Have you ever thought about why you feel different ways about your children or men and women after a certain age?
I have – mostly because of the stigmas I’ve been placed under. In the church, many stereotypes have been placed around singles and single young adults. Spending my twenties as a single, young woman in the church – where there were many single boys, but not men, I encountered quite a few obstacles. Let me backtrack and tell you a little about myself.
My name is Alycia Johnson and I am the CEO of Tirzah Ministries (www.tirzahmag.com). When I was in my early twenties, I walked into a mega-church and found there wasn’t really a place for me. There was a young adult group plagued with many broken & hurting young adults looking for a place to find healing. I didn’t have that story though. At the age of 23, I had my Master’s in Social Work, parents highly involved in my life, my own place, and my first job as a social worker. Immediately, I was stigmatized for NOT being a victim and pulled into a cycle of what has been called in church terms “an orphan spirit”.
Many young adults in the church face that – they’re hidden in a corner of only young adults or told they’re at church seeking marriage. After spending years and hours with single people & young adults in the church, I found many were seeking real, quality relationships, community, and Godly examples. To the parents of young adults, embrace where your children are at and don’t ask them to do what previous generations did. Yes, marriage is good and holy – but don’t overemphasize it. Pray for your child and that God would bring the right person into their life. Encourage and support them in their jobs and callings. Keep including your children in your life and allow them to live with you. The Bible says “It is not good for man to be alone” and that doesn’t just mean the context of marriage.
For me and many of the girls in Tirzah, we faced a struggle – daughters raised the right way. Showed up at church every Sunday, but the amount of Godly young men has significantly dwindled. Single by circumstances – not by choice. These women I have spent years serving have served so many others. They’ve run a magazine all volunteer and paid with their own money to support other women across the world. I’ve encountered women who are serving on the mission field, in youth ministries, becoming lawyers, journalists, business owners, and social workers. All while still serving in their church and serving their families.
The biggest problem they have faced is feeling a lack of protection from the leadership and families in the church. If you are a young adult woman’s daughter, teach her not to meddle in the affairs of men. Teach her to keep pursuing her own dreams and allow the right man to pursue her.
The story of Tirzah is found in the book of Numbers (27:1-11) and is so relevant to this generation. It’s the tale of the five daughters of Zelophad. Their dad died and there were no men to inherit the land. The daughters went to Moses and asked if they could have their dad’s land. Moses changed the law from that moment on that women could inherit the land and houses. A national law was changed because these women knew they were daughters of the King and they inherited the land. Isn’t that so amazing that this ministry, Tirzah Magazine, started a few years before Roe v. Wade was overturned?
I always encourage young women with the ending of Tirzah – Numbers 36:11. After the girls had established their places, they ended up marrying. Those women brought something special into their marriage with everything they had learned and worked on throughout this process. Encourage your young adult women and invite them to be a part of the community. We have a Facebook group called Tirzah Sisterhood with monthly Bible lessons, discussions, and challenges. All are free of charge. In my own story, I found a place in the church and it wasn’t because of a spouse, singles group, or young adults group. It was through a spiritual family (although I hope to have a family of my own someday).
A family a few years older than me saw me alone and invited me to do life together. The man stepped in when I encountered boys that hadn’t learned to be men yet. The woman embraced me, invited me to dinner, and served everywhere she served in the church. Because of our relationship, I have learned how to better prepare myself for marriage and not allow men to behave like boys. I would not trade those years with that family and their children for anything in the world – even a younger start to my own family.
Maybe you don’t have young adult children or yours have started families of their own, consider Titus 2.
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the word of God.
6 Similarly, encourage young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”
I encountered an equal amount of boys in the church and the one thing they had in common 90% of the time was coming from a home with an absent father or mother. They couldn’t understand how to treat me and other women. A family that already had kids of their own could be instrumental in their lives. That doesn’t mean inviting them to live with you – rather inviting them to your family outings, dinners, and pew at church. Mothers – invite the single young adult woman to assist you with her child or serve alongside you. Encourage your husband to do the same thing.
Next time you see a single person or young adult alone in a church, don’t let them leave that way. That’s what we want to see at Tirzah. Generations coming together to build a church where male and female, young and old, and single and married are all welcome in the Kingdom of God.