the less than category – countless times because of my marital status. I felt like some of the married people I knew had forgotten what it was like to be single and therefore, how to love a single person well. Taking my cues from the attitudes of those around me, I questioned myself. What’s wrong with me? Am I too much? Not enough? Has Jesus forgotten about me? I went through cold seasons of bitterness and anger with God.
But then God did a work in me that I actually never believed He would; He slowly turned my heart towards a place of joy and tenderness. I remember thinking to myself one day that if it wasn’t in my cards to be married, I would continue to serve and give God my life while waiting. If I never married, I would be okay. I just knew it. God had changed my heart about my singleness to believe that even through continued yearning, He would be enough.
Serving each other through our seasons of life . . .
In the years that God was changing my heart, I realized how valuable community is and became determined to not to be limited in it by my singleness. Instead, I would use my singleness to serve others. With my mom friends, I might come over and fold laundry during nap time and chat about what’s going on, or whisk her away for a drink after bedtime. Or sometimes it was hosting a ladies night at my place with my girlfriends, or just being present in my community. They did the same for me. If I was having a bad day, there might be flowers, and invitation for dinner, or someone paying for my car to get fixed. Gosh, don’t we all need each other in spite of our life stage? But so often we forget that. So often I forget that. I learned so much from being in friendships with all different kinds of people who weren’t necessarily like me.
I often wonder how much we miss out on because we are so stuck inside of own closed-off worlds, polite lines drawn, and judgmental attitudes fixed towards one another. Instead, how can we build each other up like 1 Thessalonians 5:11 talks about?
. . . even as our seasons change.
This past year, at 35, I did get married (insert shocked face). I am still alarmed when I wake up in bed with someone next to me. But, please hear me – I didn’t “arrive” when I got married. Don’t believe that lie: God is never finished with us even when a desire is fulfilled. Marriage has been a joy and I’ve loved it, but it didn’t complete me. Instead, it compliments me.
Friendships don’t have to end when a marriage begins. It is not an either or with our relationships before and after marriage, but a both, AND.
Something my husband and I valued separately, and now value as a couple is to continue to invest in people – particularly single people. On Valentine’s Day this year we asked some friends of ours who weren’t doing the whole cupid deal to come over. We hung out in our living room instead of doing the typical valentine’s date thing that had alienated me so many times in the years past. Having intentional relationships with people who are struggling in their singleness and inviting them to be a part of our lives is so small and yet gigantic to those living that tiresome struggle. Sometimes that means me asking what they need, or how they are doing apart from primarily asking if they are dating someone.
We all need each other
My encouragement to married and single people. Married friends, invite single friends over for dinner, have a ladies night. Let them know they are a part of your family by inviting them over into your mundane. Single people, what does it look like for you to pursue friendships with married people, friends who are dating, engaged, friends with children? So many people did that for us and we will continue to do this with others. After all, didn’t Jesus do that for us? Didn’t he adopt us into his family when we were strangers? (Galatians 4:5). Single people could feel like strangers because their life is different than yours. It’s ok to be different from one another, but we shouldn’t let our differences hinder our friendships. Differences are amazing in the body of Christ and we can celebrate them, not put up imaginary walls between one another.
So I challenge you — how many different kinds of friendships do you have in your life? Do you have people who are single who are your friends — truly your friend? Single people, how can you use your singleness as a gift, not a barrier? If you are dating, how have you invited your friends to be a part of your relationship or are you closing your community off when you need them most? How can we embrace where God has us and allowing him to be glorified in every season of our lives and extend grace? Even in the difficult ones? How can we all be a part of the body together in the ways that God has created us (1 Corinthians 12)? I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – we all need each other.