Dating apps. Set-ups. Break-ups. First dates. Dreams. Longings. The dating world can be a jungle. If you are married or content as a single, you may find it difficult to know how to respond to your friend who is discouraged about being single.
I have been unexpectedly single into my mid 50’s so I’ve heard many well-meaning solutions to singleness. Truthfully, undesired singleness doesn’t make sense when we try to figure it out logically. And there are no easy answers that make unfulfilled longings go away. But here are some things I’ve learned about being there for someone – and what I’ve been encouraged by myself.
- Take time to listen. Listening well seems so basic, yet it’s a great reminder for all of us whether a woman is struggling with singleness or something else. Ask questions. What is the hardest part? What is the best part? What things are draining for you? What is life-giving? How do you see God encouraging you?
- Lament with your friend. The Psalms are full of lament, and it’s high time we as believers learn to grieve out losses with one another. Lament may take shape in these responses: I grieve with you for the losses and disappointment. Things are not right in this broken world including unfulfilled romantic longings, and I am sad with you. I am asking questions with you too: How long, O Lord? Where are you, Lord?
- Affirm her faith. Take time to express your admiration for the way she continues to wrestle out her faith in the Lord in spite of the pain singleness can bring. Three of my single friends and I were at church recently, and I told one who is a few years older than I am how she is an inspiration to me. When she protested, I countered with, “You’re still at church praising Jesus!” Instead of a fix-it mentality, think about how you can offer her the gift of validation for what you see God doing in her story.
- Create space to process with you if she’d like. Some friends just want to vent and long to hear you say, “I’m really sorry. I hurt with you.” Others may want to hear suggestions or parts of your story. In order to determine what your friend might need, ask her how you can support her. Leave the door open for next time by saying, “If you want to talk more, I’m here.”
- Many women find comfort in something tangible. Consider sending your friend flowers, taking her to dinner, or organizing gal pals to go to the spa.
- Finally, at Sacred Story we have created a resource called Beautiful Surrender: Singleness & Marriage in the Book of Ruth. I find hope in living for God’s bigger story through this six-session study. But I also am reminded of God’s love for each woman’s life through Ruth’s story — and through the 23 true, modern-day women’s stories included. Sister, give your friend a copy and enjoy it together.
— Laura Wilcox, Sacred Story Founder and Director