Recently, while touring the UK, I kept hearing the phrase “on your own” when referring to anyone who is making their way through life solo. What I liked about the term is the word “single” was not a part of it. It simply describes anyone who is, well, on their own.
They could be alone for many reasons, including:
• where they live
• they are without family
• they are without friends
• they don’t have specific financial support
• they’re lacking emotional support
• what they believe spiritually
• the type of work they do or a lack of employment
• various health issues such as having to fend for themselves or get to the doctor on their own, etc.
• how they make decisions
• their responsibility in taking care of their home, car, etc.
You see, while singleness is often described as those who are not married, referring to our widowed, divorced, young adult and single again friends, it can also mean married adults who have been abandoned by their spouse. This abandonment can be physical, emotional and/or spiritual (Single on Sunday), but it could also be because of distance due to family obligations, work schedule or the realities of military life, for instance.
This doesn’t mean they’re single in the sense of dating or available to date, but it does mean they’re alone and, in that respect, on their own. Likewise, you could be unmarried but still live with someone (whether it’s a sexual relationship or not) who is your roommate, friend or a family member. In that instance, some of the “on your own” terms wouldn't apply.
So, upon hearing this phrase, I decided to start calling anyone on their own an “OYO.” Hopefully, naming it will help us understand the need to reach anyone who has no one, who lacks support, or who is on their own for whatever reason.
God designed most of us for marriage, but He designed all of us for community. And while not everyone will marry, we can all belong. This belonging helps us deal with being alone. For when we have the Lord, we are never truly on our own.
2 Cor. 5:17, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"
But what does that look like in real life? What does having community mean? What does belonging look like?
When I was a kid, I was horrible at sports. I was always the last one picked for kickball. I never felt that I fit in or belonged. I remember hearing the kids smirk and say, OK, who gets Kris? Like I had some type of disease. That horrible feeling of rejection—of not being included—stayed with me for years until I found things I did do well.
So, should we be like some of the parents today and give out participations awards to help each other feel included? No, I don’t think that is what community is about. I think community is about 1- knowing we all belong to Christ and that He is enough and 2- we need to find a place in our work, church and home where we belong. Belonging based on our gifts and talents in the Lord, and this belonging will create the community that we need.
Who helps in belonging?
Romans 12:5, "…so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."
Having friends who really care about you is critical. Friends that are willing to be honest when you are headed in the wrong direction, friends that hold you accountable and vice versa. Friends that are there to support, encourage and help you.
At the end of Jesus’ life, he turned to his now widowed mother and told her that John, his best friend was now her son and Mary would be his mother (John 19:26-27). Jesus didn’t ask his siblings but his best friend. Why? Because for some of us, our friends are closer than family. For some, it is our friends who are our community and who help us belong.
Community also means a supportive family—a family that accepts your singleness and stops asking you if you have met anyone yet. Marriage is not the solution to loneliness. A family that values you where you are and how you are, is a family that involves you and helps you belong.
Community includes the church. A church that understands community remembers who you are, and they follow-up when you have missed a Sunday. They value singles equally with married adults and families. They include you in decisions about the church, and they live out what they preach from the pulpit.
A good community makes you feel connected, like an extended family. You know you are needed and belong, and you can’t wait to come back.
Galatians 6:10,Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers
Community is traditionally thought about in our small groups and ministry teams. When we are put into smaller groups for leadership, serving, working, learning, etc. we have opportunities to grow. Jesus’ community of disciples shows us how small groups can work.
In small groups, we are more likely to share about our lives, feel included, and learn. People notice when you are missing, sick, struggling, having family and or financial issues, etc. You are also more likely to have accountability.
Today, it’s a big deal in most churches to get you into small groups. They know just coming to Church on Sundays is not enough to foster personal growth. However, for single adults, we don’t normally go to someone’s home we don’t know. We need a large gathering before we go to a smaller gathering. For singles, we need to know we belong first from the pulpit. This may be the account of why we see singles ministry and so many singles struggling in our country.
While it would be comfortable if all Christians could work in ministry or be around other Christians all the time, most work is in the secular world. Being part of the community at your secular work is a good thing, and it allows you to love others as Jesus did. Live by example in this type of community; take notice of your actions and words and what kind of message they are sending.
John 8:47, "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reasons you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
In the beginning, God created community with Adam, one-on-one. He then created Eve and brought her to Adam for another kind of community. They had a family and that created yet another type of community and so forth. Community starts with God.
So, who is your community? What does it look like? Is it helping you grow in your relationship with Christ and with others? If not, I would encourage you to seek a place where you do belong. When you have this place, whether you get married or not, will not be your focus.
Kris Swiatocho, the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries and FromHisHands.com Ministries. Kris has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 25 years. An accomplished trainer and mentor, Kris has a heart to reach and grow leaders so they will in turn reach and grow others. She is also the author of four books.
Image courtesy: Pexels.com
Publication date: August