If you’ve read my new book Broken Windows, you might wonder why Jordan is so rootless. Jordan, an adult M.K. from Taiwan, moves from Colorado to Idaho at the beginning of the book. Less than a year later, he’s contemplating another move, this time to Minnesota. Why can’t he settle down someplace in America? Or should he live with his parents in Taiwan?
My oldest daughter, Lisa, finished Bible college single and didn’t marry for six more years. She used her single years well, and now wants to share tips with others to help them through these challenging years. This article is written by her.
Holidays usually find me far from home and extended family. If my husband is working the holiday, my kids and I will be invited somewhere for dinner. By the time the dessert is done, I’ll get into deeper conversation with my hosts or one of their guests.
Before long, I notice puzzled expressions on their faces as they try to understand the person they discover as they talk to me. They wonder how anyone could be as root-less as I, the person who has, on average, lived in a different home for each year of my life. They wonder how a quiet, stay-at-home mom emerged from the world-traveling single woman that I was ten years ago.
I lived in four states and one foreign country between my graduation from college and my marriage six years later. It wasn’t that I planned it this way—how to squeeze the most adventure of out my singlehood. Rather, I was pursuing God and where He wanted me to serve, a path that included more changes in locations than I might have expected. It became an unconventional solution to an unconventional situation.
When I meet missionaries with teenaged children, they often ask me about that stage in my life. It’s hard for them to imagine being thousands of miles away from their kids. They hope their children will steer through their turbulent early-twenties without capsizing in the rapids of life. How did I make those transitions? Here are three things that helped me through those years:
1) Seek the blessing of your parents.
When I finished college, I had a small amount of college debt to pay off. Paying for airline tickets to return home would have cost thousands of dollars and, at the time, employment options for me in their city were bleak. But I discussed my options thoroughly with my parents and they prayed for me as I considered where to go next. That was a pattern that continued throughout those years. Whether I was considering housing, employment, roommates, or churches, I made sure that they were comfortable and supportive of those decisions. (This was easier because they granted some freedom and did not micro-manage my life.)
2) Become a part of a good church.
In each transition from one place to another, I always had a good recommendation for a Bible-preaching church in my new city. Usually, this meant that I or someone close to me knew the pastor of the church personally, as well as a few of the members. This helped me know what to expect about the Bible teaching and ministry philosophy of the church. I was able to attend these churches and make them my own starting with the first Sunday of my life in each new city. These churches became great places to learn, build friendships, find mentors and serve the Lord during my single years. Finding a good church and being actively involved is a great way to keep from getting lost-in-the-cracks of life far away from home.
3) Develop relationships with mentors and friends you trust.
Young people face many first-time experiences when they move away from home. Even if they want to follow the Lord and make good choices, they may need help evaluating the situations that come their way (i.e.: is this neighborhood a safe place to live, is this used car in reasonably good condition, is this job offer legitimate?) Having adults around that my parents and I trusted helped me to steer away from some less-than-ideal choices. They helped me to evaluate and navigate relationships with friends, roommates and the guys who showed a romantic interest in me. These families, couples and individuals provided homes away from home for the holidays and modeled Christian living for me.
During those years of multiple transitions far from home, I met my future husband. My life as a stay-at-home wife and mother is considerably less exotic than before. I’m thankful for the husband and children God has given me, but I don’t regret those single years. They gave me flexibility that allowed me to serve the Lord in ways a married woman could never do. During those years, I made moves to three different locations in order to fill short-term ministry needs in a church or missions organization. While I want to be open to God’s leading now, I realize that moving a family is much more challenging logistically and emotionally.
Being a single adult M.K. can be a blessing. If you are a single M.K., I challenge you to consider serving the Lord in ways that would be difficult after marriage, even if those options are unconventional. God has purpose in every season of life. Don’t miss the special opportunities that singleness brings while you are in that season of life.
[Image courtesy of Kanate Chainapong/Deposit Photos.]