Being 30 and single, I’ve received lots of advice from well-intentioned friends and family. The problem is that most of them married young and can’t relate to the struggles, thoughts and emotions that I deal with on a daily basis. After talking with Allison Flexer the author of Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman: Dispelling 10 Common Myths, I felt like I had finally found someone who could understand what was going on in my head and my heart. In her book, she discusses 10 myths we, as women, believe about our singleness. Don’t worry though, guys, I believe you too will be able to find encouragement in the Truth that Allison shares and that we would all be reminded that regardless of our marital status we all have worth and are deeply loved.
Holly Hrywnak: Allison, you were single until the age of 38. During that time, you must have received lots of advice. What was some of the worst advice or encouragement you had been given regarding your singleness?
Allison Flexer: Where do I start? I probably got most frustrated with people telling me I would find love when I stopped looking for it. I think it’s easy for married people to tell singles it will all be okay and that their time will come for love and marriage. It’s a lot more difficult when you’re the one waiting and unsure what the future holds. Usually, though, people aren’t trying to make us feel badly. I’ve found they want to help but aren’t sure what to do. When I was single, I tried to provide others tangible ways they could support me. For example, I would say, “I would love your prayers for me to rely on God while I’m waiting” or “I haven’t been on a date in a long time. Do you know anyone that might be a good match for me?” Those are hard things to say to our friends, but honesty and vulnerability are important.
HH: In your book, you list 10 lies single women believe about themselves and their singleness. Is there one lie in particular that stands out to you and that you find most women struggle with?
AK: The 10 myths I chose for the book were all lies I believed at some point in my single journey. We may not overly believe some of these lies, but they can affect us on a subconscious level. I didn’t walk around saying, “I haven’t been chosen so I’m not valuable.” However, my actions and choices sometimes reflected the lack of value I assigned to myself. Since everyone’s single journey is different, I’m not sure I can choose one lie above all the others. “Sex outside of marriage is okay” is a very prevalent lie in our culture, even within our church culture. It’s one we don’t like to talk about, and it was a difficult chapter to write. In the book, I talk about how sex is a good thing. God created it. But he also determined sex within the covenant of marriage to be the best outcome for his children. Though I knew some people would disagree with this stance, it was a topic that needed to be addressed. Also, it was equally important to cover God’s redeeming grace for the mistakes we have made.
HH: You’ve mentioned to me that singleness can be one of the ways God protects us. What type of protection does singleness provide for us and our hearts for this season?
AK: I thought I was ready to get married by the age of 25. I fell in love and was certain I would marry my then-boyfriend. That relationship ended in heartbreak, and I wrote about that event in the book. Looking back, I realize I didn’t have the emotional capacity and skills required for marriage at that point in my life. Certainly, some 25-year-old men and women are ready at that age, and I have seen many healthy marriages begin during that period of life. My journey was different. I believe God protected me (and possibly even prolonged my singleness) because I still had a lot to learn. I experienced a lot of healing during my single journey as I dealt with some issues from the past. I had time to work on myself while I waited. Sometimes the big heartbreaks in life turn to be acts of God’s grace if we look at them with the right perspective.
HH: As someone who is married, have your views on singleness changed at all?
AK: As a married woman, I’m more thankful for the single period in my life. My husband and I were both single for a long time, and we talk about how it makes us so grateful for each other. We don’t take our relationship for granted. Even on tough days, we know the grass isn’t greener on the other side. After almost a year of marriage, I also realize that singleness really is tough, especially in your thirties. I don’t want to minimize it just because I’m now married. Marriage doesn’t solve all your problems, but with the right spouse, life becomes easier and less lonely in many ways. I say that to encourage singles to keep looking for the right person and to urge them not to lose hope!
HH: In the back of your book, you’ve got a section called “Single Men Respond”– what insights or encouragement can you offer the men reading this interview?
AK: When I surveyed single men for my book, I realized that guys struggle with many of the same issues that we do, including self-image, feeling left behind when their friends all get married, and sometimes losing hope that they will find the right spouse. Just like with single women, I would encourage single men to find their value in a relationship with Christ first. Then, I would challenge them to be brave and ask a single woman out on a date!
HH: What advice can you give married people in how to deal with their single friends now that you’ve been on both “sides”?
AK: My advice to married couples would be to invite your single friends into your home. It’s great for singles to be around married couples, see how they interact, and be part of a family. Invite them to sit with you at church. Ask your single friends if they want to be set up on a blind date (if you know someone who might be a good match). Most of all, tell your single friends they are loved. Tell them there’s nothing wrong with them. And remind them how valuable they are, regardless of marital status.
HH: Many singles struggle between wanting to wait for God’s best for their lives and wanting to settle for any “good” person they find. When the wait for God’s choice seems difficult, what Truth should we remind ourselves of to keep us from settling?
AK: This is a great question and something I struggled with quite a bit when I was single. As time ticked by, I tried to force relationships to work with any “good, Christian guy” who asked me out. Deep in my heart, God always nudged me when I was trying to settle. The truth I would encourage singles to remember is this: God’s timing is not our timing, and his ways are not our ways (see Isaiah 55:8). Don’t let your own timetable get in the way of God’s beautiful plans. From personal experience, I know God’s plan is so much better than the plan I tried on my own for years. So, don’t settle. You are completely safe in his arms. You can trust God to show up in your life.