Singled Out for Him: Relating to Families
- Thursday, July 03, 2003
Those singles whose lives are characterized by chronic loneliness probably have not discovered their place in the Body of Christ. The fact is, we are not alone. We are a part of an incredible family of faith. And that family includes far more than just other singles! You and I are called to function within the broader context of the family of God.
One of my concerns about church programs designed solely for singles is the danger of isolating singles from the broader Body. I believe God intends for our lives and gifts to operate within the sphere of the whole Body-young and old, married and single. Those who interrelate only with others whose needs and interests are similar to their own are far more vulnerable to the crippling, deadly effects of selfishness.
Those of us who are single have an obligation to families within the Body of Christ. As members of the community of faith, we bear a responsibility for the lives and marriages of other believers and for their children and grandchildren. We have both an obligation and a rich opportunity to pray for and encourage and invest our lives in those families. Although you and I may not be married, when another marriage fails or another teenager rebels, we all bear the pain and share in the responsibility.
Time spent with families has been one of the most valuable influences on my life, as well as one of the most rewarding investments. Wherever I live, I seek out families to love and serve, families with whom I can grow and pray and play and worship.
I have discovered that regular involvement with families is a safeguard against selfishness. And for those who will one day be married, there is hardly any better preparation for marriage and parenting. In a family setting, we can witness firsthand the blessings of obeying God's plan for the home and the consequences of disregarding it. Nothing will rid us of unrealistic notions of marriage and parenting faster than in-depth involvement in real homes.
When singles are assimilated into families, everyone benefits. The single adult can have a strong spiritual influence on children that reinforces the training provided by their parents. Singles can meet needs of parents, such as to have time alone without the children. Families can provide friendship and encouragement to singles. Both families and singles can offer each other mutual support, counsel, accountability, and prayer.
On a practical note, I have known single men and women who would love to spend time with families and who become resentful when families don't think to reach out to them. My personal experience is that most married couples are not aware of the value of including singles in the life of their family, and therefore generally don't take the initiative to do so. So my challenge to singles is this: don't be afraid to reach out to families. Look for ways to initiate relationships with children, young people, and couples, as well as older people who are alone and in need of families.
My life is extremely busy-I travel extensively and am always up against deadlines. But, whenever possible, I make time in my schedule to go to the ball games, piano recitals, and other special events of my friends' children. I look for opportunities to jot a note of encouragement on birthdays, anniversaries, or special occasions. When I need to run an errand, I will often call a couple to see if I can pick up something at the store for them, or if one of their children would like to go along for the ride. I make the extra effort to keep up with the needs, burdens, concerns, and joys of the families that God has brought into my life.
As a result of years of conscious effort and investment, I have been blessed with "adopted" children, brothers, sisters, and parents in various places where I have lived and served. On the whole, my richest, most lasting relationships over the years have been with families. What a joy it has been to encourage and nurture many of my friends' children in their faith, and then to watch these "little ones" grow into mature men and women of God with families of their own.
Of course, the most important family that God has brought into my life is my biological family. I have been blessed to be part of a large (and growing) "clan" that currently includes six brothers and sisters, two sisters-in-law, a brother-in-law, and ten nieces and nephews under the age of 12.
Though geographically scattered and far from perfect, this extended family is a source of great joy and blessing-I love hearing a little voice on the other end of the phone saying, "Hey, Aunt Nancy!" Holidays are enriched by the laughter, chatter, and endless activity of those little ones that I affectionately call "the munchkins."
In the midst of writing this section, within a 24-hour time frame, two of my sisters and my mother called on the phone. As we updated each other on what is going on in our lives, I was reminded that my life is not a solitary one, that my story is part of a much bigger story, and that we are not complete without each other.
My life has been made fuller by the history that we share as a family-a history that includes both seasons of joy and seasons of sorrow; birthdays, weddings, and funerals; heated discussions and tender exchanges; smiles and tears.
Being a member of a family is a blessing; it is also a lot of work. As our lives take different courses, more effort is required to keep in touch. At times it can be difficult to stay engaged with certain family members, for those we love the most can also hurt us the most. We may be tempted to retreat and avoid communication, but I have found that the rewards of nurturing and persevering in those relationships far outweigh the cost of doing so.
Being a part of a family is also a tremendous responsibility. It requires a commitment to live the kind of lives that make our families thirsty for Jesus. Sometimes it means sacrificing our own schedule and agenda in order to be available to meet the needs of another. It requires a willingness to bear the burdens of others. Yet the greater the investment we are willing to make on behalf of our family, the greater will be the fruit that results.
It is no accident that you and I belong to that specific family whose name and genes we share. In His infinite wisdom, God selected precisely the combination of individuals whose strengths and weaknesses He knew would help shape us into the men and women He made us to be. We cannot selfishly cut ourselves off from our families without forfeiting a measure of God's intended blessing and fullness.
Relating to families-both my own and others'-has provided much-needed perspective, protection, and encouragement in my walk. In the process of giving myself to minister to the needs of families, I have experienced God's great ability to meet my own spiritual and emotional needs.
Excerpted from Singled Out for Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Copyright 1998 by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Used by permission of Life Action Ministries.
Since 1980 Nancy Leigh DeMoss has served as the Director of Publications and Women's Ministries and as the editor of Spirit of Revival magazine, for Life Action Ministries, a revival ministry, based in Niles, Michigan. She is the author of A Place of Quiet Rest: Finding Intimacy with God Through a Daily Devotional Life, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free and A 30-Day Walk With God in the Psalms (Moody Press). Nancy also hosts Revive Our Hearts, a daily radio program for women that airs each weekday on over 200 stations nationwide. Visit reviveourhearts.com/
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