A Letter to Singles

You are loved. Cherished, even.

Not because you were brave enough to move overseas “alone.”
Not because you ignored the caring relatives who asked, “How in the world will you find a husband over there?”

You are loved. Adored, even.

Not because you’re an independent thinker, a strong person.
Not because you’ve sacrificed.

You are loved. Anticipated, even.

Because of Him.

You are loved by the eternal God, your Harbor.
You are loved by a Dad who wraps you up in his everlasting arms.

You are loved by the One who knows the true depths of loneliness and the rich intimacy of friendships.

Indeed, you are loved.

You are valuable.

And you are needed. Our churches, our teams, and our families need you.

You probably know that already. You probably feel that already. But just in case you don’t, as a brother, father, husband, team leader, pastor, and friend, let me remind you how much we value you and need you.

We don’t need you to be a wonderful Christian woman. We need you to be a wonderful Christian human, unique because of your personhood, not just because of your womanhood. We need you to love people uniquely, heartily, and with passion.

You see the woman caught in adultery differently. We need your eyes. You are more aware of the emotional needs behind the physical needs. We need your awareness. We need your heart.

We need you to lead. Your perspective is valuable, your needs valid, your abilities real. You see problems and solutions differently. We need your intellect.

We need you to support us. Not like a cook supports the troops, but like a soldier supports a comrade. We serve side by side in this thing.

My kids need you. And not as a babysitter.

My sons need you to show them what a strong woman looks like. Teach them that a woman’s value does not come from the fact that she’s got a body, or a husband, or kids.

My daughters need you. They need to see a woman who’s willing to follow God’s call regardless of who joins her. They need to see a woman who pursues God on her own, enjoying her own relationship with him.

You are not half a unit. Some stray ingredient that I guess we’ll mix in with the “real” ingredients of teams and churches and potlucks.

You are not leftovers.

Without single women serving abroad, there would be a gaping hole in the Church and in the history of modern missions. And in my own life.

Growing up, the names (and books) of Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, Corrie ten Boom, and Elisabeth Elliot taught and inspired and coached me. I read their books, listened to their stories, and learned from their faith.

Single women still teach, inspire and coach me. I am grateful for ladies like Amy, Sara, Yvonne, Tanya, Christina, Rhoda, Ann, Jenny, Sue, Sarah, Mary, Sovannara, Emma, and so many more. I listen to them speak, I read what they write, I watch them love people, I observe their journey through Facebook status updates, and I am grateful.

I need them. The Church needs them.

And Jesus loves them. And he loves you too. Not because you’re awesome or beautiful or perfect. Not because you’re really good with Instagram filters. But because you are part of his Bride, his people. Immensely valuable.

Every day, Elisabeth Elliot began her radio program with this reminder, “You are loved with an everlasting love – that’s what the Bible says – and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

May you remember his everlasting love,
May you rest in his everlasting arms,
Today, tomorrow, and everyday.

With deep appreciation and gratitude, your friend,
Jonathan Trotter

~~~~

In what ways will you choose to intentionally rest in His love today?  

Are there areas of your life in which you have compared yourself to society’s standards rather than your Creator’s? 

Will you relinquish those to Him today? 

 

49 Comments

  1. Melissa B February 16, 2016

    Thanks.  This is the message we NEVER hear.  In fact, you could about put the opposite.    We need to hear the truth and more than just from ourselves.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 17, 2016

      Thanks for the comment, Melissa. Truth be told, I’m kind of sad this post resonates with folks. I mean, this should be a message ya’ll hear all the time, from all sorts of people. I’m so sorry you hear the opposite. Yikes. In any case, I’ll do my best to upend that trend! Thanks again for reading and thanks for the feedback!

    2. RA February 19, 2016

      Exactly

  2. Kimberly Todd February 16, 2016

    Jonathan, I am deeply moved by this letter. And I really like your bio.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 17, 2016

      Thanks, Kimberly! And for the record, Elizabeth really likes the bio too.  : )

  3. Sonia February 16, 2016

    Thank you for this as has been said we don’t often here this message!

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 17, 2016

      Glad it was a blessing, Sonia! Have a great day!

  4. Erica February 17, 2016

    Thank you for writing this and honoring single women with your message.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 17, 2016

      It’s my privilege, Erica. The community here at Velvet Ashes has been such a blessing to me and many others; I’m just glad to be able to give back a bit. Thanks for reading!

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 17, 2016

      You’re welcome, Kimberly. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Jonathan Trotter February 17, 2016

    By the way, a quick shout out to Danielle and Amy and the others here at Velvet Ashes! Thanks for inviting me to Men’s Week!  : )  Ya’ll are awesome.

    1. Amy Young February 17, 2016

      We love all Trotters! And this message, clearly, was a balm. 🙂

  6. Emily Smith February 17, 2016

    I loved this and it took me a while to figure out exactly why. What was it that made me breathe deeply and relax?

    I think it was the fact it wasn’t written for single women. Don’t get me wrong, I understand who the intended audience was. Yet I think you could substitute the audience, change a phrase or two…and it could be about any group of people who have not been given the dignity and value that is due to all those who bear God’s image.

    Heart, intellect, strength, courage. Those are not qualities unique to single women. They are by no means qualities that a woman will give up if she gets married. The circumstances where those qualities may manifest themselves may change, but the character of the person is the same.

    Thank you. As so many have already said, thank you. For me, the power in this was that I just felt that I was invited to the table as a equal. This was not the encouragement to use my remaining time as a single woman well. Rather it felt like the encouragement to hold my head up and be reminded that I also am an image bearer of God.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 18, 2016

      Yes! Invited to the table. Equal image bearer of God. Having qualities that remain, regardless of marital status.

      I’m so glad those messages came through, and I’m really glad they were encouraging too! : )  Thanks so much for the comment, Emily, and may you always hold your head high as an image bearer of the King.

  7. Michelle February 17, 2016

    Thank you!  It’s a blessing to be reminded of this…that we’re not second class, not in any way inferior because we don’t have a husband, not a problem to be figured out,  but that we actually have something special to contribute.  I believe that, but it’s often tempting to look instead at the way things appear and “society’s standards.”  But when I keep my eyes focused and my heart thrilled with our Creator’s calling and purpose and love for me, life is a beautiful and fulfilling journey.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 18, 2016

      Thanks for the comment, Michelle! And may the Father richly bless you on this “beautiful and fulfilling journey.”

  8. CJ February 17, 2016

    Thank you so much for saying this! It touched the depths of my heart. There are so many people don’t value/aren’t sensitive to singles!

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 18, 2016

      Thanks for the encouragement, CJ! May the Father’s love be very real to you today…

  9. KB February 17, 2016

    I can’t thank you enough for what you wrote. It was a true blessing to me. I truly needed to hear this today as I have been struggling the past few weeks of what is my value as a single overseas worker. Many times, I have felt that I was being used or that everyone felt I didn’t understand or didn’t know anything because of being single. I know God has a perfect plan for me and I am anxiously seeking His will for how He wants to use me. I pray that I can be a blessing to others and show them that God has a purpose for each and every one of us.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 18, 2016

      Ah, I’m so sorry you’ve felt used and useless like that. That’s just wrong. I pray that God will surround you with folks who understand, on a gut level, who you are. And of course, when they understand who you are, they will value who you are!  : )  I’m so glad you dropped by, KB. May you know, deep in your soul, the greatness of the Father’s love for you today.

  10. Amy Young February 17, 2016

    When I read this yesterday, I thought of my nieces. Potential single women in the making. I agree with what you said in an earlier comment . ..  it’s sad this rings so deeply because it is the message that rings from God’s heart, so it shouldn’t be so unusual. BUT it also encourages me. This is the message I was raised with and it makes all the difference. What a world it will be when this is the heart beat of us all :). Thanks for the taste of heaven today, Jonathan!

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 18, 2016

      What a world indeed! Thanks for the encouragement, Amy! And that’s so cool that you can stand on this side of things and say “it makes all the difference.” What a great testimony to Love.

  11. Jennifer February 17, 2016

    Powerful, Powerful, challenging, true words, speaking to the heart, is for me the reality of what these words mean.  Your closing words when you said: “May you remember his everlasting love, May you rest in his everlasting arms, Today, tomorrow, and everyday.” reminded me, as I have been learning to live in recently, that it is in his everlasting arms that we can truly find rest, not just sometimes, but always, every single day. I know I need to and will go back and read over these words many times. They are too deep and to rich to take in all at once. Thank you for taking the time to write these words for us all. 

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 18, 2016

      That’s so true, Jennifer! In His everlasting arms there is more than comfort and security; there is also rest. Peace. Frankly, the longer I’m around the more I believe that that’s what we’re all looking for anyway. Some folks use money to try to find peace. Some use relationships. Or pleasure. But really, we’re all just flopping around trying to find peace, while the Father is extending his arms to us, saying, “Um, I’m right here.”

      Thanks again for dropping by, and Happy Thursday! : )

  12. Amy A February 17, 2016

    Thank you for speaking from the Father’s heart. I live in a nation that it has been said is the worst place to be a woman. I constantly surrounded by cultural voice that less you are less, inferior and powerless. When I first came to this place I had a team leader who spoke these truths that you have shared over our team and the single women I served with. Reading this today I realized in this last year that I have been back there has not been this physical voice of men speaking this truth. Thank you for doing that today! I so needed to hear this coming from the Father’s heart. You have an important voice breaking through the lies many of us working overseas as women are surrounded by. Thank you for using your voice to bless and speak truth.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 18, 2016

      Oh wow, Amy. I’m so glad you shared this comment. Thank you. As I read and re-read your comment, I couldn’t help but pray for you and others in similar circumstances…

      Father, may your voice resound in the hearts of these women, echoing through the chambers of their hearts, destroying lies and untruths. Your voice, the one that shakes the forests and roars like the ocean, may it resonate deeply, lighting the dark, restoring. May the river of life, flowing from your throne, cascade unhindered into the hearts of your daughters. Amen.

  13. TJ February 18, 2016

    Thank you for the blessing today.  The road is long sometimes, with very little to look forward to.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 18, 2016

      I’m glad it was a blessing, TJ. May you sense the Father’s presence on the road today…

  14. RA February 19, 2016

    I’ve worked in ministry for years, and none of these things have ever been communicated to me.  I’ve been the babysitter…without anyone even saying thank you.  I’ve been the person who is expected to work almost every waking hour…because what else would I do…I have so much time since I’m single.  I’ve been told I have no right to offer any advice or comment concerning anyone’s children, because how could I know since I am not a mother.  I’ve become too old for the singles group and become someone who has no place to belong, no group for me.  It hurts beyond words.  The strength to continue is barely there.  Yet I know the Bible is true, that God loves me, and that He will give me grace to keep going.  I do not feel that I have any value where I am, but I know I can’t quit.  Thank you for this letter.  Thank you for showing the true heart of God.  Thank you for the reminder that I am important to God even if no one else sees my value other than for the work that I do.  Thank you for the encouragement to continue.  I wish your message could be shared with every Christian.

    1. KB February 19, 2016

      I know exactly how you feel and am definitely praying for you. I have felt the same way for a long time. It has taken God’s grace and spending lots of time with HIM to see that I am someone special. Spend time meditating on the Psalms! I love Psalms 62 which tells us that God is our refuge no matter what!

    2. Emily Smith February 19, 2016

      Father, we pray for RA right now. You have created her in your image. You have given her unique gifts. You see her as valuable. Your love, your thoughts and desires for her are what matter most. This does not stop the pain from other people’s comments and actions.

      As was said so beautifully in the Psalms, You are near to the broken hearted and save those who are crushed in spirit. The little moments add up. The off hand comments. The direct blatant affronts. The systems that marginalize. No one event seemed to be that big of a deal…but combined they have left broken hearted and crushed spirits.

      Remind RA that you see her. You see her value and her pain. You want her to recognize and grieve the hurt and then to receive healing and a renewed awareness of your truth.

      Bring people into her life that can speak to her value. People whose voice will be stronger and louder than the hurt.

      We ask in Jesus’ name, knowing that you hear and see and know, and that you love your child far more than any person can imagine. Amen

      1. Jonathan Trotter February 22, 2016

        Amen!

    3. Jonathan Trotter February 22, 2016

      I am so sorry, RA. I’m sorry you’ve been used, leaving you feeling uncared for and valuable only for what you can produce. I am sorry that you hurt so much.

      God sees you. That’s so very true. But even beyond seeing, he cares. And that is true AND absolutely amazing. Elizabeth actually wrote an article here at Velvet Ashes that speaks about a God who wants to hear your story. I was reminded of her article as I read your comment. You can read it here: https://velvetashes.com/the-god-who-wants-to-hear-your-story/

      I’m so glad you joined the conversation here, RA. I do hope you feel heard and cared for and prayed for. May the grace of God be palpably near…

  15. Christy J February 19, 2016

    Thank you so much for speaking these truths. How I wish we as Christians were able to provide this kind of affirmation and encouragement to one another as a lifelong habit, reminding one another that we are loved and valued by God. I have often wept over how single people (women and men both) are underappreciated and misrepresented by the body of Christ. Your words so beautifully captured the essence of what we all desire to hear: that our lives are valuable to God and to others. Thank you for being an encouragement to me and others like me who have poured our hearts into loving and serving God.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 22, 2016

      It is “the essence of what we all desire to hear,” isn’t it? I totally agree. We’re all just longing to hear that we are valuable to God and others. Thanks so much for the comment, Christy, and I’m so glad this article was an encouragement to you.

  16. Peter Bowers February 20, 2016

    As one who serves overseas alongside single ladies I can’t tell you how much I agree with all that you said. These ladies are rare gemstones of incredible worth, each unique and each so valued…

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 22, 2016

      Hey, thanks for the comment, Peter! The more folks saying this kind of stuff the better. : )

  17. Theresa February 22, 2016

    Thank you for this. I honestly thought, until now, that there would not be a man on earth who would take the time to understand and value the single women amongst him. You give me hope that maybe someday I will have the privilege of doing m work and ministry with one of you. To be able to call you my teammate and brother.

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 22, 2016

      That’s my hope for you too, Theresa! May the Father give you some great brothers in work and ministry!

  18. Cecily February 24, 2016

    Jonathan, it seems you hit a nerve, as I read the responses above.  I will agree that it hurts to be treated like a “less than” because I’m not married, not a mother…  I’m a person.  I would love to be loved and cherished just because I am a person, rather than being treated as someone who is lesser.  I don’t believe that people intentionally think these thoughts or treat me in a certain way, but in society, especially as the only “single” overseas in my community, the message resounds loud and clear on a regular basis, “YOU ARE THE ODD ONE OUT.  WE DON’T HAVE A PLACE FOR YOU, BUT I’M SURE YOU UNDERSTAND.”

    1. Jonathan Trotter February 28, 2016

      Yeah, I had an inkling that this was “a thing,” but I had no idea it was this BIG of a thing! Yikes. I’m so sorry you’ve been treated like less than, whether intentionally or not, and I hope and pray that you will indeed feel loved and cherished by those around you “just because you’re a person.” Thanks so much for the comment, Cecily!

  19. Charity July 16, 2016

    I just stumbled on this website and this was the first article I read. Wow. I don’t wish to be repeatative, but this was a timely message that is so rarely vocalized…even amid godly circles. To me what resonataed was this :

    “You are not half a unit. Some stray ingredient that I guess we’ll mix in with the “real” ingredients of teams and churches and potlucks.”

    Words are certainly powerful. Thank you for this breath of fresh air.

    1. Jonathan Trotter July 24, 2016

      You’re so welcome, Charity! I’m so glad this article was a breath of fresh air, and I’m so glad you’ve found the community here at Velvet Ashes!

  20. Addie May 9, 2017

    I’m just coming across this now, but thank you so much for this letter, Jonathan! Beautiful words that sink deep into my heart…
    Because I have, and still sometimes do feel “less than”, and that my sacrifices as a single woman are less than the ones a woman would make for her husband, her kids, her family. And the enemy is certainly good at whispering twisted interpretations through messages from church members and leadership who do mean well. This letter was unlike anything I’ve read, and I am grateful for the encouragement from God I received from your words!

    1. Jonathan Trotter May 10, 2017

      I’m so happy to hear this, Addie! May you continue to receive such encouragement from God! Thank you for your service.

  21. Fran Thring May 20, 2017

    I love this thought- my life has never been about finding a guy but rather about growing as a person and building things of lasting impact. I often feel like my value is less because my priorities are different, although rationally I am aware that this isn’t true. There is something beautiful about a woman who doesn’t waste her life in countless thoughtless relationships but focuses primarily on caring for humanity.

    1. Jonathan Trotter May 26, 2017

      Sorry about the avatar confusion! : ) Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad this article was a bit of validation for you.

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