Young and Restless or Home Alone?
What is the fastest growing minority segment of the American population? (Minority not meaning quality, but percentage of population). Not Hispanics, not African-Americans, not Asians, nor Europeans. It’s Singles. *Almost 40% of American adults are single (widowed, divorced, never married)--entire populations of New York, California, Oregon Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, and Maryland.
Wait a minute...Singles aren’t a minority population segment. They’re not an official race or culture. Yes they are. They often hear the comments, the feel the pressure, perceive the stigma, and experience the prejudice that our culture frequently attaches to those who aren’t married. It’s almost like the story in the bible about Noah and the ark (if you don’t know--we can talk about it). The animals went into the ark, two by two--male and female. And if you weren’t paired, you were impaired and weren’t welcome to get on board.
We’re going to find out tonight that being single is a choice many people make, not a problem that’s unavoidable. We’re going to dispel some myths and offer some practical steps tonight. Married listen both ears, things apply to your own marriage.
First hear from two people who will speak to us on the choice of being single.
You may be thinking, wait a minute--how do you know--you’re married. True. I lost my bachelors degree the day after college graduation. I’m thankful for my wife, kids, and years together... But there are experiences in my life with the issue of being single... There were 2 years in college didn’t even date.
And my parents...I remember being huddled in my bedroom with two brothers. Listening in on our parents who were arguing in the living room. Dad takes off. He left home to become a truck driver. It was also a divorce for my parents. I remember the nights where mom would be crying in her bedroom. She’d be working her heart and soul trying to pay the bills and keep her three sons encouraged at school...but who could she empty her cup to...no one. I remember how uncomfortable she felt going to church--people expected her to get involved in the singles group. Nothing wrong with it--pressure to go to the singles group to find purely to find a husband so she could be complete again. If a single adult was not actively looking for a husband or wife every week, every day--they’re not normal--something’s wrong. Didn’t give her the right message.
So many single people, widowed, divorced, or never-married often aren’t sure if they’re supposed to be Young and restless, Sleepless in Seattle, or just Home Alone.
Cartoon Cathy about a Americas favorite single career woman. Produced for 20 years, now in 1400 newspapers daily. Cathy struggles with diets and dating, work and weekends. Some of the cartoons take jabs at the feeling that many single people have that they’re not quite whole and complete if they’re not married. We’re going to look at some misconceptions about being single and see how one is a whole number. Also going to see that marriage doesn’t guarantee completeness.
3 Misconceptions about Being Home Alone
(1). Married people don’t know what it’s like to be alone. Single people do.
The current trend in America today is that single people are developing stronger and deeper friendships than married people.
ILLUS: Spouses spend 7 minutes a week talking. Quote "Almost never..."
Marriages today do not guarantee happiness and bliss. 30% of all American couples experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime...20% of all police officers killed in the line of duty are killed while answering calls involving family conflicts. A study done at U of Rhode Island described the American home as the most dangerous place to be outside of riots and war.
At the same time, singles are spending more time with good friends. Last 10 years, Hobby organizations have shot up 70%, sports associations up 50%. Some people choose to be single because don’t want to rush into a bad marriage. Others want to be single, because they just don’t want to be married, period.
ILLUS: "I have a dog that growls, a parrot that swears, a fireplace that smokes, a cat that stays out all night. Why should I want a husband."
At a party: "I like being single. I’m always there when I need me."
ILLUS: Close relative talked to for hours last week. He dating girl 3 years. Friends pressuring him--when you going to ask her. It’s time you got married. What are you waiting for. But he saw lot of problems in the relationship that he wanted fixed first. Got to get married. Not about to...totally dysfunctional marriage. Finally broke up. 3 years wasted. Not wasted. Great times together. Just didn’t work. He said he knows more know what he wants in a relationship. It taught him more about himself, too. It just didn’t work out. That’s it. Nobody’s fault. Nobody is incomplete or lacks anything.
(2). Single people have either a defect in appearance or personality.
A relative tells of a friend of his--a truly great guy--but he had horrible bad breath. Like Athletes Foot Halitosis... People were worried about him, that he might not get married because his breath was so bad. Come on--everyone has bad breath. When I eat ranch potato chips, Krista has to put up a white flag and say "Truce, I give up. No more war." No this guy may have had a serious problem where even binaca or tic tacs wouldn’t do anything. I don’t know. But there are always going to be those basic hygiene issues that could affect dating and closeness. But hey, everyone has defects and problems. Married people just tend to live with those defects or close their eyes to them.
ILLUS: Like couple on honeymoon, husband grabs wife’s hand "I hope you won’t mind if I mention a few little defects that I’ve noticed about you." "Not at all," the bride replied. "It was those little defects that kept me from getting a better husband." Many couples marry for better or for worse. Husband says I could have done better, the wife says, "I couldn’t have done worse."
While the bible gives great advice on building strong marriages, it does say this, "But those who marry will have trouble in this life, and I want you to be free from trouble" I Cor 7:28. Why?
"We all fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
(3) If you’re single, you’re not quite complete or fulfilled as a married person.
If you admit you want a relationship, you’re co-dependant, desparate, or needy. "Oh, you want a relationship, that means you’re not really whole and self-confident. You need someone else to love, because you don’t love yourself."
Just because a person goes home to a house or apartment with no spouse does not mean that they are alone or incomplete. Just because a person goes home to a house with a spouse does not mean that they aren’t lonely and unconnected.
We forget that Jesus was a single adult. "The foxes have holes to live in, and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest his head" Luke 9:58. We often forget that. We sometimes think that he had no feelings. Must have been times when working hard in the carpenters shop in Nazereth as a young man--beautiful woman walks by -"Hey Jesus." Sacriligious to think that he had feelings. Do we think that he never thought about what it would be like to be married. But Jesus chose not to be married. On purpose. Why? His sole focus in life, his food, his passion, was saving people who were living apart from God. "The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost" Luke 19:10 "My food is to finish the work of the one who sent me" John 4:34. He could have gotten married. But he chose not to, and he was whole, complete, perfect, not lacking anything. One is a whole number.
Jesus was single, yet he knew more about committed relationships than we will ever know.
John 13:35 "All people will know you’re my disciples if you LOVE one another."
Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times."
World’s most famous single person...Mother Theresa. Not fair...vow of celibacy--so what. She still has desires, she’s just brought them under control. She has inspired billions of people by helping the poor and needy on the putrid streets of Calcutta, India. People don’t say "Pity Mother Theresa. She’s never been married." No way. One journalist spent time with her and wrote "I have never seen anyone so joyful."
One is a whole number.
Listen to these words from Jody, a single who went through an ugly divorce. "I have learned a great deal about marriage during this unmarried time. I want to learn all I can know. I want to know what marriage is in today’s world, and why it is what it is, and how to tell when it might work and when it might not. And I want to know what to do about it--shy of another formal ceremony destined to end in another (ugh) divorce. I know my failure in marriage left me traumatized and gun-shy, but that has been a blessing. I’m still single (horray) and I’ve learned so much. The past couple of years I feel as if I’ve had a series of increasingly successful relationships, like mini-marriages, and I truly am open now to the possibility of a permanent relationship. But I don’t have to have one (hooray). I want to be well married to me first. Then I want to keep learning how to be well married to my friends (the women and men who’ve become so precious to me), second. And then, just maybe, I’ll be free to (and will want to) choose to get well married to one special person...third.
#1. I think Jody captured the essence of what we could all start doing tonight. Whether married or single, I challenge you to make some visible changes in your calander that says, "I’m going to build stronger and deeper friendships with people. If you’re single and romance happens in the process --that’s gravy...but that’s not the whole goal. If married--refocus on deepening your relationship with your spouse...and then build other friendships, too. Join a softball league, civic group, become a big brother or big sister. Help out at a hospital or school. Eat out with people at work. Spend more time with people building meaningful relationships.
#2. Don’t worry about the future or live with anxiety. Tackle each day with hope.
"Don’t worry about your life." Matthew 6:25
"I’ve learned to be content in every situation" Phil 4:11
#3. Don’t be afraid to admit you want a relationship with someone special. A single person was asked once if they were looking for a special relationship. They answered, "No. I’m happy with my job." That’s like asking someone if they want a new car, "No I already have a good set of china." I admire people who say, "I’m looking for a relationship, to date...but I don’t need that to make me happy."
#4.Get your self-esteem & self worth from God and don’t depend on everyone’s opinion of you. Know that you are whole regardless of your circumstance. One is a whole number.
In Relationships with Christ:
We are declared "not guilty" of sin (Romans 3:24) We are considered pure and holy (I Corinthians 1:30) We are brand new people inside (2 Corinthians 5:17) We will live forever (Ephesians 1:10,11) We can come fearlessly into God’s presence (Ephesians 3:12) We are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10) We are accepted (Ephesians 1:6) We are chosen by God (I Thess 1:4) We are the apple of God’s eye (Psalms 17:8) The fact that we are considered the apple of God’s eye--wow. We are whole people--single or married. Doesn’t matter. God’s R-rated plan for today is to build genuine relationships with people. Hanging out with others. Hanging out with God. Being real. If something happens that leads to marriage--great, but it doesn’t need to because one is a whole number.