The Illusion of Greener GrassFebruary 1, 2020
Other people's lives seem to be perfect on the outside. The truth is, no one is perfect. Lisa Anderson makes a challenge to reconsider your assumptions about how others live, and Katie Davis Majors tells her courtship story.
Other people's lives seem to be perfect on the outside. The truth is, no one is perfect. Lisa Anderson makes a challenge to reconsider your assumptions about how others live, and Katie Davis Majors tells her courtship story.
Michelle: Hey, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. Today, I have a non-traditional love story to share with you. Here’s Katie Davis Majors sharing how it all started.
Katie: I was so nervous, so I made dumb small talk the whole time; right? After about an hour, he was looking at his watch and he is like: “Okay! Well, this was nice. I think I’m going to go.” Then I just kind of blurted out some words that probably didn’t even make sense, like, “You know, I was thinking/I was wondering if maybe—do you want to like—we could spend more time together, you know, intentionally?” And finally, he said, “Like dating?!”
Michelle: We’re going to hear Katie Davis Majors’ love story, awkward moments and all. It’s going to be an encouraging FamilyLife This Week. Whether you’re single or married, we’re going to talk about relationships. Stay tuned.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. I have a married friend, who wants to understand me; rather, she wants to understand singles. I know that she wants me to understand the joys and pains that she faces, as a wife and a mom; but let’s be honest, there are times when she talks and all I hear is, “Wah, wah, wah wah, wah wah,”—you remember the teacher on the Peanuts cartoon; right? I’m sure that, when I’m trying to explain something about my life, she’s hearing the same thing.
I know you know what I’m talking about. Whether you’re single or married, we tend to be most comfortable and geared toward the world that we live in—you know, talking with the people or spending time with the people who are most like us and get us. But we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
I’m a single, and I work here at FamilyLife®; so I hear all the time what married people need, but what do single people need? For that answer, I’m going to turn to my friend, Lisa Anderson. She spoke at a recent FamilyLife® event for church leaders. Yes, she was talking to church leaders; but I thought that it was so good that everyone needs to hear what she had to say.
If you don’t know Lisa, she’s an awesome lady. She heads up the Single Adult Ministry for Focus on the Family®; and she’s host of the radio show, Boundless. One of Lisa’s passions is to help churches understand singles and also what needs to be in place to minister to them more effectively. I love the place that she begins—she begins with the gospel.
Lisa: I’m just going to kick through these really quickly for you—what I really feel are a few things that the church absolutely must do for single adults. The first one is a little weird, and it seems kind of obvious. I’m going to start off with it because I think it’s super-important and often overlooked; that is that the church has got to preach and apply the gospel.
Many people think of single adult ministries, and you think: “We’ve got to have bonfires!” “We’ve got to have bowling nights!” “We’ve got to have fellowship!” “We’ve got to go and give them a lot of practical applications for how to live their life and how to succeed.” But what we really need—and, honestly, what we all need if we just put ourselves all in this category—is to understand: “Who we are in Christ: ‘Who is God?’ ‘Who are we?’” If we could start there and understand that, we would be off to a great start.
To understand that God is truly sovereign and truly good is something we struggle with every day. Satan is constantly lying to us about this. The way it plays out for single adults is: “I’m not enough,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m destined to be rejected,” “No one wants me,” “I have too many problems.” It just plays out in so many different ways—and has in my own life. If we could solve the problem of identity in the church, we would probably solve about 85 percent of the things that end up being these skirmishes, and kerfuffles, and problems; you know?
Okay, I talk a lot about dating. Single adults: when you see singles in your church and someone’s mad because, “She’s dating him, and he said that he was going to date her,” and “What does this look like?”— everyone’s clamoring for attention, clamoring for being understood/being validated—it is because we are not believing that God is who He is and that we are who He says we are—identity! We have got to get back to the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it applies to our life, and how it is the foundation for everything that we are, and how we apply that to our daily experiences and the choices that we’re making.
The second thing we have to do is provide space for fellowship and community within our churches. This is—you know, I have a love/hate relationship with singles’ groups. I have been in many! I’ve been in small ones; I’ve been in big ones. It has run the gamut, for sure. The idea of them is necessary. You have got to have single adults, who feel like they have a tribe. Many singles, or folks who are single again, are in a church or in a community because they’ve had to move there for a job or for some kind of experience. Many of them are alone; they don’t know people.
You need people, as a single person, who are going to be that chicken soup for you when you’re sick; they’re going to be your ride to the airport; they’re going to kind of have your back; they’re going to be the people you socialize with. We’ve got to create that space for them so that they can have their own little tribe/their own little space within the church; it’s necessary. What we don’t want to do is make it only about them.
That said, one of the other things we have to do is provide those opportunities for cross-pollination: intergenerational ministry, multi-life stage ministry. Single adults need mentorship and accountability. We’ve got to start enfolding them—me—into your lives. What better place to do that than to have married couples, who are boots on the ground within the church, modeling great—and by great I mean realistic and healthy—marriages to people, who ultimately want to get there. For single adults, that’s about
90 percent of the population—90-93 percent of single adults want to be married or married again at some point.
This whole idea—even though, for the first time in U.S. history, we are a majority: single in our country—I’m not sure if everyone knows that, but it is true—power to the single people; we are now a majority. Most don’t want to be in that space; most don’t want to occupy that space long-term. What does that look like for us to acknowledge that and say, “Okay, what does it look like for married couples and others—older folks—in the church to enfold their single adults and the single-parent families into their lives?” That means: “What does it mean for you to speak into the lives of their kids? For you to invite them over, not just for holidays, but on any given Sunday as you’re walking through life—what does that look like?”
Accountability: we have got to have people in our lives who are up in our grill, telling us what’s what. As a single person, it is extremely easy for me to leave church on a Sunday, go home, and do whatever I want to do—listen to people sometimes; maybe not listen to people other times/take some great advice; reject advice. I don’t have someone in my face all the time, telling me what’s what. We’ve got to have accountability/mentorship within the church.
I think we also need to, in the sense of protection—we talk about protecting marriages a lot and what that looks like, and that’s absolutely necessary—but dysfunctional marriages tend to start with dysfunctional singles. Once we start growing and maturing the single adults in our church—and I’m talking/I mean, I talk a lot with 20-somethings/30-somethings in my role, but moving throughout the continuum—as someone has walked through a divorce, are we ensuring that they are growing spiritually through that? Are we ensuring that they are getting access to some great counseling if they need that? Are we ensuring that they’re not jumping into another relationship in three weeks after their relationship ends? What does it look like for us to have a protective arm around them in that sense?
I think we also need to—and this is kind of a weird thing I talk about a lot—one other thing the church really needs to do is honor both singleness and marriage. You’ll hear people here—I talk about my own boss, Greg Smalley; he uses this a lot:
Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage is to be honored by all,”—that includes single people. Like I said, this is whether or not you are in a relationship and moving toward marriage, or whether you are committed to celibate service and choose to never marry again, we are called to honor marriage; and what does it look like in that space?
I think, too often, we talk about marriage as if it’s like the flu: “It hits you like the flu.” I mean, I’ve heard some of the worst messages about marriage from people in the church, who are like—again, you get all the crazy platitudes, like, “Lisa, just be glad that you’re single instead of in a bad marriage.” Okay, well, obviously! Or you get the whole: “Just go on another mission trip. If you just go on another mission trip, you’re going to forget all about marriage. Don’t worry about it”; you know? Or “I wish I could be in your space, because you’ve got this great job; and you travel, and you do this, and you do that,” and “In your free time, could you lead our AWANA program; because I’m sure you’ve got tons of it!” [Laughter] It runs the gamut.
We all need understanding of one another. What does it look like to honor singleness without making it appear that single people—single parents/single others—are these super saints? Like let’s not be super singles and talk—you know, I think in the church, it’s like we’re so concerned about offending single people that we don’t say anything at all. We’re like: “Well, I don’t want to tread into any weird spaces, so I’m just going to act like that’s totally legit. Whatever they’re doing, I don’t want to speak into it. I’m certainly not going to address their love life, because that’s awkward”; so we choose not to say anything at all.
But on the flip side of that, we don’t want to completely ignore the fact that many of them do want to be married, and they want to be in that space. Honoring both of those is super helpful to do. Those who can do it well recognize that—as the family of God and as brothers and sisters in Christ—we have the privilege of honoring one another, and supporting one another, and encouraging one another in whatever stage of life we’re in.
Again, I tell this to my married friends—I’m like: “Yes, Jesus needs to be my number one; but He needs to be your number one, too; okay?” because singleness is not a waiting room for marriage. You’re not going to enter marriage and all your problems be solved; and you’re going to find Tom Cruise, and he’s going to complete you—you know, I have to say this to single people all the time.
A lot of times, as marrieds—you out there—want to kind of give some false hope to our single people, even saying to someone, who’s maybe been through a broken relationship: “Don’t worry! You’re going to find someone else.” We don’t know that; but we can promise them that God truly is going to be there with them and that you, hopefully, can as well; because you’re going to help them walk through.
Michelle: That’s Lisa Anderson. I appreciate Lisa so much and her perspective, because what Lisa was sharing helps up understand the people around us at church on Sunday and to remind each other that Jesus should be our number one.
You know, we all tend to think that the grass is greener on the other side. I’ve heard from my married friends that I have extra time to accomplish things; but I still have the same amount of time to grocery shop, mow my lawn, change light bulbs, clean the house, or go to work. Singles do have time, and freedom, and money—maybe a little bit more than what married people do—but if you’re married, I know your life isn’t perfect and many days you feel completely overwhelmed with kids and the house. To be honest, there are many times when I’m sitting at your table, sharing a meal with you and your family, and I feel like I’m on the outside, looking in on a picture-perfect snow globe. You heard me earlier: illusions/illusions!
My whole point in saying that is that we have a lot more in common than I think we think we do. We have houses to clean, clothes to wash, meals to cook; Jesus should be our number one for both of us. Quite frankly, He should be the one that both of us are excited to talk about; because He got us through those insanely difficult days just last week—you remember; right?
I got a little deep there; didn’t I? Okay, well it’s time to come up for some air; and actually, we’re going to have the epic love story of Katie Davis Majors coming up right after this break. So stay tuned. I’ll be back in two minutes.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been listening to epic love stories together. We’ve heard Tammy Trent’s tragic and beautiful love story, Elisabeth Elliot’s hilarious love story, and a few others. Of course, you can hear all of those; go to our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com—that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com.
Today, I want us to hear the love story of a young lady, who gave up everything. She was homecoming queen from a well-to-do family—privileged American girl. She gave that all up to move to Uganda. In just a few years, she ended up adopting many orphans. If this story is starting to sound a little familiar to you, you’ve probably read the best-selling book, Kisses from Katie.
Her love story has a different kind of twist and turn to it that might look a little bit odd as a happily-ever-after story. In some sense, her story is backward. One moment, she was homecoming queen from Brentwood, Tennessee; and less than a year later, she was loving on children in Uganda; but that’s not the path Katie initially wanted. Here’s Katie Davis Majors reading a journal entry from early on in her journey.
[Previous FamilyLife Today® Broadcast]
I never meant to be a mother. I mean, I guess I did—not right now, though—not before I was married, not when I was 19—not to so, so many little people.
Thankfully, God’s plans do not seem to be much affected by my own. I never meant to live in Uganda, a dot on the map in East Africa, on the opposite side of the planet from my family and all that is comfortable and familiar. Thankfully, God’s plans also happen to be much better than my own. You see, Jesus wrecked my life.
Michelle: Instant family but no husband. Katie willingly gave up her hopes and dreams in order to raise these girls.
What was interesting is that, when she was talking to Dennis and Bob—behind the scenes, God was writing a different journey; He was writing a beautiful love story. I want you to hear the love story that God wrote for Katie and Benji. She shared that with Bob Lepine and Dennis and Barbara Rainey not too long ago.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Bob: Did it dawn on you when you began the process of adopting—now, 13 children—that with each child you brought in, you were decreasing the odds that some young man was going to fall in love with you and want to marry you and your 13 kids?!
Katie: Yes, that did occur to me. It was a long process of prayer and wrestling with God of: “Oh, my goodness! In calling me to this, You might be calling me to not be married. I mean, that might be it!”
Dennis: You mentioned that Mother Teresa was kind of an idol of yours, growing up.
Katie: Yes, but I don’t think that that part was something that I admired. [Laughter] I mean, I always thought I wanted to be married one day. Through a lot of prayer and a lot of wrestling, going, “Okay; You know, this doesn’t just mean leaving family; this doesn’t just mean leaving comfort. In a lot of ways, it meant leaving dreams of what a little girl once thought life would look like.”
God has just been very gracious to me. He has put wonderful, wonderful people around me. We have a great community of support and friends who love us and take care of us.
Bob: “Well, and who knows? That guy might be out there”; right?
Dennis: “He might.”
Katie: “Yes, and I know and I trust Him.” [Laughter] You can say it—[Laughter]
Dennis: So he asked you out twice before you said, “Yes.”
Katie: He did! He asked me out a couple of times; both times I said, “No.” The second time, I really said firmly, “No.”
Barbara: Like, “Don’t-ask-again no”?
Katie: Like “Hey, I hope we can still be friends; but if we can’t, it’s okay. [Laughter]
Dennis: It was a “Dear John”; huh?
Katie: “But we can’t—we can’t do that; no. No thank you.”
Really, after that, I think I got to watch his heart on display a lot more; because I trusted that he wasn’t going to ask me out again. He was very respectful in that, so he didn’t really come over as much after that. He was still discipling a man that lived in the back of our yard, but he would come and go straight to Mac. He would spend his time with him, and he would leave. He would not come say “Hello,” to me; he would not try to make conversation.
I mean, I felt very respected in that—that he heard what I said, and he didn’t push the boundaries. I got to watch him and his heart for people and for service and, truly, for the gospel through that. He was also attending this large Bible study that we all went to on Wednesday nights. He often led worship or even led the teaching at that Bible study. I was so attracted to his heart for the Lord. I was telling my good friend—like: “Oh, my gosh! I think I like him, but now I can’t tell him; because he’s never going to ask!”—like: “He’s not going to ask me out again. There is no hope!”
I did—I had to call him and ask him if he would come over for coffee; and he said, “No.” [Laughter]
Barbara: He didn’t want to risk it again; huh?
Katie: Well, yes! I mean, I had said so clearly that I didn’t want to date him. What was he going to be doing having coffee with me? Why would you have coffee with a young, single female that wasn’t going to date you? [Laughter]
Barbara: Yes. [Laughter]
Katie: So I had to beg and plead a little bit: “No, please; I really need to talk to you about something important! Can you come? Can we just have a cup of coffee?” So he finally said, “Yes.”
Dennis: Oh, no! You’ve got to say—
Barbara: And he said—
Dennis: What happened over the cup of coffee?
Katie: Well, then, I was so nervous; so I made dumb small talk the whole time; right? After about an hour, he was looking at his watch; and he was like: “Okay! Well, this was nice. I think I’m going to go.” Then I just kind of blurted out some words that probably didn’t even make sense—like, “You know, I was thinking/I was wondering if maybe—do you want to like—we could spend more time together, you know, intentionally?”
Barbara: Real coherent, right? [Laughter]
Katie: Right, exactly!
And he was just kind of looking at me, and finally, he said, “Like dating?!” I said, “Well, yes.” And he said: “Um, okay. I’m going to pray about that.” And he left! [Laughter]
Dennis: He didn’t go for the bait!
Katie: What I didn’t know at the time—which was, amazingly, the Lord’s provision and just further confirmation that we both really were trying to seek after Him—was that he had been in conversation earlier that week with some of his supporters in the States about whether or not his time in Uganda was coming to a close. He felt like he had pretty effectively discipled these 30 men. They were all kind of going out into the world and starting churches and discipling other young men. He felt like: “Okay, I could kind of take under my wing another group; or I could just keep in touch with this group via Skype and internet. Maybe my time here is coming to a close.” He had been in conversation with people about whether or not he was moving back.
When he got my phone call asking him to come to coffee—what I didn’t know when he said, “I need to pray about this,”—was this was a much bigger decision than, “Am I going to date this girl?”
Katie: This was a decision, for him, of, “Is there more of life for me in Uganda right now?”
Dennis: And so, how long did you date?
Katie: Probably almost a year from that point until we got engaged, and then we were engaged for about eight months.
Dennis: Time out; how did he propose?
Katie: Ahh, it was so sweet! He actually—he’s such a good dad! He took all of the girls out for ice cream earlier in the week. He had just said to me—and he would do this sometimes—he would say, “I’m going to take the girls out to eat,” or “I’m going to take them down to the river to play for a little bit so that you can get some quiet.”
He had taken the girls out for ice cream and took them over to his house, actually, and sat them all down and said: “I would like to propose to your mom. What do you think about that?” They all gave feedback, and then he let them help him plan—
Barbara: How sweet!
Katie: —how he would propose to me.
Barbara: That’s so sweet!
Katie: He showed them the ring.
Barbara: Oh, so sweet!
Katie: And he let them—he let it be a family affair. I just love that he knew my heart well enough to know that I would have felt like something was missing if they hadn’t been a part of that.
Actually, our best friends came to babysit the girls; and he took me back over to his place. There was a picnic laid out; his yard’s kind of on the edge of the lake that we live nearby, and he proposed. Then, as soon as I said, “Yes,” all of our girls came running out of the bushes. They had watched the whole thing! [Laughter]
Barbara: Oh, how sweet! I love it!
Katie: They were so excited, and they had picked flowers, and they were throwing them on us. It was so sweet!
Michelle: Katie and her husband Benji live in Jinja, Uganda. They are parents to their 15 children—13 daughters and 2 sons.
Kind of ironic, isn’t it, just how God works? His ways are not our ways—just as I was talking about last week from Isaiah 55:8-9: “My thoughts are not your thoughts.” Of course, that’s God speaking: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways My ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” We can’t know the mind of God or how He weaves our journeys. Some of our journeys take us on roads that, initially, hurt and they cut deep. His best is always best.
Coming up next week, we are going to talk about how to use our words and effectively communicate. Rob and Gina Flood are going to be here, talking through the tools of communication. I hope you can join us for that.
Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Bruce Goff. Thanks to our producers, Marques Holt and Bruce Goff. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
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