The Perception of Singleness And Its Effects on Identity
According to Restoration Therapy, a person's experience of love in her/his family of origin and other early experiences form his self-perception or identity.
- A person who receives treatment that is consistently warm and loving, communicating that she is unique, worthy, and desirable will form a positive self-identity.
- A person who does not experience consistent love will internalize the absence of love as a reflection on him. He will come to hold a negative, or pain-filled self-identity.
Single adults in church, on the other hand, oftentimes encounter a third type of perception:
As a single adult — especially in the church where marriage is so highly celebrated — not knowing how others perceive them can prompt feelings of insecurity in their identity. Ambiguity surrounding how a single adult is perceived by others can be problematic, leading to maladaptive coping that has negative relational repercussions.
Ambiguity and Singleness: How to Respond as a Church Community
Identity pain brought about by the ambiguity of how a single adult is perceived can lead to a powerful encounter with Christ. However, it's important to empathize with a single adult in their pain before challenging them to wrestle for their identity in Christ.
Caring for a single adult who is struggling to view him or herself from God's eyes, requires sensitivity and grace. It is important not to barge into someone's crucible quoting Scripture and expecting to "fix" that person. Better to enter slowly, on invitation, and join in that person's pain.
Only in knowing that someone really understands and validates our hurt are we desirous and willing to hear their words of exhortation. As you seek to minister to adults struggling with the issue of their singleness, acknowledging their pain enough to carry their burdens is an integral first step to begin healing.
Ministering to Singles at Church
Ministering to singles in your church can be a difficult and unbreached area. For support, expert insight and practical applications on how to go about this, check out the Singleness section in our free RelateStrong | Leadership Series eBook.