Dear married friends within the Church,
We hope that you had a pleasant Christmas and that you are enjoying the New Year so far. We pray that God would be glorified in your goals for the year ahead and that your families would be greatly blessed also.
We're writing to voice our sadness and concern about something that we have observed within the Church from time to time.
It is that there is a division between us that is greater than need be. We are not lepers (and even then..) we are your friends, so please soften your hearts as you consider our observations and their general implications. Naturally things changed when you got married. Your living situation changed, relationship dynamics changed, the season changed. This was all to be expected and rejoiced in.
God blessed you with the union between you and your spouse, to be a reflection of the love of Christ. Though you are rightly cleaved to your partner in this one flesh unity, it need not (and we believe should not) create a painful division between us.
A friendship still needed
When we were friends before you wed, obviously you had more time and opportunity to be in contact. For that time (when we laughed, cried, ate fried food, stargazed and watched Jurassic Park together) we are truly grateful. It was a beautiful season, wasn't it? An encouraging one. Perhaps that is why it was all the more difficult when we no longer heard from you or saw you (bar at Church on Sunday, before you dash off).
Forgive us if we sound dramatic, but it hurt. We feel like we've lost you. We miss you. And to be honest, we still need you.
We know that this is an exciting period for you. You're busy setting up your life together and adjusting to all of the transitions that marriage entails. Curtains and kitchen appliances mean more to you now than they did before too.
But when you have time to luncheon with the other married couples and their offspring, we are often not invited to what can feel like your exclusive shindigs. Instead of bringing a bottle of juice and chicken chips, you bring your wife along for lunch. Which is fine, you are a unit, a family now. It's a beautiful thing. We just find it a bizarre concept, that our friendship might flourish if we were to marry, thus meeting the apparent criteria to socialise. It's unfortunate really, because we need you now, while we aren't married.
Crushed by loneliness
We will all at times feel lonely, probably until we are united with Christ in Heaven. Whether we are alone, or surrounded by others but feel alone, we can lack a sense of belonging, a sense of being loved, comforted and welcomed. Not feeling like a part of the group can feel soul crushing. It can make a beautiful day a source of sadness, because you have no one to spend it with.
But by forming (what feels like) such pronounced gaps between our life stages, singleness can be so much more lonely and isolating than necessary. Some single people leave church feeling worse than when they arrived, because they feel as though they aren't being included, nurtured and taken in. Though it is not the truth, and truth overrides all feelings, they can end up feeling like worthless remnants, cast to the side, and this is something that benefits no one.
Surface level relationships can lead to such feelings of loneliness. Smiling and saying hi once a week, but not actually possessing the knowledge of what each journey currently looks like, how it is being travelled. Being uncertain of whether we're all looking to Christ in the midst of unexpected trials, or falling in to sin because our own preaching is falling on deaf ears and we lack the encouragement in Christ that we need.
Someone to walk alongside
We can go to Glassons if we want a friendly greeting and superficial chit chat. We can use social media to partake in mindless banter. But when we come to Church, we want fellowship. Real, sincere, nitty gritty, bearing in one another's burden's, walking side by side in this battlefield of spirit and flesh, fellowship. We can't enjoy such sweet fellowship though, if we aren't connecting and spending time together, being genuine with our brethren.
If we let each other in to our lives, we may see that we all have dirty laundry and dishes piled high behind closed doors. That marriage doesn't embody complete fulfilment and satisfaction and singleness doesn't equal abundant freedom and nil responsibility. That we are not the only ones struggling, but that we can struggle together, alongside each other as the brothers and sisters that we are.
Friends, do you not agree that 'Church family' needs to be more than a mere categorisation of people we know, but the body that we are attached to, a part of, with whom we gather to fight the good fight. A body that extends beyond your new house.
A beautiful opportunity
God has given us this opportunity to learn from each other, to bless each other. There is so much that we can learn from you, the married, and likewise there is much that God can teach you through us, the unmarried. This is an opportunity to minister to each other, to build each other up in the Word and wisdom that He has given us. To share in His love and rejoice in Him, to come together and pray to Him.
This here is an opportunity to grow beautiful, Godly relationships that will be sustained by grace and will outlive even the curtains.
So come let us adore Him, together for the King.
With all of our heartfelt love and appreciation,
Your single sisters and misters
Scarlett Jones resides by the seaside and loves reading, films, craft and quality time with friends and family.
Scarlett Jones previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/scarlett-jones.html