For those of us who have endured being advised and prayed over, much like people diagnosed with things like cancer, we know what it’s like to feel completely out of place and not quite understood, respected or cared for in the church because we are (whisper) single. (eep!)
I was talking with a friend the other day about how I feel compelled to EDUCATE married people from time to time about how to interact with singles, like it’s a class you take before going to another country or to a hospital ward or to a petting zoo. Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact!!!
So here are some helpful tips on how to support and pray for your single friends. I highly encourage you to print this, laminate it, hang it up wherever you do most of your praying, and or carry it around with you so your single friends can take it and smack you around with it. Bless your heart.
1. Pray often for your single friends. Not that they find a spouse, but that they find their sufficiency, their all in all, their life’s purpose and pursuit, in God their Savior. And pray this for yourself while you’re at it.
2. Invite your single friend for coffee or lunch. Do not mention anything about dating the entire time. And when that ten minutes is up, don’t offer to pay for their coffee because they are on a single income. In fact, let them pay for you.
3. Give your single friend helpful advice like how to get rid of static in her hair. Not how to do her hair or places to hang out to find single men. Don’t tell stories of your other single friend who just found her match on eharmony. Under no circumstances is this helpful.
4. If you were married at any age before 30, shut up. I mean that in the nicest way possible, but I do mean it.
5. Pray for your single friends to be open to life’s challenges and to accept their responsibility in their life choices, seeing clearly the areas they need to work on and give up to Christ. But for Christ’s sake, do NOT point these areas out to them unless of course you understand that’s an invitation for them to point your areas out to you.
6. Find ways to give credit to those who have excelled in their careers or serve their communities well or look for opportunities to help others at great sacrifice of their time, effort and money. They could have been busy dating but they chose to focus their time on something other than their loneliness. And they probably had a lot of fun doing it.
7. Put singles’ needs before families’ needs in your church. Wait what? Yeah, you read that right. Don’t ALWAYS do things so that everyone can get their kids in bed or feed them on time. Single people have schedules too and are asked far more often than others to adjust, and willingly, frequently do so. We know full well the world doesn’t revolve around us. Everyone else needs to learn that too.
8. Only under great duress should you ask about a new person hanging around your single friend. If she is dating him and is excited about him, you’ll know. Believe me, you will all know, even when she isn’t the one who told you.
9. Newly single/divorced people do not have the plague and divorce is not contagious. They need your friendship and true support and encouragement like never before. All of the above apply maybe twice as much. Except maybe #4 if that applies to them and now they are eating their words to us single people. This is not the time to remind them of that.
10. Most of all, love them. Pray that God will show you ways to love them in real tangible HELPFUL ways. Don’t put your own values and interests on them. No two paths are ever the same. Pray that your friends will truly feel loved and accepted and valuable to the community and to your church family, and look for ways to make sure they do.
Editor’s Note: I am adding #11 as recommended by my then-fiance, now husband…
11. Appropriately touch your single friends.
A single person can go through an entire day without one hug, or as much as a handshake. You end up craving it and often times it can turn into an unhealthy seeking of physical affection. Be conscious of those who respond well to a hand on their arm while talking or a side hug to say hello or bye. Of course being careful to note those who seem to shy away from it, but for a large number of folks, it will be warmly accepted and go a long way towards feeling appreciated and worthy.