Rebekah's Story: An Abundant Life

“I found Calvary pretty soon after I moved here,” Rebekah Reichard says. “Once I got connected to my first Life Group, that made a huge difference. That group was phenomenal because it was all singles and we were kind of in it together. We were all a bit more seasoned, not just out of college, and people were just walking through things that I knew I was about to go through. That was huge.”

“But that group transitioned after a couple of years. People weren’t available, some got married. And after 6 months out of a group, I could feel it, this need for community. I was missing the fellowship but feeling like there was no other group that I really fit in. So I was praying, ‘Lord, I feel like I’m supposed to be in a Life Group, but I don’t think I can just show up at the Life Group Launch and go, “Where do I fit?” If you want me in a group, you’re going to have to provide it.’ Of course he did because he’s amazing.”

Unsuspected Idol

“Things are different now as a single woman who is 32, almost 33. I love my friends. I love my Life Group, which is made up of married couples with children. But I don’t have many single friends anymore. I miss having somebody understand what it’s like to be in the middle of my life and feel like I’m not where I thought I was going to be. That’s hard to understand if you’re married, especially if you married young.”

“Relationship status is a good bonding tool just like any other commonality in life. When I meet someone in a Sunday service who is not married, it’s like ‘You’re single? Me too! Tell me about yourself, tell me your story.’ But one thing I realized when I joined this small group was that I was using singleness too much as an identifier. I was jumping into the group willingly but thinking I wasn’t going to have anything in common with these women. We were women. We went to Calvary. What else could there be? No! We’re daughters of the King! We’re all trying to follow the Lord together.”

“There were other commonalities, other ways to connect besides relationship status. Realizing that was life-giving for me. Maybe my identity was so solely rested on my lack or my place in life that I was missing other places where I could relate to people. I’m super passionate about singles maximizing this time in our lives and seeing the Lord’s hand is sovereignly over these moments. (He wastes nothing!) I’m a champion for more singles programs in the church. But I also realize there’s such value in seeing that our differences aren’t boundaries.”

“God did a work in my heart and showed me singleness was kind of an unsuspected idol. I’m not trying to hold on to it, but in my effort to deal with it, to work through it, to process it, and to support others in it, it became one of my biggest identifiers.”

Redefining Abundance

“I grew up in the 90s and 2000s purity culture. I didn’t realize it until I was truly, fully on my own that in my brain, there was this formula: follow the rules + go to church + maintain a chaste, pure life = the Lord will provide a perfect husband and happy marriage. Purity culture was kind of pushing that in order to get all of us to fall in line, but I got to my big girl adult life and I’d followed the formula, where was my answer?”

“And that’s when I realized that formula isn’t in the Bible. That’s not what the Lord promises. He promises his fellowship. He promises his grace and peace. He promises an abundant life. But I don’t get to define that abundant life.”

“That was tough, rooting out that wrong thinking. Added to that, I had put up some walls to keep from being hurt. I wanted the next time I put myself out there to be the last time. So I was going to make sure it was right because I didn’t want to end up in hurt and pain and heartache again. And, oh my goodness, that just makes you live in fear. Satan really used that fear of failure, of making a mistake and opening myself up to people who might hurt me in the future. That is a recipe for a bankrupt, lonely life. That fear trickled into my work, into everything.”

“When God started to break down those walls, he brought a lot of wonderful people into my life, who helped me work through what fear was doing, how it was manifesting, and how it was impacting me. I’ve seen those walls come down, I don’t feel so hindered to – this is going to sound dumb, but it’s real – go on a date, say yes to someone, to be in a situation where I feel vulnerable. It’s the risk-reward balance. It feels like high-risk, putting yourself out there and being vulnerable, but the reward could be great too.”

“That experience followed by the one I had with my small group, it’s healing to realize that you can go too far embracing something to the point where it defines you. Single is where God has me. It may not be where I want to be, but it’s where he has me so I want to use it. I want him to use me in this time. But I also don’t want it to be such a deep part of me that he can never change that situation in my life. If you pigeonhole yourself, take something as your identity, is it going to change? Are you going to let God do something there?” 

“People might be thinking, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to be married as soon as the right person comes along?’ Well, I do. But I know how to be an adult as a single person. I have my independence, and there’s a lot wrapped up in this independent woman life. Not that I ever set out to be a strong, independent career woman. That’s not necessarily what I wanted to be in life, but here I am.”

“And that’s why I have to make sure my identity is rooted in Christ. That’s what is healthy. That’s what is biblical. And also, I know the dangers of not being rooted there. I’m not there yet, but I’ve made incredible strides.”

On Church, Community & Belonging

“One of the ways I’ve really found my belonging at Calvary is through serving. I tell people all the time, single or not, if you want to feel like you belong at this big church, get plugged in somewhere, start serving. I made friends that way. When I started out serving with preschoolers, I didn’t have preschool kids, I had no connection to that ministry at all. But it’s where I started to feel like people here were normal and nice, they cared about me and were interested in my life. And that made me more comfortable to try other things. We all enter church with different backgrounds and wounds, different fears and things we have to overcome. You have to push through that discomfort to find that sense of belonging.”

“I ended up in my current Life Group because of people I met while serving, who got to know me and invited me in. As a group of married couples and one single person, we’ve had to figure it out. There were growing pains at first, but we all wanted it to work. I have friends who have tried the whole single-in-a-marrieds-small-group thing and it was so awkward and uncomfortable, they just couldn’t do it. I’ve been fortunate. They ask questions and don’t assume. They invite me to things – I go to their kids’ events! I have freedom to talk about stuff and my group has been very intentional about not just talking about relationships.”

“Marriage is ultimate in so many churches. And I love marriage. I’m glad we support marriage. But I appreciate the concept ‘I am not my relationship status.’ Because when you feel as though marriage is ultimate, then you feel like there’s something wrong with you or you’re somehow less than when you’re not married. It can be tough to walk into church by yourself every week. I love my church, and it’s my heart to have more people feel like they belong. I know how hard it is to feel like maybe you don’t.”