A Seat at the Table: A Letter to my Single Friend

Dear Friend,

I see you.

I see you coming into church on Sunday morning; you wade through the foyer packed with moms, dads, and little children running around. You steel your spine as your weekly battle with discontentment rears its ugly head right there at the threshold of the church. I am glad you came. I want you to hear the old words of the hymns, to sing with your brothers and sisters, and hear the Gospel preached to your soul again. It’s OK if you cry. I cry at church, too. Please don’t sit by yourself. You always have a spot in my pew. Let the sound of the congregation’s singing wash over you and remind you that you have a spot at the best table of all.

I see you extending yourself in hospitality. You invite people into your life and your home regularly. Even when it’s awkward, even when it is hard, you are outward-facing, humbly promoting love and togetherness. You think creatively about how to pull in the outsider. You do not pursue relationships for the sake of finding a spouse; you pursue people because God pursued you. You set an example for the self-involved ones.

I see you battling for sexual purity in a complex world that attaches no eternal weight to that struggle. The world wants you to give up, to give in, to seek fulfillment in casual attachments. The media builds up sexual bonds as the end-all, be-all, and then invites you to pursue them as though they are nothing but a casual conversation. I see your tears as you go to bed alone and wrestle with your thoughts.

I see you taking a risk. Your friends wanted to set you up; you are appreciative of their care in that way, so you went. You spent extra time getting ready, all the while telling yourself that he or she should judge you on your heart, not your appearance. You texted a couple friends to ask them to pray and check in. You navigated the introduction and waded through the awkward small talk. You put yourself out there in the most vulnerable way, emotionally speaking. You thought it went well. Then there’s no follow-up; there’s “I just didn’t see them in that way.” And you have to collect yourself again. You’re perpetually the friend, you’re not spouse material.

Scripture tells us that being single is a unique blessing, as marriage is a blessing; I am sorry for the ways that we as a culture have misrepresented, or at least underrepresented, that. I am sorry for Pinterest and the wedding industry feeding your discontentment. They’re just out to make money, you know. After people get married, these voices immediately switch to making us feel bad about our house or our children or our clothing choices or our children’s clothing choices….

I think we have underestimated you. I want you to feel the freedom to pursue creativity in ministry in all the ways that having a family does not allow. Please buy the good knives for your kitchen. Set yourself up with things that help you minister well. Get yourself installed in a place where you feel at home, whether that be a house with roommates or an apartment by yourself. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in a community where you can minister, don’t miss out. Please show up for it.

We’re really happy you’re here. We want to see you and know you as Christ sees you and knows you. Unity is different from uniformity. You have something to bring to the table. You aren’t children waiting to grow up and get married; you are a part of our body now, with gifts to use for the glory of God and the betterment of the rest of us. We are better because you’re along with us.

We love you, and we’re thankful for you.

Kelly