a humorous and touching book about being a single Christian. I invited Kate to share some content from her book here at BHR, I thought some of you might be interested. You can buy the book here or on Amazon and connect with Kate on her blog or go check out her music here (yes, she's also a musician). Enjoy the post!
My friend Jess is a beautiful, single blonde girl who has been a missionary
in Italy for 10 years and is the same age as me. One day, an Italian woman,
let’s call her Mamma Carmen, came up to her with a little charm necklace that
had a picture of a saint on it.
“What’s this?” asked Jess.
(Cue in accent of Italian mama who doesn’t speak much English)
“A necklace for you. A picture of Saint Anthony. “
“Who is Saint Anthony?”
“Is-a- the patron saint of lost-a things.”
“And what have I lost, Mama Carmen?”
“Oh, you know sveetie. “
“No I don’t know. What is that I have lost?”
“You lost-a your husband.”
“Mama Carmen, isn’t that usually the saint you pray to for a lost sock or car
keys-things like that?”
“Yes, but not for you. For you, pray to him for husband. More important than
Mama Carmen’s Formula:
Lost Husband + Praying to Patron Saint
of Lost Things + Ten Hail Marys= 1 wedding, 5 socks, 2 spoons, and 1 bracelet
you thought you gave to your friend Jill.
I had my own formula concocting conversation with a ministry leader of mine
a few years back. Let’s call her Emily. The conversation looked like this:
“Kate, do you remember our babysitter Joann? Well, she went through a
season of really struggling with being single like you are going
through. She cried and battled and finally brought her burden to the
Lord. She let go.
Two weeks later, she met her husband. And he looks just like Ryan Gosling.
I said, “Emily, I am really happy for Joann. But she is twenty freaking
“So? What does that have to do with anything?”
I respected and loved this leader, but I just couldn’t brush the comment off
I said “I have had a decade longer than her of wrestling with God over this
issue. In all my wrestling, I have had several seasons where I have
been content as a single person, embracing the thought of God as my husband.
But often, those seasons fade, and I’m struggling again. It is a cycle that
happens. I don’t think God laughs at my cycles of frustration. I think he
understands. I think he wants to meet me there. “
Emily continued to argue with me, saying that I just needed to let go,
insinuating that it was my own fault that I was still single.
I said, “Em, please understand me here. If you had a friend who was not
getting pregnant or who was having multiple miscarriages, someone who had been
struggling with barrenness for ten years, would you say to her ‘If you just
trusted the Lord more with your barrenness, he would give you a baby?’ You
would never say that! You recognize how much she is mourning that loss, and so
you careful with her words. You don’t want to hurt her even more by making her
feel like it might be her own fault.
Well at times, I feel barren. Not only barren in my childbearing, but barren
as a lover as well. I don’t have children or a husband, and so I really have no
immediate blood family. Please, please, be sensitive to this barrenness in me.
Please don’t tell me that I have done something wrong in not letting go, and
the result of that shortcoming is my barrenness.”
I know that sounds pretty heavy, but it is how many of us feel at times.
In the very thick book of popular theology that is not actually in the
Bible, a book I like to call First
we have this formula:
Not letting go=being single.
Letting go= being married.
Most singles I have talked to have had this formula given to them in one way
or another. Many of them dozens of times. Almost every time I mention writing
my book on singleness, single people give me some kind of version of this
Most of us, when we first heard this formula as a young person, grabbed our
journal and bible and went to a quiet place. We turned our sweet young faces to
heaven with tears in our eyes and said “Lord, I let go. I give my husband to
Do you know why we were saying this? Because we wanted a husband. And
according to the formula, if you wanted a husband, you had to let go of him
first. So we were letting go of him in order to get him.
Quite ironic, isn’t it?
But as years passed, when that formula didn’t work, we started cringing when
someone told us we just needed to let go. We couldn’t put our finger on why it
irked something deep inside of us, but it did.
I have a theory about why it frustrates us so much. At the root of this formula
is the idea that all single people have done something wrong and all married
people have done something right. Married people, I know you probably never
meant to make us feel that way, but it is the nature of that formula.
It kind of reminds me of the story of Job. Here is the formula we can get
out of his story:
Tragically losing everything+wife that
is pissed+hideous boils all over your body+annoying friends telling you that
you must have done something wrong to deserve this+being totally frustrated+God’s
booming voice telling us humans that we don’t know as much as we think we
do and that he doesn’t fit in our formulas and boxes+ praising God even through
horrible circumstances and singing “Blessed Be Your Name”= even more stuff than
you had before.
Sound familiar? That story is one of the oldest in the bible. One of it’s
lessons? Don’t make formulas. Meet him, wrestle with him, praise him even when
you don’t understand, but never, ever, put him in a box.
As Donald Miller said, “As much as we want to believe we can fix out lives
in about as many steps as it takes to make a peanut-butter sandwich, I don’t
believe we can.”
My married friend Becca explained to me that married people don’t often have
bad motives in their formula making. She said that when human beings don’t
understand something, they make formulas. They want to feel like they are
giving their friend some control over the situation. They even make their own
life journeys into formulas. Sometimes we singles cling to the formulas given
to us because we want some control over the situation as well.
I really appreciate that we had this conversation because it reminded me
that married people are not the enemy. They love us.
But out of love, I want our married friends to understand why these formulas
are so hard for us to hear.
These formulas makes us feel like our being single has nothing to do with
God’s will or our choices or the enemy or any other theory you have on why hard
It has to do with our lack.
We already struggle with feeling like we lack when we wonder why we haven’t
been chosen. Please don’t cut that wound deeper.
This formula also makes us feel like our not being married has to do with
our relationship with the Lord, which evidently is wanting.
For most of us, our relationship with the Lord is the most sacred one that
we have. Please, please, don’t criticize that relationship as well. Don’t tear
down the one relationship where we feel loved and accepted. Even if you mean
well, just don’t do it.
I think a good rule of thumb for both parties is to do less formula making
and pat- answering and do more listening. Listening to what the Lord has to
say, and listening to each others’ journeys with compassion.
Restrain yourselves from formulas. But don’t restrain yourselves from giving
each other a hug. We probably both need one.
Be encouraged that we all have our own journey, and that all of our journeys