Why Singles Need to Stay Connected to Others ... and to God
- Thursday, October 20, 2005
Fours years ago my paternal grandmother became mentally ill at the age of 79. Based on her diagnosis of dementia with paranoia, we knew that she must have been suffering a long time. I mean no one just gets mentally sick, right?
I guess you could have something tragic happen to you that could cause some mental illness, however we knew with her diagnosis that this wasn't the case. Well as soon as I heard the news, I immediately took a flight to Connecticut to see her. One of my brothers would fly in as well. She had been found in her neighborhood, wandering, knocking on doors, the nurse said. "She didn't seem to know where she was." I asked, "Can we see her?" "Sure," she said. "She appears to be better now, calm and even happy."
What I didn't know at the time was that I would end up being her custodian. I would be the one to liquidate her home, her things and her life. I would be the one (with the help of my siblings) who would decide her future. What would that future be?
She wasn't well enough to go home but was too well to stay in the hospital. Over the next several months I set off to find her a new home. As her mental health continued to decline, she was placed back and forth from the mental hospital to an assisted living residence, until one day she was so mentally ill that a nursing home was her last home. During the course of this time, I sold her home furnishings and clothes and worked with her lawyer to liquidate her estate to pay for her care. It took it all and then some -- everything she had of value. It was during this agonizing and stressful time that I found out something incredible: I had family, lots of family, on my father's side.
You see, my biological father left our family when I was 13 and never came back. He was the only child of my grandparents. My grandfather died over 15 years ago. All I had left on my father's side, I thought, was my grandmother. My father came to America when he was 15 years old. His family left siblings and parents and cousins in Poland during the war. I found out that I had tons of cousins. I eventually met them this past March for the first time. It was then that I found out something so incredible, so miraculous, that it also become a spiritual marker in my life.
Connecting to Family
When I returned from my trip to Poland, I realized why the trip was so important. I needed to connect. I needed to have a sense of being a part of something bigger than myself. I needed to know my roots. I needed to know where I came from. I needed my family. What I didn't realize at the time was this entire experience was similar to the need to connect as single adults to each other and to God.
Many years ago when I was a very young Christian, I was still struggling with being in the world. The church I was attending did not have single adults my own age. Although, I had recommitted my life to Christ and wanted to serve him, I just didn't know what that meant. Then one day while I was out on a sales call, I met another young single adult who just happened to be a Christian. We started a friendship and she invited me to S.O.L.O (Singles Offering Life to Others). I had no idea what that was but was willing to give it a try.
SOLO was a huge single adult ministry out of a local Methodist church. At the time there were around 500 single adults ranging from 23 to 35 years old. There was also a smaller version called SOLO II for 35 years old and up. SOLO met weekly on Thursday nights and had music, a message and fellowship. There were a ton of opportunities to get plugged in, everything from greeting to hospitality, from the band to leadership, to missions, prayer and Bible study. There was even training so that you could grow into a position versus just being dropped in.
I went to SOLO fairly regularly over the next several months. However, I never got involved. I would show up, hang with new friends, and attend some of the social functions but nothing else. Then the day came, the day that would change my life. I was asked a very important question. "Hey Kris, you know we are working on a huge singles conference called "Single Light?" "We need someone to make the banner, would you be interested?" I was like "huh?" "Sure, I guess."
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