Changing the rules of the game

The organization I used to be with had a “Career Program” and anyone could apply after one year on the field.

Even though I’d been on the field for several years, it wasn’t until I was 30 that I attended a Career Conference as a onetime guest to check it out. The main question (or at least in my mind) asked in the application was “Are you open to making a ten year commitment?”

Single 30-year-old Amy played chicken with Future 40-year-old Amy. Let’s see, I’m single and 30 and if I do this for ten more years I’ll be single and 40. Blink, blink, blink! I couldn’t run fast enough from that conference and I NEVER looked back. I was comfortable taking it year-by-year and if it ended up I was 40 and single, I was cool with that. I just wasn’t cool committing to being single.

Fast forward about fifteen years. When Danielle contacted me about the dream of Velvet Ashes and asked what I thought and if I was interested, I told her I LOVED the idea but if it was going to be a mommy-blog, God bless her, but I wasn’t interested. However, if she really meant womenall women, single, married, kids, no kids, divorced, all ages and stages, widowed, engaged, dating, grieving break-ups, parenting with joy, having hot flashes, parenting from the pits, growing older together – then yes, that sounded like my kind of place.

And that is our hope for Velvet Ashes. I hope you’ve felt it. We need each other. I’m better for hearing about your kids, and this marriage, and that context, and these joys, and those struggles. God has rooted us in stories, complete with plot lines and twists, characters, settings, and seasons.  I need yours and you need mine.

The aforementioned organization has a fairly large batch of new people joining each year with a good sized portion being young single people. We also have a good sized number stick around, find love, and get married. So, during the pre-field orientation there is a buzz of the potential from the newbies. Will this be my story? Will God honor my faithfulness by bringing me a mate?

And then I (or any other number of singles stand up) and are active in their training and preparation. I joking tell them I’m there as a cautionary tale :). Of course, you might fall in love and get married. Or, you might not. Either way, you can have a rich and invested life.

This week we are going to be looking at status. Talking about “singleness” is a bit like talking about the ocean. It’s vast. Parts are tingling with life and parts are dark and cold. There are schools of fish and loners. There are happy fish and those who want OUT OF THIS WATER right now. Over the next weeks and months and years we will swim around in the waters and hopefully you’ll see yourself reflected.

But when it comes to singleness, I can say this for sure: Jesus is into being a game changer.

Hours of my childhood was spent playing Old Maid, eating cheese puffs, and drinking milk with my two sisters and Grandma Young. The goal of the game is to gather pairs of delightful cards like Arnie Angler, Freddie Falloff, or Careless Carrie and not be stuck with the Old Maid card. For some reason my sisters and I fell in love with the old maid card and changed the rules of the game to whoever had the old maid was the winner. Oh we worked so hard to hide her in our hands and protect her. She was the prize. She ended up being bent and worn from all the love.

old maid

My mom recalls cringing every time Grandma would say, “No, no! You don’t want to be an old maid!” Oh but we did! We did!

Grandma was one of the most faithful prayers in our family and I have no doubt my many years in China are a direct answer to her faithful prayers. Looking back, I see five of us in that room eating cheese puffs, drinking milk and playing. Jesus is there, smiling and nodding, knowing that one of us would indeed grow up and become an old maid, a spinster M, the most prized card in the deck.  That’s right my child, value will be placed firmly on her. And you. And all who define value by me and not some outside imposed rules.

I don’t know your story.  But I know that you have been fought over, bought with a price, and you are the most valued card in the hand Jesus is playing.

What games — both real and more metaphorical — have you changed the rules? Did this post resonate with you?

Featured image photo credit  Studio Grafico EPICS via flickr

Old maid photo credit: Amy emailed the etsy store owner and received written permission and a thank you for asking.


  1. Caitriana January 19, 2014

    Thank you! I’ve only just come across Velvet Ashes, and am so glad there are ‘singleness’ stories here too… Love the ocean metaphor! Looking forward to swimming with others along the way, whether it’s sharing the joyous colours of a tropical-reef experience, or sharing encouragement when the cold, dark trenches loom large 🙂

    1. Amy Young January 19, 2014

      Caitriana (what a lovely name! I love to know the stories behind names … is there one with yours?), glad you found us and can add to the stories we tell, whisper, scream and carry for each other :)!

      1. Caitriana January 20, 2014

        Thanks, Amy! It’s a Scottish Gaelic name (pr. about the same as ‘Katrina’, in case you’re wondering…)

        1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

          Thanks! My Scot-Irish roots are beaming (and I love knowing how to say someone’s name correctly in my head).

  2. Tarah January 19, 2014

    Why do I have to be an old maid? Could it be possible to be a cool and hip old maid? However, let’s face it, my fashion know how is petty pathetic. So, here I sit in a chilly NE China knowing that I’m sure to be more and more frumpy the older I get. I started my life in China five and a half years ago thinking that God would definitely provide that soul mate. He hasn’t. I’ve cried, I’ve felt panic but I’ve also felt that continuing call to be here. My belief that He would provide that prince has pretty much gone away with a small glimmer of hope. And, I realize that my hope, perhaps, is in the wrong place. It always has to be Him. My hope must be in Him and no other. If He wants me here as a single, then who am I to argue (although I have)? I have currently been in this continual stream of anger towards Him regarding this subject and I can’t seem to find my way out. I want to be thankful, but instead, I find myself trapped in this heap of self-pity and sorrow. I’m sorry for the over share. I’m somewhat of a mess when it comes to this topic. Amy, how did you find peace and joy in your singleness? Have you ever experienced this anger and sorrow that I’m talking about?

    1. Amy Young January 19, 2014

      I like to think I’m cool and hip 🙂 … maybe that’s the SUREST sign I’m FAR from it! Tarah, you ask such good questions and it’s kind of late at night and my brain is shutting off. I want to honor your questions by thinking on them and will get back to you when it isn’t just a quick reply. (And others are welcome to join in too!). Tarah, I will be back. 🙂

    2. Karen January 19, 2014

      Tarah, I know I can relate to you completely.  I’m right there with you (although many miles away in Mexico).  I struggle with this issue too, especially as I see more and more that window of opportunity seeming to close (or at least in my eyes).  And I can relate to the anger and arguments towards God, and frankly, the anger about becoming angry with a God that I’m supposed to love and share about His love.  Perhaps I’m moving past that anger stage now, but it still very much lingers, and the pain of being single is never far away.  Actually, just a couple days ago I wrote out so many questions in my journal, just listing them…so many unanswered questions that have been tearing at my heart.  And like Job, they remain with no real answers.  But, I guess if it was so for Job and he came out victorious and restored, with abundant blessings but no real answers, then perhaps I can too.  One hard part to those unanswered questions is I don’t know how to respond to it: do I continue with hope for my (positively) answered prayer or do I learn to deal with the “no” I seem to get?  My conclusion (if any)?  I do both.  Since I don’t know the answer as of yet, I deal with it in both ways.  I learn to deal with the “no” and accept it, learning how to live out my life then to the full as it is now, but yet, that doesn’t mean I have to give up on offering up that prayer and sharing that struggle with Him.  Only is this possible with the cross that Christ offers me as my answer.  His answer is perhaps neither a “yes” or a “no” but rather, HIS LOVE IS SUFFICIENT FOR ME.  Not only is it sufficient, but it is abundant blessing and victory, just as Job had with his unanswered questions.  I hope that helps.  I don’t have it figured out.  I struggle with it.  But that is what I’m holding onto right now.

      1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

        Karen, I agree that God wants us to be honest about our wants, desires, hopes, dreams, longings! He welcomes them (just as we would want to hear how our kids/nieces/nephews/dear ones really are doing). But, as you also point out, this isn’t a slot machine :). And what we “get out” isn’t a given. Thanks for adding so beautifully to the conversation.

    3. Cecily January 19, 2014

      I hear you, Tarah!  I’m struggling quite a bit at the moment, too.  Been through the whole anger deal, but now it is just the big question, “Why?”  I can see how the Lord uses singleness.  But what about those desires?  And why does society (including the church) make singles feel like misfits?  Glad to know I’m not a misfit here.  It sounds like I fit perfectly!  Looking forward to the continuance of this conversation.  And, Amy, thanks very much for your post.  Made me cry because I’m struggling in this season.

    4. Jennifer January 20, 2014

      I hear you too… and know that you are not alone in the North-East. I will say some more later …. I need to do something now… but hopefully someone will be able to arrange a meet-up somewhere in the North-east.

    5. Amy Young January 20, 2014

      Tarah, this is something I have thought long and hard about :). Not just since you asked the question. Part of my answer is long, so would it be OK if it’s a separate post later so that we can keep the conversation going? And I SO APPLAUD your comment — you and I both know, due to your research, that there are few, few, few resources for singles overseas (which seems so absurd in this day and age of resources, doesn’t it? And that fact that HELLO,  single women have been on the field in droves almost longer than any other demographic. There’s plenty of material to mine :)). And this might be one of the ways that VA can bless and serve the greater M community. To have these discussions and to begin to create resources. I realize I have not answered your questions :). Would it be OK for answers to come out in future posts?

      1. Jennifer January 20, 2014

        Amy, I think that we are starting here a very powerful and important conversation.  It would be wonderful if our open communication (which is a great blessing in itself) can eventually lead to resources being created that can help meet a very important need in the worlds in which we live. Honored to be part of this community and hopeful for the future.

    6. Caitriana January 20, 2014

      Tarah, thanks for that.. I too struggle with self-pity and sorrow, struggle with what I know is true and believe in my head, but don’t always *feel*, especially when that visceral scream of loneliness hits. Still working on it… looking forward to hearing and sharing more as the discussion continues, but already it’s been such a blessing to know that there are others out there in the same boat 🙂

      I wonder whether the cultures in which we work make it more of a struggle than in our home countries? Or at least, push it in our face more… certainly in China, when everyone from the taxi driver to the granny next door wonder why we’re not married yet and when friends and colleagues keep trying to set us up with people! Being back home in the UK the last few months has been refreshing in that in our culture here, there isn’t the social expectation that you should be married by now… not looking forward to the questions when I go back to China though! (“What, you were home a whole year and didn’t manage to find a husband??!!” 😉 )

      On a purely practical level, something I find really helpful for breaking up a self-pity party (odd though it sounds, and though it’s usually the last thing I feel like doing!) is housework.. strange but true! Something about the physical activity of vacuuming and tidying, I think… endorphins, or maybe just the fact that you’re taking your mind off yourself and doing something useful… does anyone else have similar tricks or tips?

      Perhaps on a more ‘spiritual’ plane, I once read a blog someone wrote saying ‘long-term singleness is a form of suffering’ or words to that effect. I actually find that really helpful, because it normalises it somehow.. maybe because the Bible has lots to say about suffering in general, but also because it reminds me that there are lots of people suffering in different ways, whether that’s bereavement, redundancy, illness, whatever.. the fact that in this life, we are all either suffering right now, or will be suffering in the not-too-distant future, in one way or another, and so we all have to figure out how to respond to it and let God use it for good in our lives, rather than letting it strangle us. That doesn’t sound very cheerful, but I do find it helps me get perspective – not minimising it, but perhaps getting it in a better context. Recently started reading Tim Keller’s book “Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering” and think there’s lots of good stuff in there, though need to read a bit more of it before making any intelligent comment!

      So yeah.. been thinking about this a lot recently, not ‘there’ yet (good days, bad days…) but am finding this discussion really helpful – thanks everyone!

    7. Meagan Stolk January 21, 2014

      Tarah I can relate to the anger and sorrow. There are times where I just weep before God as I honestly pour out my feels of despair and discouragement. When I honestly hand over my weakness and acknowledge that I can’t do this by my own strength I am amazed by the comfort and love that He lavishes out over me. I don’t know what the future holds, if there will be a husband or not, but I know who holds the future and I grip tight to that in my times of deepest loneliness.

  3. Anna Craig January 19, 2014

    So glad you wrote on this topic! What an encouragement!

  4. Karen January 19, 2014

    Amy, how refreshing and encouraging your story of the Old Maid being the prized possession!  It literally brought tears to my eyes.  Not often do you hear that perspective in society or even from the people close around you.  When you feel like you’ve heard everything as far as comments for being single, its consolations and advise, how truly mending it is to hear something new that penetrates the heart (even though that seems contradictory to have something penetrating be able to mend.)  🙂

    I look forward to what comes out of this.  Thank you, Amy.  Thank you, Velvet Ashes.  Thank you, God!

    1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

      Thanks Karen. As I was thinking about ideas for the post, so many swirled. Good grief, what to say that adds value to the conversation. This fall in a shop I happened to see some greeting cards made from cards from the Old Maid deck and nearly fell over! I bought one for each sister and when they received them, they immediately contacted me. That game was one of the “Stones of remembrance” for our childhood. And it really was a game changer for me — I’ve always had such fond associations with “old maid” 🙂 and it makes me sad how such terms are used to hurt people. I want to pour new wine in old wine skins and remember that Jesus truly can redeem anything.  Go Jesus!!

  5. Jo January 20, 2014

    First up, I’m married, so anything I say may be taken with a pinch of salt and ignored if it’s not helpful.  From another perspective, though, Paul talked about getting married if you had to, like it was a 2nd choice and I can see why.  Single people seem full of talk about relying on God and His love being enough.  These are lessons single people learn because they have to. I rely on my husband. It’s not that I don’t get to rely on God or that I can’t rely on God… it’s just far easier to rely on my husband. My husband’s human.  God would be a far greater one to rely on than some bloke (sure, a special bloke to me, but still… a human!) but I’m just not pushed to in my day to day living.  Yes, I need to change this, but where’s the motivation?  I’m not saying feel sorry for me because you guys have the 1st choice option, because I could have too.  But you probably mostly think you’d be better at your relationship with God if you had one with a husband… but honestly… you probably wouldn’t.  Just saying.

    1. Cecily January 20, 2014

      I appreciate your perspective, Jo.  The Lord has spoken to me a lot about this.  Only He knows what the future holds (though we can get a good idea of it, the closer we are to Him). But for those who must rely on Him as you describe, do they not hold a special place in His heart with a special assignment in these last days?

      My desire is not to compartmentalize people here, for the Lord desires closeness with each of us and has work for all of us to do.  My point is just that “singles” may have a special place with a special assignment that cannot be filled by someone who is married.

      1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

        Love these thoughts you both raise — while it’s true that things like marriage and singleness form and inform us (and should!!!), they don’t define us. I think when we can look past labels and see faces, we take a firm step away from compartmentalization.

  6. Laura January 20, 2014

    Amy, thank you for your post and for beginning this discussion. My heart connected with these sentences, “Of course, you might fall in love and get married. Or, you might not. Either way, you can have a rich and invested life.” While I desire the first sentence, I find that God is teaching me that the last sentence is the most important one.

    1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

      Laura, you hit on one of my greatest desires for all people … that we can live invested lives. Even if what we have invested in is not what we might choose (or doesn’t look that glamorous. Hello Laundry Warriors!). I remember a semester where these group of young ex-pats came to my (and my teammates) apartment every weekend and wanted a home cooked breakfast. It was like we were their moms and they wanted to debrief their weeks. Let me tell you, that was NOT how I wanted to spend my time. But then God reminded me that while I have preferences, He has seniority in my life. And I’ve kept in contact with two of those five young people (I think God’s mercy to me to see the fruit of obedience). The key was investment 🙂 … not completely my preferences! (and I do get that it only went on for a semester, not years and years. Don’t know how that might have impacted my attitude!)

  7. JulieB January 20, 2014

    Loved this post Amy.  Love seeing old things through new eyes.  I even had my husband read this post because it was so good!  Thank you from both of us!

    Yes, I am married (37+years).  However, in the last year or so, God has been putting singles on my heart so much.  Yes, I have made several blunders (shall I say insert foot into mouth and chew a bit?) in the past in conversations with singles – including with my own kids!   I have learned a few things over the years (thankfully) and recently God has given me a heart of empathy for some of the loneliness and desire for companionship and just not feeling like they fit into a “couples world” that singles have to face.  (This would include a couple of widowed  or divorced friends too – in being “newly single again”).  I feel just a tiny bit of your pain through my empathetic heart and I am so glad that Velvet Ashes is addressing ALL women.  I love the fact that all of us are chosen and beautiful daughters of our Father.  He is calling each one of us to play a part in His greater story – which is the story of redemption and spreading His glory throughout the whole earth.  We are each contributors to that Greater Story – and learning to trust Him with our stories.  I love the line, “But I know that you have been fought over, bought with a price, and you are the most valued card in the hand that Jesus is playing.”  Amen “Most Prized Sisters” – May we live like we are most beloved and valued!

    1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

      Julie, I wrote a post a few years ago that went viral — it was about singles on mother’s day. I expected it to do a little better than normal, what I had not expected were the amount of mothers who commented on my blog! Even though many were mothers, they each had a story. That post was one of the greatest A-HA moments of my life. We all have a story. What you see on the surface is only the beginning. While we certainly can’t know everyones 🙂 … we can slow down and get to know some. One of my desires is to create space where we can hear them. I LOVE benches for this reason and collect pictures of them. Spaces created for conversations.

  8. Cecily January 20, 2014

    Julie, thanks for your comments.  I say “three cheers!” for married women (and men) who have a heart for singles.  Again, I hate the whole compartmentalization thing because I just want people to be people, but to have you see the struggle and share a caring heart means a lot.  Wish you were here!  Bless you in all that the Lord has for you to do where you are, and glad that you are “here” on Velvet Ashes!

    1. JulieB January 20, 2014

      Cecily- not sure where “here” is but if you are in BJ or even close something could be arranged for a get together and a cup of tea!!!  In any case we can still be friends as you said on Velvet Ashes!

      1. Cecily January 20, 2014

        Julie, next time you swing through Central Europe, let’s have that cup of tea!  In the meantime, look forward to being with you here 🙂

    2. Danielle Wheeler January 20, 2014

      I’m echoing the three cheers, both for Amy’s oh-so-powerful post and for Julie’s heart of compassion for singles.  So much more I want to say on this, but I’ll save it for my post on Friday.  But tonight, I’m rejoicing that my most prized sisters are showing up here, and hearing the value that is placed so firmly on them.

      1. Ashley Felder January 20, 2014

        Yep, same here. Not sure when it started, perhaps a few years ago, that God has really been showing me how to love on singles. How to be careful with my words (plenty of not-meant-to-be-harsh words spoken here, too!!) How to include them when they’re so often excluded from so many circles and activities. I’m so, so thankful for all the Aunties and Uncles my kids have! I mean, really, since we move around so much, the singles around us are often some of their best friends. And for that alone, I’m joyful that there are still singles around us. Looking forward to reading and listening to those on here about how I can love better!!

        1. Cecily January 20, 2014

          Ashley, it sounds like you are already doing a great job at embracing singles.  If anyone were to ask me how they can “love better” as you say, when it comes to singles, all I would say is, “Include them in what you are doing and just treat them like people because they are very much like you!  (i.e.  The similarities far outweigh the differences.)”

        2. Amy Young January 20, 2014

          Heheheh if only “foot in mouth” disease were for some. Sadly, I think we’ve all been there, done that :). I also try to remember when I hear something that rankles me, most likely the speaker did not mean to annoying. And I hope the same grace is offered to me when I make ignorant, or just plain stupid (when I’m tired or hungry) comments. One way you could love me better … make me some chai 🙂

          1. Ashley Felder January 25, 2014

            You keep telling me I need to make you something! Pie, chai..I’m ready! But WHEN?! 😉

  9. Patty S January 20, 2014

    Sooooo powerful, Amy.  I have always loved your perspective on this and I am so touched by the way you fleshed it out for all of us.

    And the ocean analogy… anointed writing!

    1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

      Thanks Patty — it really was. I could not come up with an adequate way to encapsulate everyone. And that sentence popped out. Go God. That was from him to you all!

  10. Meagan Stolk January 20, 2014

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single M man in possession of a sound mind must be in want of a wife.”

    These were the thoughts casually shared by a housemate one evening after discussing the events at church. The new male arrival had been introduced to the plentiful single female population. Whispers were shared by well meaning bystanders of probable matches and of concerns for this guy who could become a target of desire by so many.

    Ok perhaps I exaggerate just a little. Yet it is a challenge for the single female who observes the years past, one after another, yet there is no change in sight. Thoughts fill her mind with questions, wondering if this will be all there is for her life, as she continues on with her struggle between hope and fear.

    I’m often have a wave of fear hit me as I face decisions about remaining overseas and the reality that I am single. I hear tales of people finding love as soon as they return home (I’ve heard of four these last few months) and a part of me wonders if I would fall into that group of exceptions. I rejoice with my newly engaged friends, yet still a part of me aches. I get excited for my friends who announce that they are pregnant, yet I also shed a tear for the absence of my own dream.

    Over here I have met incredible single women who are far more attractive and lovely of heart than I and I question why they are still single. I am surrounded by beautiful women, day in and out, and as my thoughts calculate the comparison I feel myself becoming more consumed by the idea of my status than my true identity.

    I have these words pinned to my desktop so I can read them regularly, especially when the journey seems too hard to bear.
    “I have amazing potential
    I can make good choices
    I am never alone
    I can do hard things
    I am beautiful
    inside and out
    I am of great worth
    He has a plan for me
    I know who I am
    a daughter of God”

    1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

      Meagan, what a rich comment! I have often felt for single M guys — the pressure for the average guy can be intense. For those men, forget about it! Good reminder to pray for them. And I concur that some of the most amazing people I have met, I met overseas. They are deep and funny and invested and smart and talented. Apparently, there are no obvious answers. I like what you have posted on your desk!

    2. Cecily January 20, 2014

      Meagan, thank you for bravely sharing your thoughts.  How many wedding invitations and birth announcements does one have to endure while waiting for the engagement that never came?  God knows the bitterness of heart, and the sorrow for that bitterness that should be replaced with joy for the new couple or the new baby.  God knows, and here I confess that I share in the struggle.

      But lately I have been consumed with the whole comparison thing, and the realization that my heart is full of covetousness which the Lord doesn’t like.  This morning I felt overwhelmed by all of this and I said, “Lord, where is the fruit in my life?  Am I in the wrong place?  Did I miss something somewhere?  You know I want to follow you more than I want to do anything else, but it looks like I surely missed it.  Please speak to me about this because I’m dying inside.”  I was comparing myself to everyone and could see nothing good or right about me.  But then the Lord began to speak and to show me what He had given me to do, the work that I had been doing, even though it is hidden and person to person, one by one, rather than to a large crowd or in a public ministry.

      He showed me that the hardest thing about being single is that I long, with all of my heart, to be a nurturer.  I wanted a husband and children to nurture because that is who I am.  But then today He began to show me the people He has put in my life to nurture.  And suddenly the cloud of darkness that was suffocating me has lifted and I can carry on with joy in my small, unnoticed service.  For He sees, and He is pleased with my obedience in the small things.

  11. Jessica Hoover January 20, 2014

    The conversation here is stunning. I love hearing from all the raw places that God is working in each of us. I’m a married lady…a married young lady at that…and so I always hesitate to chime in on this conversation, but a recent interaction with a single gal renewed my heart to pray for and love on those of you living that calling.

    I was working a booth for our organization at a student conference when a college gal whose dad was there with the organization whose booth was adjacent sidled over and asked if she could talk to me. I said of course because I love to talk and she seemed like a sweet young woman.

    Well, she wanted to talk about relationships. She said that being in college it was hard to make relationships with older women who could offer advice or give perspective and she wanted to hear how I met my husband. I shared the story and we talked for the better part of an hour.

    My husband and I have had the joy of being friends with a lot of amazing young single God seeking women. We’ve over and over again been disheartened at their struggle and the seeming lack of equally focused and Godly men. {This isn’t a treatise on the lack of good men though}

    She told me that her heart was to go overseas and that one of the main things she was looking for was a man whose heart was the same. She said that if God called her to singleness then that would be “Ok”. I looked at her and I said before it could come out of my mouth “No, it won’t be”. She looked shocked, but I went on to explain that I knew that it wouldn’t be ok…at least not immediately.

    I feel like we are quick to try and cover the pain of anything with the words, “It will be ok” Yeah, it will be but the road you walk to get to ok might be a heck of a hard journey. It will force you deeper with Jesus and at times it might just come close to breaking you.

    I think that really meant something to her that I didn’t let her believe at the age of 20 that a call to singleness would be an easy “ok”. In some ways I think that is the same for all of us and that we have to view our callings (long term or in the moment) no matter how seemingly desirable or undesirable as a place for God to make us not into the image of the perfect woman, but into the image of Christ. An image that I think looks unique on all of us. Single. Married. Divorced. Widowed. Mother. Whatever.

    I don’t know…I’m rambling, but single sisters you are fully people and fully loved by a God who calls us to godliness all the same and never ceases in marriage or outside of it to chisel away the rough edges and make us beautiful.

    Also, how amazing are ya’ll for using your singleness for His glory? {Hugs}

  12. Debbie January 20, 2014

    This isn’t in regards to singleness but I can definitely relate to Jesus being a game changer. My m life hasn’t been as I expected. I am more a m’s wife than the fulltime M I expected to be. I have finally found peace in that.

    1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

      Ah Debbie, I have a feeling you’re not alone in the roles and set-aside images of your self and roles (set aside for now in service to your family). I am thankful you have peace … sometimes peace truly does pass all understanding. I am grateful and mystified (in the best sense).

  13. Morielle January 20, 2014

    Dear Everyone, I cant thank you enough for all the things youve said. Youve voiced so many fears I have, and also offered so much hope to where my heart is right now. Karen, your thoughts on the question of asking and not receiving were much needed. That question has been on my mind day and night the past month. Cecily,

    1. Amy Young January 20, 2014

      I feel the same way Morielle … wanting to write to Everyone myself! :). Thanks for pecking away on your phone. You go girl! Your comments are even more a gift given the constraints!

  14. Morielle January 20, 2014

    (sorry, posting from my phone and struggling)Cecily, I cant tell you how much your comment about nurturing those around us from our heart for wifehood and motherhood has encouraged me. Everyone else who commented from so many different perspectives(and statuses :)with such rawness and love and insight and encouragement, I FEEL SO HONORED TO BE YOUR SISTER. Amy, yes yes yes: write more on this!encouragement,

    1. Cecily January 21, 2014

      Thanks, Morielle, for the encouragement!  Would love to share some time with you 🙂

  15. Morielle January 20, 2014

    oh, and Caitriana, housework is soooo therapeutic for me. You can always tell when I am strugggling by my spotless apartment. I love thinking of singleness as a kind of suffering. Lately I have had a bit of Psalm 23 bouncing about in my head “for His name he leads me in paths thay are right, though I walk the valley where death hides the light” I certainly feel as if I am going forward blindly led in the dark, but it is so good to knoe He leads me for His sake, and the path is right

  16. km January 21, 2014

    this is my first post on here, but some of you already know me (julie b!, amy, danielle, laura and others).  amy, i am so grateful that you are a contributing editor and have such wisdom both intellectually and practically and have thought through much of what you discuss and post on this.  i appreciated and actually forwarded your messy middle post about single women on mother’s day when it originally came out.  i love your brave and needed words.  i just finished reading a book called HALF THE CHURCH and it gets the title from a chinese proverb that talks about how women hold up half the sky (and emphasizes this importance that we are HALF of the equation and not less).  it has given me much to think about–especially AS a woman.  i don’t want to downplay specific roles that some women have (wife/mother) but this book reminded me again as you stated earlier–i’m not soley defined in those roles (yes, i am a wife and mother) but i am not ONLY those things.  the author spoke on how exclusive many sermons can be when pastors preach a message of woman=godly wife/mother—but we are even MORE than that and it truly does exclude. 🙁  i echo the words of others.  God has given me a deep empathy for single women–I came to understand this empathy as i lost my 20 week old son, a stillborn.  some of you may already know that.  my heart ached that MUCH MORE for my dear and close girlfriends who are single and STILL rejoice with those at bridal showers and baby showers–faithfully going and participating.  although my experience was different, i believe there are similar angles.  a few months later, i found myself again, like my friend, attending a baby shower and my close single friend was my inspiration and example to me of how to rejoice for another in pure joy while also still having one’s own sorrow.  just recently my closest friend (who is single) had a very hard day (about being single) and i listened and tried to do JUST that.  listen.  i then came across this quote and sent it to her:  “A hurting person is in a storm. They are cold, wet, shivering, and scared. Preaching, platitudes, and advice will not get them out of the storm. Don’t tell a person in a storm that it’s a sunny day. There will likely come a day when the clouds part, but it is not today. It’s not your job to pull them out of the storm. It’s your job to get wet with them.”—Adam McHugh, When Someone is in A Storm

    for me, that was very good for me to read.  i went on to introduce the quote to tell her, i will hold the umbrella for you.  and to let my friend just “be.”  i just again want to thank you, amy and each of you women for teaching me here on VA.  on all these areas, places of life, topics, experiences–thank you for teaching me.  i want to listen.


    1. Amy Young January 22, 2014

      km, first of all, every time I hear of the death of your son, I feel a bit sad and it gives me pause. I’d imagine that there will be other “trigger” points in the future — you’ll always remember the date he was born, the time of year he was due. Your story will bear elements of him always! And I love your affirmation of women’s place in the kingdom. I’ve heard of that book, but haven’t yet gotten around to reading it … so many books, so little time :)! What a beautiful quote, and such truth. I’m glad you shared it with your friend and here, with us. Though it’s been several years since i’ve seen you, I smile seeing you here! xoxo A

  17. Shannon January 22, 2014

    Thank you so much for this article and for all the comments.  I’m a 40 something single living alone in Japan when all I ever dreamed of doing was raising a family in my hometown of small town Tennessee.  Don’t get me wrong….I love my life…..but sometimes I still wonder what it would be like to have a family of my own and long to have someone to meet me at the door when I come home.  It’s easy for me to feel like I’m the only person dealing with the struggles of being single but knowing there are other people out there struggling with the same thing makes me feel not so alone.  Thanks.

    1. Cecily January 22, 2014

      Hi, Shannon!  Your post sounds like something I could write.  Just change m location and hometown, and we’re a lot a like!  Glad to be on this journey together with you.  The Lord bless you and encourage your heart, especially on the days when you really feel single 🙂

  18. Elizabeth Legendre January 31, 2014

    So I know that this is a little late (I haven’t been around much lately), but I just wanted to say that reading through this post and all the comments has been such a blessing. Seeing others talk about their struggle with singleness and all the encouragement that has come out of that, the real and raw comments, knowing that I’m not alone. Thanks y’all from this single girl!

  19. Morielle February 12, 2014

    Cecily, I have been thinking often of your testimony, how the Lord began to show you the people in your life He wants you to nurture. And then I studied Psalm 113. Isnt it wonderful that this psalm, which describes Gods nature (above the heavens, lifting up the poor) ends with the words “He gives the barren woman a home, making her a

  20. Morielle February 12, 2014

    joyous mother of children.” Ever since reading your comment He has done just that for me: He opened my eyes to how blessed I am for the home I have, and the students who often populate it and who have great need for His nurture.

    1. Cecily February 18, 2014

      Thanks, Morielle, for the encouragement.  It is always fun to know when something we have shared brings some good news to the hearer!

      As I was reading Psalm 113, I thought about Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2, which I was reading today.  In both of these scriptures we see the great love the Lord has for those who sometimes feel forgotten.

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