The Single Perspective: On Finding Support
So, far the Single Perspective series has been humbling, beautiful and enlightening for me. I'm so pleased to share a variety of perspectives from unmarried people with you.
Question: What are some concrete ways you seek and receive support from others, yourself, and God?
There’s that phrase “it takes a village to raise a child.” I would go further to say that it takes a village to sustain a healthy individual. I’ve been blessed to not have to seek out a lot of support. I have such a great village in my life that I don’t have to seek them out; they seek me and check on me and love me fully. It’s so great to have accountability and love from people who just want to see me succeed. It’s the same way with God. God seeks me out and pursues me and chases me. I can’t tell you how undeserving that feels. Because of God and because of my village, I have no other choice than to keep moving forward through their love and encouragement.
Khristi Adams is an Author, Pastor, Youth Advocate & Filmmaker. She is the author of the book The Misinterpreted Gospel of Singleness: a cultural critique of myths surrounding singleness in the Christian community. She is single, dating, happy, and having a great time living in Washington, D.C.
I think the number one thing I have tried to do in order to get real support from God and people around me, is to try and be totally honest with myself and them. Granted, I don't tell everyone everything, but when I ask for advice or prayer or some kind of help, I think it is from a desire to be known, and subsequently loved in spite of being imperfect and needing help. I think when I am honest with myself and can try and be known by God and my friends and family, that is when I feel their prayers and when I feel closest to them. It is, however, a constant struggle.
Another thing I do is let other people distract me. I am a very intensely introspective person, sometimes to a fault. It is easy to feel the guilt of coming out of that space to interact with what's happening around me, because I am convinced that my introspection is the most productive thing that could be happening. Well, sometimes I am wrong. I have found that just allowing someone to distract me, or to distract myself and take a break, do something fun, or just think about something else is a huge way I support myself and let others support me.
One really important way I find support is through talking things out with people I trust. It is really simple, but it helps me every time. I often find that all I need is a different perspective. Being single, I sometimes only consult myself on decisions or problems, but I don't have to. More often than not the other person doesn't even have to say anything more than "What's wrong?" I then have permission to hear from myself, out loud, what it is I am dealing with. In my experience, if you can find someone that will ask you that question, you have found a valuable friend.
Kevin Strickland is an Editor for a show on Public Television. He lives in California and enjoys trying to figure out his life. (He is also Cara’s brother).
Kaylee Francis lives in Portland, Oregon and has a degree in Bible/Theology with minors in psychology and English. She has been everything from a director at an organization that cares for women in the adult entertainment industry to an actor in a beef jerky commercial and is seeking out the next adventure. She spends every waking hour with Eärendil, her rescued papillon greyhound, while tweeting (@KayleeFran) about feminism, PTSD, and Speed Racer.
Is it just me, or does the word “support” carry a weight of obligation or instability or something? I feel uncomfortable at the thought of admitting my seeking of support, consuming bits of help and encouragement, because I can’t always give back in the same capacity, and that kills me a little bit inside. But at the end of the day, I do seek support from different sources. I do need to be supported by my community and my God and myself. Maybe it’s time to get over my “support” complex.
Over the past year, my circle of friends has narrowed, and it’s been a painful, but necessary experience. In a small group Bible study with my sisters and handful of close girlfriends I admire, I do my best to share my perspective on life and let them into a heart that often keeps walls up. My sister Trisha gave me an epic lecture about laying it all out on the table before our first meeting. It wouldn’t work otherwise, she said. I’m still learning to let those people I love fully enter my deepest, darkest messes of life. It’s an ongoing journey. But surrounding myself with a smaller group of trusted friends has meant my heart feels safer and well cared for.
The older I get, the more introverted I become. When I was younger, I would equate being alone with being lonely, so I did whatever I could to avoid being by myself. After I graduated from college and wasn’t constantly surrounded by my peers at all hours of the day and night, I became more attuned to what my body and soul needed. God clearly began to reveal to me that I needed rest. I needed quiet moments to share with only Him. I think I was reluctant at fist, but soon I began to crave time alone like I needed it to survive. And in a way, I do. I still love sharing my life with people and building relationships — no less than I did before this revelation of my increasing introversion. But now I make it a priority to be alone and be still. In those moments, I write or pray or read or listen to music, and that’s how I get my energy back.
How do I receive support from God? Oh, let me count the ways! I tend to hover around a 10 on the “hot mess” scale of life. That means I don’t have it all together / I have mostly none of it together. I’m in constant need of grace, and for as much as I ask for it, He never fails to deliver. It’s hard, though, you know? To be like “Hey, God! I’m a flailing little human who needs you to help me get out of bed in the morning!” It feels just a tad selfish. But my favorite thing about continuing to grow in my faith is that my collections of life trials and triumphs reflect His character in ways I never truly grasped through Bible stories or theologians, or tales from the older and wiser. He’s allowed me to live the whole mess out myself, knowing I’d repeatedly beg for grace and admit that I’m flailing. And in that way, I receive support from Him, flying away from open palms, knowing full well I can return to them anytime.
Tara is a graphic designer, writer, and Midwest enthusiast from Indianapolis, IN. She loves a lot of things, but mostly her dog Gretta, Young Life, and Taylor Swift. Tara writes about the beautiful, awkward, stretching, funny parts of life as a single 30-something Christian woman on her blog No Need for Mirrors.
I try to receive support from others by investing in deep, meaningful friendships with people of all genders. Assumptions can be powerful, and painful; I think a pitfall that many single young people fall into is not being communicative with their friends if romantic feelings develop, and I have been on both sides of this dynamic myself. However, I ask my friends to help provide me with concrete support in this with clear communication and honesty. Personal boundaries are one area in which I am still very much attempting to grow, and it's often difficult to know in what ways I might be transgressing some fairly important ones, making singleness more difficult without even knowing it. I ask God to help me discern the ways that I can better honor those who enter the various spheres of my life without compromising our friendships.
Ryan Kenji Kuramitsu is a Nikkei Christian writer and activist who works with groups including the Gay Christian Network and the Japanese American Citizens League to empower marginalized communities. He hopes to one day marry and have a family surrounded in love by the family of God.
Personally, I’ve developed a Rule of Life that helps me keep myself sane. It involves bi-weekly time to be alone, daily pauses to stop and be mindful, weekly meetings with a group of women who are my heart and soul, yoga, and contemplative practices such as lectio divina and centering prayer.
I don’t hesitate to send out a text for help or prayer needs to friends when I am feeling overwhelmed. Their replies and presence never fail to remind me I am not alone as I walk through life. I think it’s vital to ask for what I need, and in return be generous with what I have and what I can do. I’ve also discovered, though, that I can do a whole lot more than I thought I could and thus find myself learning new skills (often while googling random home repair questions!)
I’m continually reminded by others to be gentle with myself, which is an area I am learning to support myself in. Part of this gentleness is learning to be mindful of God with me in every moment. My greatest support often is simply stopping and breathing in that reminder of His presence.
Kate is mom to four wonderfully unique kids and friend to some of the best people you’ll ever meet. After getting divorced in August of 2014, she began two exciting new jobs – one as a legal administrative assistant and the other as a piano teacher. In her free time, she enjoys exploring faith, mystery and beautiful words, listening to Tiger’s baseball games, and engaging in autism and lgbtq advocacy. You can find her on Twitter and on her blog.
Alisha is a 32 year old Texan who transplanted to Spokane, WA in 2013. Growing up in church in the South, she was expected to marry & make babies, but God had another plan involving singleness and a career in international education bringing her to Gonzaga University. While marriage and family would be a great adventure to embark on, the roller coaster ride of singleness has brought her many joys, tears, and treasures including: travel, the love of red wine, running, food, and Taylor Swift….Did I mention she’s still available?
I've been living on my own for awhile now. At first it was very easy to isolate. I could bunker down in my apartment and not see anyone but my roommates for an entire weekend if I chose to. But that gets really lonely. I've made an intentional effort to be with people, on a schedule, throughout the week. That kind of regular connection with people creates the community we absolutely need. Thursday night movie group has become one of my absolute favorites thing. We do dinner, watch a movie, and then hang out. There's something about the consistency of the group and the intimate nature of being in someone's house, having dinner, and experiencing something in common that is totally essential to how I live. That group is part of me and I them.
John Lussier is an M.Div. student at Multnomah University studying theology and ethics. His love languages are beer, burritos, and books. He’s a good guy and loves the Lord. John sometimes goes on extended rants over on Twitter.
Thank God for my friends Rosemary and Dan. And Jane and Jerry. And Kathy and Steve. And Signe and Russell. And Mary and Bert. And for Judy and Jane and Helen and Catherine and Terri and a host of others who occasionally pull me off the grid to feed me and renew me.
I have my hiking and birding friends. I have my coffee friends. I have my Sunday afternoon organ concert friends. (Well, I did until my travel schedule became so wild.)
Like Jesus, I seek out those whose hospitality restores me. I cannot give myself a pep talk when I feel down, so I seek out those who are a graced listening presence. I can go on nature walks and drink in the beauty of creation with my own ears and eyes, but I prefer the ears and eyes of friends to help me to discover and share the beauty.
And sometimes I simply savor things alone. Watching my backyard birds as they move through the seasons. Baking bread each week, making yogurt. Cleaning my home space, making it lovely and fresh. These things bring me pleasure and joy.
Mary Sharon Moore is a Catholic author, teacher, speaker, and spiritual director, whose practice spans the United States. She works with individuals in all states of life (single, married, divorced, widowed, the “waiting and wondering”) who may be discerning a call to celibate life. For more on her work, visit marysharonmoore.com.
Please return next Monday for the next (and final) Single Perspective.