The Dark Side of Green

The Dark Side of Green

There is a dark side to singleness.

An ugly, evil, green dark side.

Four years ago, I was preparing to move to my host country. I packed up my house, held a yard sale, boxed up what I wanted to keep, and made all of my own arrangements for what to do with my earthly possessions. I sold my car, bought my own plane ticket, booked my own pre-field training, and packed my own bags. I fundraised, explored potential job options, and made my rounds saying the big goodbyes. And I did it all alone.

I never felt so solo in my life. 

At the same time, one of my best friends was also preparing her own move overseas. She was also boxing up her house, looking into international insurance plans, and learning how to juggle luggage while standing on a bathroom scale. 

But she wasn’t doing it alone. Her husband and three kids were joining her every step of the way. 

And from the outside looking in, I felt green with envy. 

Why can’t I have someone to do this with, Lord? Doing brave things alone has to be one of the hardest things you ever ask people to do. What is up with you giving my friend companionship but asking me to ride this out solo? Where’s the fairness in that? 

The good thing about God is that He’s not taken back by our honest questions. Another good thing about God is that He always gives us a way out of “stuck” spots, if we’re willing to take it. 

One day, I was together with my friend and we were discussing the ups and downs of the season of transition we were in. She shared with me how she feels stretched thin, walking with her husband through the hard things he’s facing with this impending move, learning the needs of her 3-year old, her 2-year old, even her infant daughter, and having to do all of this in a sleep-deprived body. She didn’t pour this out as a pity-party, but rather as an honest confession of what it’s like to do transition as a wife and a young mom. 

It was so good for me to hear that. She didn’t have it nearly as easy as my jealousy-ridden story line had constructed. 

Listen, ladies. I’m in it with you. I know how hard it is to carry the alone reality. It seems we have two polar opposite paths to choose: grin and bear it, pretending to be wonder-woman, or hang our heads in deep self-pity for how hard it is to walk solo.

It can feed an attitude that says that we have the trump card on loneliness and hard. It can skew our perspective even on the Apostle Paul’s reminder that singleness is better because we have more time for God’s work (1 Corinthians 7:32) and turn even that into a pity-party (see, I always have to be the martyr). 

We’ve got to cut the hand of the green monster who feeds us those kinds of lies. 

Lies that say our lot in life is the hardest. Lies that say we have reason to become bitter and demanding. Lies that lead us to believe we don’t matter. 

About a year after our arrivals on the field, my young mom friend and I were FaceTiming, sharing stories of lives in our new respective homes and catching up on what we’ve been through. She honestly shared how hard the year had been, feeling so busy with keeping her children in a secure place that she felt isolated from so much of the work they had come to do. The few meaningful relationships she had been able to establish were those who were able to come into her home. 

Again, I was struck with how good it is to walk close to people in different seasons of life. While my year had also not been easy, after twelve months of heavy investment in my job and community, I now had a number of relationships that were giving back to me. Maybe what the Apostle Paul was saying about having more time for the work of the Lord is not only something that benefits the kingdom, but something that is an enormous blessing to me in the here and now as well.

Let’s lay aside our desire to slam the trump card of singleness on top of every conversation about loneliness. That doesn’t mean pretending the lonely isn’t there; it means not using the lonely as a weapon to defend our kingdom of self. 

It means laying aside the stones we want to throw and staying current with people in other stages who are doing hard things, too. 

Singleness is hard. It’s lonely. It’s long. But don’t let the lonely and the long turn you green. Don’t let it isolate you from others who have what you want, because maybe, just maybe, they’re dealing with their own lonely and long.

What if we could then join forces and walk together? It might still be long, but it would sure help the lonely dissipate. 

Stay strong, sisters. And stay soft. Jesus is near. 

How do you find the balance between being honest about the lonely and not using it as an unhealthy way of garnering pity? 

7 Comments

  1. Emmy May 17, 2021

    This is so helpful to me— as a mom with lots of single teammates, I’m grateful that we can relate to one another in the depths of our own struggles with loneliness, and that Jesus meets us BOTH in those places! Really thoughtful words on this topic. Thank you! ❤️

  2. Liz May 17, 2021

    This resonated with me, as I came to the field single and got married at 35 — so I’ve seen both sides. There was no problem setting out as a single for me, and looking back I’m SOOOO thankful I didn’t have to make that transition with a family! Moms have to think for everyone, adapt to everyone’s needs, etc., and I’ve seen the struggles of adapting to new culture and language that others have experienced. I also make a distinction between “loneliness” and “aloneness”; the first can be experienced by anyone in any situation, while the second can be specific to singles, and that’s what I felt when I got into my 30s. I had plenty of friends, but yearned for that one “common denominator” that would accompany me through all of life’s chapters. And yes, someone to carry the luggage and move heavy furniture is really a plus! Thankfully, in God’s timing, he eventually came along, but either way, I needed to learn to make Christ my first goal, my best friend, my sufficiency. It’s a question of perspective. Now as a married person I try to be aware of the singles around me and their needs. Oh, and the cultures we work in can have a huge impact on how we experience singleness…!

  3. Psk May 17, 2021

    Thank you. I have only been in my new country two weeks. I have asked God the hard question- why did you call me to do this alone? When things go wrong I put the pressure on me. I carry the load. I think what am I doing here? I hear God say hang in there. I got you. I am looking for important documents I can’t seem to find. I feel the pressure. I think no one to carry the burden with me. God Said I got this. Give me that burden.

  4. Sarah Hilkemann May 17, 2021

    Thank you for these honest thoughts, Maria! It’s such a good reminder that we all long for something. I can look at my married friends and think, “Why do they get the ‘easy’ way? Why is their life perfect?” And then I sit with them and hear their hearts and realize we each have our ‘hard’ and we each have our ‘easy’ and it just looks different. How can I be present and help with the ways that things are challenging for her? And how can I let her in to the hard and vulnerable places in my life? I so appreciate you leading us off with this conversation.

  5. Leigh May 17, 2021

    This is so good, so true, and so needed! I wish I had read this years ago as a single on the field. As some who commented above I served for more than eight years as a single and didn’t meet my future husband until I was 30. We married when I was 34 and returned to the field together almost immediately. I remember very starkly the tears and the struggle of feeling so alone as a single. But now I’m experiencing a different kind of aloneness as our circumstances plus our family choices mean that I have very little opportunity to fellowship with others or to minister outside of the home. I am content with this for now but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Another thought is that there’s a sense of loneliness when you and your teammates do not agree on strategy or ministry focus. But when you and the person you are supposed to be closest with in all the world may not agree – or just struggle to communicate- that feeling of loneliness is even deeper (praise God for His leading and providing through prayer and patience in either – teammate or spouse – situation). Be faithful and be patient, sisters!!!

  6. Madi August 5, 2021

    Thank you for sharing this. I resonate so deeply as I’ve been wrestling through those feelings. I am in the support raising season and it has felt suffocatingly lonely at times. My best friend got married right before she left for the field and it’s easy for me to think of how good she has it since she has a partner, but our honest conversations remind me of the challenges of having to not only carry her own grief, but the grief of a man she is still getting to know in the context of marriage. This blog helps me feel understood as well as offering perspective on our own advantages as single women. Thank you!

    1. Madi August 5, 2021

      Oh my word…I thought the image was the profile picture and now I can’t figure out how to get it off…I’m so embarrassed ha!

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