Single Riders: An Opportunity, Not a Stigma

Recently, James and I visited my cousin on the East Coast of Florida and enjoyed a day at the South Florida Fair. When I was a child, my parents had steered my focus toward the animals and educational aspects at the fair, so James decided I needed an introduction to the midway rides.

We enjoyed over half a dozen rides, but seriously, why do they all have to SPIN?

As we waited in line for the ferris wheel (much more my speed than some other rides), the attendant refused a little girl at the front. She slipped back through the line with her head down.

“He won’t let her go because she’s a single rider,” James said. “Here, why don’t I wait this one out so she can ride with you?” (Yes, my husband really is that nice.)

I spotted the girl as she walked up to a lady in a wheelchair and called out, “Excuse me, would she like to ride with my cousin and me?”

The woman smiled. “That would be wonderful. I can’t go on the ride, and they won’t let her ride alone.”

I waved the girl, who was maybe ten or eleven, back in line next to my cousin and me, and without a word, the attendant let her join us.

Responding to the “No Single Riders” Rule

I did an internet search on the “no single riders rule” at fairs, and honestly, couldn’t find much information about it. My hunch is that people cite it for “safety” reasons, but to that, I would point them to the single rider line at theme parks which seems to be a popular option.

Regardless, I’m not here to advocate against policies that a leadership team decided was in the best interest of guests. What I am suggesting is how each of us can make a difference one person at a time.

  1. See other people. We often get so absorbed in ourselves that we miss what’s going on in the lives of people around us. This ability to see others is something that attracted me to my husband. If we were at an event, he was the first to welcome the newcomer or the person standing by himself. That’s an example I want to follow.
  2. Empathize. There is a point in all our lives when we’re single riders. Whether we’re young adults, single, or newly single due to life circumstances, all of us have been that single rider at some point. Don’t forget what being alone feels like.
  3. Foster community. Whether at a state fair or in any other life setting, invite that single rider to join you.

I was a single rider for a long time and have many amazing friends who still are. My experience is that when you welcome the single rider, they’re going to bless you so much more in return. They have wisdom and experience you need. They can offer a more flexible schedule than you can. They can love others in incredible ways.

To My Single Rider Friends

If you’re a single rider right now, don’t let anyone make you feel that your status is a stigma. It’s an opportunity for you and for others to build community with all the different people who are riding this journey of life. My challenge to you today is to let others tug you into their circles.

Sometimes, it’s easy to develop a loner mentality, but whether we think we can sustain our own island or not, the truth is that we need others.

When I moved away from home to help some friends start their own business, I remember feeling very isolated. Each weekend, I tried church after church, looking for a place that had a young singles ministry. Time and time again, I was rebuffed. “We have a growing young marrieds class,” I was told. (Thanks, not helpful right now.) Or, “Our college ministry is booming.” (That’s great, but I’m not in college anymore.)

Feeling like I didn’t fit in could have made me withdraw, but instead, I became more determined. I did internet searches for a singles Bible study, and sure enough, I found one. It was led by three married couples who loved on us and invested in our lives, while also having a rich singles-led ministry team.

While married couples and families have a responsibility to welcome singles in need of community, single riders also have a responsibility to seek out and embrace relationships with others.

We need each other. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul craved time with his church families. He writes in his epistle to the Romans, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Romans 1:11-12 ESV)

Whether Paul was single or married at one point in his life doesn’t matter. (Scholars disagree.) The point is that Christian community is essential to growing in one’s faith and encouraging one another.

When singles and marrieds both do their part, we’re all better for it.

~ Kristen

If you’re a single rider right now, don’t let anyone make you feel that your status is a stigma. It’s an opportunity for you and for others.

You Don’t Have to Be Great to Start

New Years is typically the time of year people set health and fitness resolutions, but according to Forbes, the follow-through is pretty slim (under 25%). We’re approaching the half-way mark of 2019, and if you’ve already failed at a goal, I want to challenge you to start fresh.

Maybe my personal story will help you feel less intimidated by the idea of joining a gym or tackling whatever goal you have yet to reach. Although I have been a runner for about a decade now, I’ve never joined a gym. Personally, I prefer running outdoors over using a treadmill and have always enjoyed home workouts. These sometimes include an over-the-door pull-up bar and YouTube yoga videos, such as the ones by EkhartYoga and Yoga with Adrienne.

However, my husband enjoys the gym, so when we got married, we both agreed to share in each other’s hobbies. He runs with me occasionally, and I’ve joined a gym with him.

Though I didn’t actually say this thought out loud, I was pretty sure I was going to hate the gym.  Turns out, just the opposite is true. I only had to change my mindset. If I can, so can you.

#1: Get over yourself.

Ouch. There’s no sugar-coating that sentence. In other words, most of us tend to be self-conscious and worried that people are watching us. The truth is, of course, that they aren’t. They’re watching themselves, worried that we’re watching them. It’s a vicious cycle.

Although we may cite embarrassment or self-consciousness as the the culprits keeping us out of the gym, the real reason is pride. We don’t want people to think “less” of us. We don’t want to set ourselves up to look silly at something we’re not good at. On that note, let’s clear the air with the reality that no one is naturally good at anything. Even though we all have inherent gifts and abilities from God, unless we work to develop them, we’ll never excel.

The Bible tell us that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5b NKJV). Isn’t that a wonderful thought? He gives grace. We mostly think of that grace in terms of our spiritual shortcomings, but I believe God also extends His generosity into the ordinary, everyday parts of our lives.

So go ahead. Buy yourself a comfy and trendy workout outfit as long as you’re actually going to use it and not just lounge in it for Netflix marathons.

#2: Learn from others.

I’m a notorious people watcher, so maybe there is a tiny bit of truth that I might be watching you, if you happen to join my gym. The reason is not so I can poke fun at or envy you. On that note, comparison can be a subtle little monster, and we must avoid it like the plague. The Bible makes clear that comparing ourselves with ourselves is not wise in any pursuit (2 Corinthians 10:12.)

Instead, we should want to learn from each other. I’ve seen several ladies doing different free-weight workouts that have given me new ideas for my own. Interacting with other people, regardless of our location or activity, can inspire new creativity and ideas we otherwise wouldn’t have imagined.

#3: Do life with people.

Feelings of isolation and loneliness can turn even the most friendly of us into hermits. Maybe we feel as though we won’t fit in or belong. Whatever subconscious lies the enemy is feeding us, we must choose not to listen to them, because we need community. We need friends to help us get out of our comfort zones and try something new.

Accountability is a huge part of committing to and sticking with our goals.  Each of us might have different personal motivations, but regardless, we need friends and family who can be our cheerleaders and also keep us in check.

If you’re wanting to set new fitness goals, find someone who can help you work to meet them. Maybe it’s a gym buddy or a friend who can walk or jog with you. Even if you can’t train together every week, you can at least send friendly reminders and follow-ups to see if you’re both sticking with the plan.

At the end of the day, we must remember that we’re the ones who are ultimately responsible for our choices. Do we make sacrifices to meet our goals? Are we willing to plan accordingly? Or are we only content to work toward our goals if they’re convenient or feel comfortable? (Reality check: Meeting goals is rarely convenient or comfortable.)

At my gym, there are motivational signs peppered throughout the building. One of them caught my attention recently, and all it said was, “You don’t have to be great to start.”

The key is simply to start. As William Wordsworth so eloquently said, “To begin, begin.”

No excuses.

Kristen

I’m grateful this post first appeared on DailyPS.com.

Tweetable

You don’t have to be great to start. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Street Stewardship: Our Calling and God’s Commission

As some of you know, I moved at the end of last year. After the mad rush to pack, clean, shuffle, and then repeat, I’ve settled into a cozy little place. And a bit of complacency.

  • Do I really need to paint that room? Nope.
  • Can I live without a pull-down attic access? Yep.
  • Gutters? Maybe this summer.

There’s nothing wrong with catching a break from home improvement projects. There is, however, a problem with complacency in other aspects of stewardship.

Yes, stewardship. A home is a blessing, a burden, and an opportunity all wrapped in one. I’m not only responsible for my home itself but also for what surrounds it.

And I’m not talking about the fence that I may or may not get around to adding.

Beyond the survey flags and sidewalks are people. We call them our neighbors. But how many of us know them? How many of us care about them?

The Second Commandment

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22: 37-40

Jesus’ words to the lawyer in Matthew 22 aren’t just a metaphor for selfless living. They’re a mission for loving the people next door.

You mean the sweet ones, like the little girl and grandmother? Oh, the noisy ones, too? Yes, all of them.

My Bible study group is going through a five-week course on leading small groups in our homes, with the purpose of developing relationships with the people on our streets.

One of the resources we’re using is The Art of Neighboring by Dave Runyon and Jay Pathak. Through a simple exercise, the book opened my eyes to how many of us, myself included, have supported missionaries around the world but failed to take the great commission to our neighborhoods.

The exercise goes like this: Draw a grid, three squares high and three squares wide. Put your house address in the middle. Can you add the names of your eight closest neighbors to the surrounding boxes? Beyond that, do you know anything about them, beyond their names?

Not going to lie. I filled two squares, and six empty ones stared back at me. I’ve been in my house not even three months, but that’s still lame.

Who’s the man in the wheelchair with all the dogs? Why does he look so sad? Why does the lady down the street sit outside with an elderly gentleman? What are their names, their stories?

I don’t know, but I need to step outside my comfort zone and find out.

Conflicts

On this site, I focus on God’s calling—on my life and yours—and how we can think truthfully and live daringly to fulfill it. I talk a lot about books, simply because writing is one area I feel God’s hand on my life, and like many of you, I enjoy discovering quality books by other authors.

But what good is sharing books if we don’t put words into action?

We can’t fulfill our calling if we miss God’s commission. We can’t get so busy with our work that we forget the reason we’re doing it.

Closing Thought

Of all the homes I could have purchased (and tried to purchase), God led me to this one.

The reason has to be more than my own comfort and convenience. Who knows what hurting life I can reach? Who knows which lonely soul needs a friend? And who knows what blessing my neighbors will be to me if I just take the time to know them?

God, open my eyes to see—really see—the world just beyond my driveway and give me a heart to love my neighbors as myself.

Let’s start by praying for our neighbors. My Bible study is doing “prayer walks” in our neighborhoods where we simply pray for the people on our streets and opportunities for “open doors.” (It’s funny how often we use that expression but never in terms of our neighbors.)

Will you join me?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Street Stewardship: Our Calling & God’s Commission – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

We can’t fulfill our calling if we miss God’s commission. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)