Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On Being Single

It was about 10:30 PM on a Friday night. The main street was bustling as everyone was just beginning to leave their houses to go out, eating and visiting. Again, I had another epic yet “to be expected” encounter with a taxi driver. He wouldn’t listen to my directions—the ones I know “work” because I’ve memorized them from an Arab. He wanted to chit-chat with me [no, sir] and offered to take me to his house to visit with his two wives. [Ugh.] Frustrated and annoyed, I get a little sassy and pay him the exact fare, as he dropped me off about 5 “American blocks” from my desired destination. [Thanks, dude.]

I decide to delight in the opportunity to get to walk outside at night, something that doesn’t happen unless THIS happens. I put in my one working earphone on my little iPod shuffle and listen to the sweet sounds of some old-school Caedmon’s Call. We weren’t even on the chorus yet and I was already being followed. By a guy in a white Toyota van—ya know the one I’m talking about? The totally stereotypical “Middle Eastern” van? I pay him no attention and note that I’m alone on the dark side street. No shebab [youth males] are even out to… “protect me” [what? My neighborhood shebab love me.] There’s only one street light on. He does the classic follow behind and then speed up, rolling down his window to make kissing sounds and talk to me. I read the side of his van: Mohammad’s Plumbing Services.

This continues the whole way home, me ignoring him and him driving at 1mph to tail me. Eventually, I glare in his direction, hurl some [pathetically structured] insults and watch as he gets excited about how I’m showing a little life now. I definitely don’t want him to know what building I go into but I was just about home. In God’s sweet protection and provision, the bottom floor of my apartment building is a dukan [a little food/convenience shop—a gas station without the gas]. I walk up the stairs and am greeted by my three main men in the building, who take care of the place and subsequently… me. They only know “Helloooo” and “One, two, three” in English. So I say, in Arabic, “He is no good. He is my problem,” [Arabic’s hard…], and point to the guy waiting in the white plumbing van outside on the street. My three guys jump off their white plastic chairs and race outside, yelling at this man. All I heard was “shame on you!”, “American”, “blonde” and “good girl.” The rest, I’m sure, were bad words I’m not allowed to know.

The guy drives off, quickly realizing that he chose the wrong Shagra to follow, that I did have some male protection and that he did just waste 20 minutes of his night. I was exhausted and my guys could tell that. I sat and had some tea with them before going up to my apartment. I thanked them incessantly and they wished Allah’s protection on my life always. Sweet men.

I know, this makes my life seem so dramatic. But really, this is a story I wouldn’t even really share with friends in the ME—just because it’s “too everyday-ish.” This stuff happens all the time. And we just deal with it. I mean, when I noticed him following me, I just rolled my eyes and my temper flared up since I hadn’t fully recovered from being upset with my lazy taxi driver. When I talk to my married friends they say, “Oh, I just call my husband and he meets me outside and yells at the guy,” or does whatever the situation calls for. Well, guess what? I don’t have one of those—a husband.

I get to fight these fights by myself. Often, Father sends me men who can help, but ultimately, I’m alone in this.

And what makes me laugh is that married women look at me, with big, round eyes, filled with tears, pitying me that I don’t have a husband—especially for a night like this. Haha. No, I don’t have someone to fight for me. No, I don’t have someone to come home to and tell what happened in my day. [Instead, I blog.] And no, I don’t have someone to walk with me and avoid situations like this in the first place.

But I see it as God’s goodness to me right now:

  • Other people are blessed by the time and energy I have to give them because I don’t have a husband or kids to be home for.
  • I get to experience so many other families and friends because it’s just me—it’s easy to bring along just one more person into their families of 8… or 15.
  • I’m forced to learn how to ask for help, trust other people and navigate “community.”
  • He’s the one Who fights for me, protects me, provides for me…

It’s good for me to be single… let me be single. :)
No, I don't hate men—I adore them. I’m just not partnered with one right now.
Today, let me, and whatever single women around you, find delight in His perfect plan.
Remind us that we are useful and valuable to Father’s Family as His single daughters.
It’s not a pity—it’s great.
Just because it’s just hard sometimes, doesn’t mean it’s not Good.
I really just want people to “walk with me.”


  1. This is great stuff, Sarah. I can't believe you don't have a bazillion comments on this particular post. I love your perspective, your stories, and your voice. I'm so glad you are still here to show us the other side of the world and another side of being a woman of the harvest. Blessings!

  2. Oh, Sarah, this scares me but DOES show me a new way to pray. I am praying now as I sit in YAKS. I will tell Marty to read this, too. Lo should!

  3. haha. Yes. I know this experience, having lived in the Middle East three years. I bless you with supernatural courage and invincibility as you continue to make a way for more freedom and healthy independence for women in the Middle East. It matters greatly to heaven that you are willing to believe the Father's leading in your life even as a single woman in the Middle East. History will remember you and the future will thank you. MUCH love.

  4. Thank you for expressing clearly how a single woman can love her singleness & desire for others to "walk with her!"

  5. SO good. SO true! I love hearing this story... And though its not nearly so crazy in the Philippines, I can identify. Except that, at the end of the day, I have a house-full (12) of single girls to come home to who have been through the same thing! But thank Jesus for where He has us in each season! I am thankful for the times when the heart of a father rises up in a man who desires to protect me. I know it is ultimately my Father in heaven who send them! I am thankful for the LOVE that the Lord has shown me in my walk with Him. I wouldn't trade these single years for anything! I will delight in my Lord all of the days of my life! No matter what the season!

  6. "OTHER" comments:

    -Well said, you have caught the tension of what we single women feel like living here...thanks for sharing my dear friend!
    -as your mom, I would like to go clobber the plumber man, but it wouldnt be enough.....again, only you get yourself (willingly and not so willingly) into these spots and He takes care of you...you are blessed...more than you will ever know!
    -I'm sorry you girls have to deal with this. Father is good to you, but I'm still grieved and angered by this. It reminds me to pray. God is good.
    -love it. love it. love it. thanks for sharing :)
    -Such great insight! Thank you for sharing!!!
    -Thank you for sharing this you are doing a mighty work!
    -thank YOU for sharing....as always it right when I need to hear it on days where its not easy. love you.

  7. JJ: I had a million comments on other sites/other people's profiles who reposted. Yeah, I get a little sad sometimes when people don't comment. Maybe you can write a blog to ME about how not to lose heart. 5 comments, but almost a 1,000 hits... people are reading, so that's all that matters, right? ;) But thank you deeply for your sweet comments and encouragement. I love having a place to tell my "old" stories that have so shaped my life right now. :)

    Mimi: Don't worry--I wasn't scared, just annoyed. God's my Protector. :) And remember--I'm here to tell the stories, so everything's ok! Thanks for praying for my lady friends in the ME!!

    USDB: What's up, girl?! Thanks for reading. I'm not crazy, right?! Right! :) Appreciate your encouragement--go get it, girl.

    Carrie: Thank you! Hope I can give you some words to help others understand! :)

    LB: You live with 12 girls? Uhhh.... God bless you. I am so thankful for men, too. God guides them and loves us through them. Glad to hear your joyful heart. :)

    :) Thanks for reading. Mom, don't tell Dad.

    Much love to you, friends.
    Thanks for reading and walking with me & many, many others.


  8. I hadn't had a chance to sit and read this until now. Thank you for sharing so openly how you feel. I pray for you often and I can't wait to here more of what God is doing in the lives that you get to encounter.

  9. I just had to comment and say I love this post (and your blog). I spent 9 mo in Iraq and yeah, being single is advantageous but pretty "special" at the same time :) Do you plan on going back?

  10. Steph--can I call you that? ha. Thanks for praying!! It's much needed and appreciated. Keep up your good work! :)

    Vobis Ego Ago... is this Latin? :) Iraq? Holler! haha, I love how you write "special"... haha. Thanks for reading! Be encouraged and share with your friends! And... I can't wait to go back--just waiting on His timing and certain opportunities. :)



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