An Interview with Singles Author Leigh McLeroy
- 2004 4 Apr
Being single—especially as a Christian—brings with it a whole spectrum of unique challenges. It can be nearly impossible to enjoy the good parts of being single when there are so many explicit and implicit pressures to marry and raise a family. In Moments for Singles, Leigh McLeroy offers other singles longing to be married real hope and encouragement. Sincere and heartfelt, these devotionals explore issues of forgiveness and healing, and challenge singles to live vulnerable, purposeful lives before God.
McLeroy is a contributing writer of seven books, including Romancing the Home and Everywhere I Go. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she worked as an on-camera news reporter before venturing into advertising and marketing. McLeroy speaks to groups across the country and has led many church and home Bible studies for singles. A self-described “not-yet-married-but-still-quite-hopeful” person, she makes her home in Houston. Check out our interview.
Crosswalk: What has been your experience being single?
McLeroy: It's been glorious and awful. Easy and hard. There have been challenging seasons, and seasons of plenty. I've experienced an awful lot of joy, and my fair share of heartbreak. And God has been present and obviously and not-so-obviously at work in all of it.
Crosswalk: What are the feelings you struggle with most as a single person?
McLeroy: Just the basic desire for another person's physical presence is huge sometimes. And for the perspective and accountability and balance of having one person who knows you better than any other person alive. I adore children, too, and would love to have my own, which for me, singleness precludes.
Crosswalk: Why is it hard to be a single Christian who wants to be married?
McLeroy: As opposed to someone who isn't following Christ and wants to be married? Because if you choose to obey God, your options narrow. And if you choose to follow hard after Him, they narrow even more. But the upside to that is, you have the potential to experience something very few do: a marriage that not only deeply satisfies you and your mate - but one that brings God glory and blesses others, as well.
Crosswalk: What is the "ring game"?
McLeroy: It's the game that gets you looking at other people's left hands and wondering, "Why them and not me? Don't I deserve the prize?" Too many of us simply want an outward token that says to the world "I'm accepted and loved. I belong," whether that's true or not.
Crosswalk: Lots of single people try to look for reasons for why they aren't married-maybe some flaw they have that is keeping them from their dream of marriage and family. What are some of the lies Satan tells them to keep them discouraged?
McLeroy: "You're not _____ enough. You're too _________. You blew your only chance. Your sin disqualifies you." Satan's an expert liar. He's had so much practice!
Crosswalk: When you've been single for a long time, it's hard not to feel like the kid who was always picked last for teams in gym class. Is there something less desirable about those who are single?
McLeroy: My bright, compelling, invested and attractive single friends of both sexes convince me that the answer is "no." I don't know why some of us are "still" single. But then, I can't see why some of the married people i know are married! Elizabeth Elliot said, "God is God. I dethrone him in my heart when I demand that He act in ways that satisfy my idea of justice." That works for me.
Crosswalk: What are some things singles may miss out on by not enjoying this unique season in their lives?
McLeroy: So many things! Service. Devotion. Travel. Learning. Diving deep into our longings to see what treasure might be buried there. And the thrilling experience of dependence on God without a buffer or a "go-between."
Crosswalk: You say that you know many singles who seem to be "on strike" until God delivers what they want. What repercussions may this have on them?
McLeroy: When we do this we're simply not practicing the disciplines life will certainly require of us - and we're not learning to savor the pleasures that are ours today. Living for "someday" is just no way to live. I don't think the abundant life Jesus said we're made for is "someday" life. It's here. Now.
Crosswalk: What kinds of masks do singles tend to wear? How can we become more true to ourselves and vulnerable with others?
McLeroy: The two biggest ones I see most often are a kind of hyper "busy-ness" that seems to imply importance, and tough invincibility that says "you can't hurt me." And for women, there's the tendency to be a kind of chameleon who conforms to those around her to gain acceptance and love. It's scary to fully and openly be the person god made you to be. But if you're not, and you find love, eventually you'll have to come clean, or distrust it forever.
Crosswalk: Should singles suppress their desire to be married?
McLeroy: Absolutely not! Nor should we be ruled by it.
Crosswalk: How does one hold onto hope while waiting for a mate, especially when friends are getting married?
McLeroy: First, the fact that friends are marrying has absolutely no impact whatsoever on God's ability to bless you or me with a mate. It's not a "one for them, one less for me" kind of deal. And you hold on to hope by hoping. I've seen God do too much in my life to quit hoping for the partner my heart desires. My hope is only unreasonable when it's separated from the one I place my hope in. He's a very good God, so I'm asking him for good things and believing He will give them.
Crosswalk: What are the most common expectations single people have of marriage?
McLeroy: That it will "fix" whatever you believe is wrong with your life now. That it's "happiness insurance." That marriage will be the last thing you'll ever long for.
Crosswalk: How do you recommend people get involved in a community? How can that change your outlook on life?
McLeroy: Don't wait to be invited. Invite. Use your gifts. If you have the gift of encouragement, encourage others. If you have the gift of hospitality, open your home. If you have the gift of discernment or wisdom or teaching, find a place to put those gifts to use for God's glory and the benefit of others. The saddest single people I know are those who have no place to offer themselves, and no accountability.
Crosswalk: How can singles relate well with their married friends? What are things not to do?
McLeroy: A married friend of mine asked the other day if I knew any men whose relationship with God made me envious (in a good way.) I listed several men we both knew, including her husband. She giggled and said "He's mine!" I said "I know - and I'm so glad he is." But then she said, "I've never seen it quite that way. I'm going to have to pay more attention!" I think one of the things we can do with and for our married friends is appreciate marriage - and appreciate their marriages and mates - in their presence.
Just as much as the grass can seem greener for singles, it can seem greener for married couples, too. It's good for them to hear that the thing they have is valued and even a little enviable! What not to do? Run down one partner in the other's presence. (or allow them to do so in ours.) Treat either as less than the "one flesh" that they are.
Crosswalk: Do you feel that single men and women are able to have friendships with the opposite sex? Are they worth the potential awkwardness?
McLeroy: Yes, with this one qualifier: I believe a man and a woman can be friends as long as neither of them wants to be anything more. When the desire exists on the part of one or the other to take the relationship further, usually the friendship is lost, unless of course they marry one another! Are male/female friendships worth the potential awkwardness? Yes. My life has been so enriched by a handful of steadfast male friends that I couldn't possibly say it isn't worth the trouble!
Crosswalk: What one piece of advice or encouragement would you give other single people reading this interview?
McLeroy: Cultivate a relationship with God in Christ that is vital and rich and growing. He really is at the center of all things, and in Him all things hold together. A life without Him, married or single, is only a shadow of life...and not real life at all.