Single Life and the Lost Art of Hospitality

I sat by myself in a church pew almost every Sunday. After the service I always ate lunch alone.

Mondays through Fridays I drove to work alone, went to the gym alone, and spent the evenings alone. The only deviation to that was Wednesday night church and Bible club.

Saturday was the day I would hang out with my friends or my sister- my favorite day.

This was my life for eight years when I lived in Illinois.

This is the life of many single people.

Don’t get me wrong- I liked living on my own. But there were many times when I felt the aloneness deeply. One of the major reasons I moved back to Ohio was because I was seeking connections and support.

I was very, very lonely.

Today I’m writing less to singles and more to the other people who move in our circles. My message is simple:

Even though single people may come across as very independent, we need you.

Let me say that again: Married people, church people, co-workers, neighbors:

The single people in your life need you.

I cannot say that enough.

The importance of community

Since I’m a Christian and writing a blog that’s geared toward other Christians, I’m going to focus on the church today. I believe that this is one of the greatest failings in our church communities- the lack of hospitality.

 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12: 4,5

The Bible teaches us that Christians are unified through Christ. We are called “the body of Christ.” God’s plan is for us to walk together, especially those attending the same church. We are not intended to live isolated lives.

It has long been a mystery to me. Why have so few fellow church members reached out? I always wonder- do any of them even take the time to think about me? Do I- the single woman sitting by herself- ever cross their minds? Do I wear an invisible sign that says “stay away?”

Not one person has ever come over to my pew and asked if they could sit with me.

I have lived on my own for fifteen years. During that time I have attended three different churches, two in Illinois and one in Ohio. Throughout that period only seven church families have invited me out to lunch or into their homes. Of those seven, four asked more than once. And if I’m being completely honest, six of those families were in my first church, when I was a young adult.

Fifteen years

Seven families

That’s it.

Bear each other’s burdens…

Now, I will say this. While attending my first church I went through a very difficult financial time. There were many people that quietly helped me by anonymously giving gift cards and money, or by asking me to dog-sit for them and then paying me very well. They supported me in their way and I will always be grateful.

But I also longed for someone to walk beside me during that trial; someone that wouldn’t just give me a hug and walk away, but who would take the time to sit and talk through everything.

I just wanted someone who would help me not feel so alone.

Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

See, quality time is my love language. I describe myself as an extroverted introvert. I enjoy solitude and am recharged by it, but I also love good conversation and thrive on time well-spent with others. While I appreciate kind words and monetary gifts, your time is what I value most.

 Unfortunately, that seems to be a gift few people are willing to give.

We are all busy. I get that. There are so many things that seem to demand our time. It doesn’t eat up any time to sit next to a solitary person in church, though. It doesn’t take a lot of time to meet a person for coffee, or have them over for lunch.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. I Peter 4: 8, 9

This is a different post than I usually write, but writing about loneliness has put this topic on my mind. After reading about the effects of loneliness on a person I realized how important it is to practice hospitality. I share my personal experiences in an effort to help you see the lack of regard most singles live with.

My heart is here in this post. These are burdens I’ve carried around for a long time, questions that haven’t been answered. I share my experiences to make you think-

Why don’t more people in the church practice hospitality?

Why don’t you?

One of my favorite authors is Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She was single for fifty-seven years, but frequently writes about all of the Christian friends who became her family. In her book Adorned, she writes about the joy of being invited into other people s’ homes. She says, “This is where deep, rich friendships have been forged. This is where lives have been molded. This is where I have acquired ‘adopted’ parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren. This is where we have grown, shared, wept, repented, give and received grace, and rejoiced as we celebrated Christ together. At home.”

I can’t help but envy her when I read that.

God commands hospitality for a reason. We need each other.  The single people in your life need you.

This week, I’m thankful for the blessing of people who do open their lives to others. You are few and far between, but much appreciated. Together, let’s work on hospitality and keep celebrating every SINGLE blessing!

P.S. Don’t think I’m completely letting myself and other singles off the hook. Next week I’m going to flip the tables and write about ways we can practice hospitality. 🙂

2 Replies to “Single Life and the Lost Art of Hospitality”

  1. Carly, you make some excellent points. I experience the same issues as a single woman. It is very rare that a married couple or family would approach me with an invitation, even at church. That may be why I always gravitate towards singles groups or women’s groups at church. I always remember a woman at work invited me to Thanksgiving dinner with her family when I could not travel home to be with my family due to work. Unfortunately, that is the exception, not the norm.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Susan. My first church had a singles group, which was the center of my social life. But the church I’m at now doesn’t have any other singles, so it’s really hard to get to know people. Hopefully, this post will generate dialogue and more people will start to reach out!

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