It’s February and love is in the air. Kids are sharing valentines that will be almost immediately thrown out and adults are buying overpriced flowers and chocolate. As someone who has been married for almost 10 years, Valentine’s Day comes and goes with some kisses, maybe some flowers and a quick conversation that starts with “maybe we should go on a date night this year” but quickly ends with takeout and two exhausted parents falling asleep while watching the latest Marvel instalment.
For those who live alone, Valentine’s Day is a different experience. It can be lonely. It can be frustrating. It can even cause us to question God and his promises. If God is good and loving and has amazing plans for us, why are some of us alone?
Why do some of us have families and others don’t? Why do some of us have built-in unconditional love and support, while others feel like they have to work to find it? Why do some of us get to celebrate holidays with sticky fingers and homemade valentines, while others don’t even hear the words “Happy Valentine’s Day”?
That just seems like a completely imbalanced plan, God!
As a married woman, I don’t pretend to understand God’s plan when it comes to singleness. And let me offer an apology for not including single individuals in my family as much as I can and should. However, can I offer some simple thoughts?
God’s plan was family. Single people need family.
Take a breath, I don’t mean what you think I mean.
A Barna study in 2017 found that single people were less likely to rebound from doubt and more likely to lose their faith. It found that 65 percent of Christians experienced doubt at some point in their lives, and the most common way to cope with that doubt was to turn to family. Family offers a refuge in chaos and hope in times that feel hopeless. If God created something as beautiful as a family, he must still be good. But what happens when people don’t have a family to turn to?
I’ll say it again—the answer is that we all need family.
I’m not talking about a spouse and kids and a dog and a budgie. I’m talking about the type of family that Jesus talks about in Matthew 12:50: “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Or David in Psalm 68:6: “God sets the lonely in families.” God’s design was for everyone to have a family. Not just the metaphorical “family of God,” but a real, in-your-face, doing life together kind of family.
God’s design was for us to do family in our churches. Not a phone call once a month or a rotating door of small groups, separated by age or marital status, that disperses every summer. A real, intimate and committed family relationship. We all need a family who will be there in 10 years, who will eat Chinese takeout together after a rough day, who will listen to us vent or go on vacation together.
How do we create these types of families? Be authentic and real—share life together. Step out of our comfort zones and start connecting on a deep and intimate level. Knit single people into unrelated nuclear families within the church. Stop separating singles and married people in ministry and start learning and growing together.
I’m not here to offer advice to singles (or anyone for that matter). But what I am here to say is that if we want to support one another on a Christlike level, we have to stop functioning as little islands and start embracing each other like the big dysfunctional family God intended us to be.
Captain Bhreagh Rowe is the community ministries officer, St. Albert Church and Community Centre, Alta.
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Of all the officers the Army has you couldn't find an officer who at the very least understands life as single person to write an article on embracing single people in ministry. As a single person I found it hard to read this article knowing the author admits to not knowing singleness, to not including single people as much as she could. That admission should be enough to have sought out someone else who does embrace single people, includes them, and understands the struggles and benefits of being single.