5 Ideas for Showing Love to Single Adults

It can be hard to interact with people who live different lives than we do. As a single adult in a church that cares deeply about the marriage and family, I know many single adults who feel like their married friends, family, and church leaders are critical of their lives, hyper-focused on their single status, or insensitive to their unique experiences. I also know many friends, family, and church leaders that believe single adults are too defensive, not motivated, too comfortable and oh-so-distracted. There is truth in all of this.

This disconnect between single adults and married adults in the church has troubled me. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife is a mormon therapist who has written about this topic. She sums it up well:

When marriage is an essential achievement of earth-life, single adults represent an aberration from our theological ideal. If one doesn’t get married (whether by choice or lack of opportunity), and marriage is the desired state, it is very easy to treat singles as though they are in a prolonged adolescence, in a holding pattern, waiting patiently to arrive at true adulthood, for their lives to truly begin.

I would add that it is very easy to feel as if we are in a holding pattern. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. When we or others see us as though we are not whole people if not married, it causes unnecessary pressure, obsessive focus on marriage, and undermines our ability to serve and minister to others — all of which detract from the main goal of marriage itself.

No doubt this is a complex issue and one that I certainly haven’t completely resolved. However, in my own struggle to make peace with my current life and the married life I hope to live one day, I’ve noticed one thing that helps immensely to bridge this disconnect between married and single adults. A member of my church stood up once in front of our congregation and boldly declared that in spite of her “issues” all she ever wanted was to “feel loved and not judged.” Don’t we all want to feel that way?

So… how do we show love and not judgment? Here are some ideas that have helped me most as I interact with my friends and family.

Sincerely Ask About Their Life
Show genuine love and concern for the whole person, not just about their single status. Ask them about their hobbies, their friends, their job, their church experience. Ask questions that start with “Tell me more about… “ or “What’s your experience with…” or “How do you feel about…” Above all, show love. If you show your sincerity, they’ll likely talk to you about every aspect of their life… but only if they feel loved and not judged. This takes time. Especially if there’s previous hurt or frustration. Don’t give up! In your busy life, you might not have time for a deep conversation. Once while visiting my home ward, a family I barely knew passed me a note across the aisle, delivered by their 4 year-old boy. It said, “Lindsay – we’re so glad you are here – the Davis’ are big fans of you!” It’s been at least 4 years, and I still remember how I felt when I received that note.

Show Confidence In Them
Whether or not they share their life with you, try to find a way to show love and confidence for them. We all want to feel significant, important, valued. That we matter. I once heard Steve Young speak about his own search for marriage, and the rare opportunity he had to meet with several senior church leaders, seeking their advice. He eagerly anticipated each meeting but over the course of several years, he began to notice that their advice generally include the same two phrases no matter what their experience or authority on the topic. They would listen intently. Then, inevitably they would respond with some version of 1) “We love you.” and 2) “Good luck!” In my experience, that’s infinitely better than any dating story or marriage advice.

Find Things In Common
One way to show love and not judgment is to find things in common. It’s easy for us to get obsessed with ourselves. Share with us your own feelings and thoughts and life experiences. The reality is that our lives are more alike than different. And the private struggle you feel in marriage is no less a struggle than the one we bear alone. We hardly remember this. Remind us of the challenges you face and the human in us will respond. Whether married or single, those who are happiest find “all things common” among their family and friends.

Be an Example
A million times better than talking about marriage is seeing a marriage worth emulating. Great marriages seem easy to talk about, but hard to do. So when I see couple having fun, solving problems, loving each other, showing kindness in little things – that makes me want to get married more than anything! Show us why it’s worth it. With declining marriage rates, and increasing dysfunctional relationships, it’s imperative that we find good examples of marriage and family from which to set our sights on.

Pray for Them
Once, a friend of mine (who happens to be married with four kids and a busy job) emailed me and told me he was praying for me. I had to hold back the tears while sitting at my office computer. Not only did he take the time to ask me about my life, but he also asked God about my life. That meant the world to me. If you care enough about them, care enough to ask God “How would thou have me interact with thy son or daughter?” Because he loves both of you, God has double the reason to answer that type of prayer.

In Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegnar sums up the feeling of being loved and not judged in a simple backward glance: “Our necks craned for a last look at the people who above any other two on earth made us feel good, wanted, loved, important, and happy.” I’m forever indebted to the family and friends that make me feel this way.

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Manly Qualities: A Tribute to Andrew Marshall

IMG_3589I met Andrew 7 years ago and have been following him around ever since. We live parallel lives. Not only do we share similar beliefs and hobbies, but we share the same educational background and career—we live in similar worlds while even sharing the same desk space. Six years ago, I wrote a paragraph about why I admired him. Since then, I’ve seen him engaging in academic debates, consulting with federal clients, supervising new employees, presiding over his congregation, teaching his children and going on dates with his wife. You learn a lot about a person when seeing them in such different environments. And since it was his birthday last Saturday, and I feel it’s time to give him a proper tribute. What do I admire about Andrew? He is:

  • Authentic. He loves Pixar, biking, and musical theatre; has little interest in sports; cares a ton about his family and church; and rarely consumes pop culture. Andrew makes everything more fun by being true to his creative side. He is who he is– a man without guile, who helps you feel more comfortable in your own skin. People are drawn to him. He shares his interests freely and owns up to what he doesn’t know. If you looked up the word ‘humble’ in the dictionary, you’d probably find a picture of him.
  • Loyal. Whether it be God, family, friends, or employer, Andrew decides what he cares about and is unwaveringly loyal. He’s there. He’s all in. I’ve seen him keep commitments to his wife to be home for dinner, to a friend to help with their move, to a client to submit a proposal, or to his church responsibilities – even when he’s exhausted, busy, or both.
  • Compassionate. Andrew cares deeply. This shows up most in his family life—the minute you start asking him about his children, you can see the great love he has for them. But it doesn’t stop there – Andrew thinks a lot about others, gives them the benefit of the doubt, and actively supports those around him. He once sent me an email saying that he prayed for me. That simple act of compassion meant the world to me. I’m sure he’s prayed for hundreds of people over the years.

Andrew knows who he is, what he values, and what’s important to him. Then he acts according to that knowledge. I can think of no higher compliment and I aspire to be like him. Happy birthday to one of the greatest humans I know.

another happy birthday post

Apparently it takes a lot for me to post on this blog of mine. Not only must I have a strong feelings about a particular subject, but I also need the patience to write, and I need extra time to justify posting vs. the many other things I should, could, or would be doing right now. Most importantly, I should feel that the subject is worthwhile and may have some type of impact for good (many subjects I feel strongly about but don’t necessarily translate to useful information or motivation blog posts). Today is a lucky day because the stars are aligning and all three of the above criteria are met.

Another thing you might have noticed if you are actually a consistent reader on this blog, is that I love talking about other people. Today is no exception. I dedicate this post to one of my newest greatest friends: Jarilyn Cox. I say newest because I didn’t know Jar pre-MPA program and it still kind of shocks me that really great friends can be developed past the 7th grade. Is not the phrase ‘BFF’ only reserved for those who you grew up with? Thank goodness it’s not because I sometimes surprise myself at the number of people I call my best friend. I think we’re up to at least 37 now. Roughly.

No really though, Jarilyn is definitely one of my best friends. Let me list (who doesn’t like a good list?) a few reasons why:

1. Jar is up for anything anytime. She makes things happen. You want to go to London, England or Vernal, UT? She’ll have it organized in a day and a 1/2. You want to go hiking or to disneyland for the weekend? She’ll have the sandwich’s ready and plans made within 20 minutes. She decided to go to Paraguay for the whole summer, made the decision within a day or two, and never looked back once. It’s quite amazing to watch for indecisive people like myself. This girl is a mover and a shaker.

2. Jarilyn loves sports. Oh man. I don’t know very many females that play Volleyball, Tennis, Racquetball and Ultimate Frisbee all in one day. Nothing can come in the way of her playing time. She loves byu sports and we’ve been regular attenders over the last year. She has also been the best racquetball partner I’ve ever had. So much fun.

3. Jarilyn is so much fun to be around. She uses hyperboles almost every other sentence. It makes things REALLY exciting. Everything is all of a sudden 7 billion hours long, or 6 million people were there. Her facial expressions add to the excitement. You can’t help but laugh and smile when Jarilyn is around.

4. She is SOOO easy to make fun of. From technology to dating, Jarilyn is an easy target. Unfortunately, I totally took advantage of this throughout the year. What ever you do Jar will NEVER switch to gmail (and she probably won’t even read this blog). We had a gazillion great laughs about it though, right Jar?

5. Finally, Jar is incredibly consistent. When it comes to friendship, this is the best attribute. Jar is so willing to help, to listen, and to just share your burden. She likes what she likes and is not at all swayed by the whims of trends or others opinions. When Jarilyn commits – she’s 110% committed.

If you can’t tell, I really love this girl and already miss spending 15 hours a day together. Happy Birthday Jar!

One of the Best

One of the many things I will continue to focus on (remember this?) with this blog will be people I love and admire. Inspiration comes from Everybody Has A Story portion on CBS News. It also comes from my father who is notorious for building people up and putting them on the spot by talking about all their most desirable qualities and achievements. But mainly–  I just feel incredibly amazed by the people around me.

Raymon is no exception. He happened to turn the big 2-6 this past week and is looking forward to his 27th year being his best yet. I have come to appreciate Ray in so many ways but here are just a few qualities that I think we can all learn from.

1. commitment. When Ray is in, He’s in. You know you can count on him to follow through with anything he commits to – religion, education, jobs, and especially in relationships– he’s totally devoted.

2. preparation. if preparation precedes power (and i do believe this), then Raymon is the most powerful man i know. He is always prepared and ready for what’s to come ahead. This is truly a divine attribute.

3. disposition. this word automatically makes me think of “a disposition to do good continually”. Ray definitely has this type of disposition but I think people are most drawn to his good natured attitude and pleasing disposition. Raymon has a LOT of friends who love being around him because he is consistently happy and so much fun.

Do you know anyone like this? Let’s all be more grateful for the Raymon’s in our lives.

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?

my relationships with others are the most important part of my life.

i’d like to comment on the essential need and desire to have good friends in our lives. Not just good friends, but friends who listen, who care, who lift us and push us to greater heights. Friends who know when to let you cry, know how to make you laugh, and who know when to just sit and and let you think for awhile. Basically just friends who love and show that love.

I have such a friend. In fact, I have many of these friends. But the one whom I spend the most time with recently has been my dear roommate Catherine. Any who know this friend of mine will quickly agree how fun and witty and intelligent catherine is. While she is most certainly ALL these things (and many more), I’d like to point out some lesser known attributes of catherine. Here are five inherent qualities and reasons why I’m so grateful this gal has become one of my very closest friends:

#1: genuine
cath does not guard or second guess what she thinks or feels. her actions and words are genuine displays of her feelings.

#2: dedication and devotion
i don’t know many people that feel such a deep commitment and devotion to her beliefs and values. this is the mark of a true friend.

#3: real companionship
catherine spends her time developing real friendships. ANY situation is much more entertaining and meaningful if catherine is with me. as we’ve become better friends, it’s been a beautiful thing to watch how sensitive she is to my feelings, my needs, and my desires. everyday she, unknowingly, pushes me to become a better person.

#4: spontaneous desires and actions
as a dedicated (and obsessive) planner, i’ve grown to love her uninhibited and impromptu desires and ideas. cath is fun. so much fun.

#5: love of beautiful things
catherine is attracted to beauty of all kinds and is constantly inspiring me to immerse myself in nature, music, and great literature. by constantly immersing herself in what she is drawn to, she encourages others to “seek after these things”.

my new quest is to be this type of friend in every relationship throughout my life.

Skinneriffic

Happy Birthday to a great friend who is a intelligent, witty, insightful, fun, intriguing, handsome, and… a little quirky (notice the two inch gap between us? no hugs allowed). After 6 years – I honestly consider this guy one of my great great friends. Happy Birthday Skin. You deserve a good one.