Single Today

Conquer Yesterday's Regrets, Ditch Tomorrow's Worries, and Thrive Right Where You Are



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April 23, 2024 | ISBN 9780593948743

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About the Book

An empowering guide to the gift of singleness that will help you leave shame in the past and let go of anxiety about the future in order to thrive today—from a thirtysomething single pastor who understands that the struggle is real.

“Raw, relatable, and encouraging.”—New York Times bestselling author Granger Smith

Ryan Wekenman has been an unmarried pastor for over a decade. He’s heard all the usual questions: “Are you dating anyone? Any wedding plans in the future?” But he knows the real question they’re asking is, “Hey, do you think you’ll be single for the rest of your life?”

Ryan believes that singleness isn’t a curse to endure. Rather, it’s a gift to enjoy, even if at times it can be hard to see it that way. But he has discovered firsthand—and from hundreds of meetings with other single people—that we are often consumed by regrets or shame from the past, together with worry or fear of the future, making it feel impossible to find peace in the present.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Single Today shares Ryan’s perceptive anecdotes, thought-provoking questions, biblical insight, and disarming humor as he invites you into his journey of learning to fully embrace his current reality.

Single Today will encourage you to

• gain practical tools to help handle the annoying and uncomfortable situations single people get placed in
• learn how to talk to family and friends about your singleness with confidence
• practice opening your heart and embracing true intimacy
• stop believing your marital status is keeping you stuck
• start living the full and abundant life available today

No amount of shame will change the past, and no amount of worry will fix the future, but with a little faith and work, you can start thriving today.
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Praise for Single Today

Single Today is a brave and stirring look into the deep waters of the human heart. It asks probing questions and explores underlying pressures of marital expectations from the church and society. Yes, this is a book about being single, but it is even more about being truly present and soaking up every bit of beauty that the past and the future might otherwise steal.”—Jeffrey Tacklind, author of The Winding Path of Transformation, and pastor of Little Church by the Sea, Laguna Beach

Single Today will be an encouragement to many who need to know that they are unique, gifted, valued, and loved.”—Ben Higgins, co-founder and president of Generous International and author of Alone in Plain Sight

“I’ve been a mentor for single women for more than a decade, and I wish I had this practical resource to share with them sooner! It’s funny, warm, and encouraging, and it reads like you’re having coffee with a good friend who also happens to be one of the wisest people you know. Single Today will change the way you see your past and your future, your singleness and yourself.”—Stephanie May Wilson, author of Create a Life You Love

Single Today offers a vision for a fully satisfied life sans the need to be tethered relationally in marriage. It is the book every single person needs to read and every married person needs to read to better equip their single friends and family members to live the full lives God calls them to.”—Wayne Francis, lead pastor of The Life Church, New York; co-author of God and Race; and chaplain for the Brooklyn Nets

“Singleness doesn’t need to be a valley in life you must endure until you find that other person, but instead it can be a nonstop collection of mountaintop moments, inspired by God for your life, that you can be absolutely grateful for!”—Shawn Johnson, senior pastor of Red Rocks Church and author of Attacking Anxiety

“Such a helpful guide for anyone struggling with contentment right now. I loved Wekenman’s insight and stories that anyone can relate to, whether single, dating, engaged, or married.”—Ruth Soukup, New York Times bestselling author of Living Well, Spending Less and Do It Scared

“Brilliantly written, this timely, inspiring, and biblically based work is full of practical application that will move readers to a place of true contentment in the season they are in.”—Jimmy and Irene Rollins, founders of TWO=ONE marriage ministry

“This book is packed with immediately practical real talk about contentment, purpose, and living presently through singleness, regardless of the reason or the season. Single Today is raw, relatable, and encouraging. It’s the real deal.”—Granger Smith, speaker and New York Times bestselling author of Like a River

“Wekenman gives practical steps toward significant mindset shifts that lead to a deep satisfaction in being single today.”—Jonathan Pokluda, lead pastor, bestselling author, and host of Becoming Something podcast
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Single Today

Chapter 1

Stagnant Water

Feel Your Feelings and Talk It Out

Is there something wrong with me?

The church parking lot had been buzzing all day, but now it was empty. Another successful Sunday. Another week of being a pastor. The sermon was done, the building was locked, the alarm was set, and all I had to do was get back to my apartment.

But I couldn’t move.

For the past hour, my Chevy Cruze had been the only car left in the lot. The keys were in the ignition, but I couldn’t put it in drive. I was stuck in my own head, trapped by the spiraling thoughts.

We have thousands of thoughts every day. Most come and go, but some get caught, embedding themselves in our brains, like a drill digging deeper and deeper into the earth.

Ten years ago as I sat frozen in that parking lot, one of those thoughts came.

Is there something wrong with me?


On repeat.

Every day.

At the time, I was a few years into being a pastor and loved it. I was working at a great church, was taking seminary classes at night, and had amazing friends. But there was one problem.

I was single.

A single pastor.

By the way, I’m still a single pastor—a much healthier one, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In some Christian traditions, singleness is celebrated, but that wasn’t my experience. Although we’ve got Bible verses that say we should celebrate it, in my circles we’ve been pretty good at overlooking them. (Don’t worry—much more on that later.)

I wasn’t all that concerned about my relationship status, but everyone else sure seemed to be. My singleness was the low-hanging fruit in every service. Older guys would find me in the lobby and remind me that marriage is God’s idea and that they’d really love to see me married by this time next year. And every well-intentioned aunt and grandmother was hearing from God that I was supposed to meet their niece or neighbor.

Everyone had their own method but the same message. Time is running out. If you’re single today, you should be worried about tomorrow. If you aren’t searching for “the one,” there must be something wrong with you. After all, you aren’t getting any younger.

The expectation was for me to be married. Or at the very least, single and ready to mingle. After all, we’re here to be fruitful and multiply.

Which is great.

And biblical.

And important.

And of not much interest to me.

A relationship has never been too high on my priority list. But I didn’t know how to say that back then. And every time I tried, the person listening would smile as the words went in one ear and out the other, and then they’d tell me about another friend they wanted me to meet—this one was “super independent,” like me.

For years, the narrative of my singleness hung around. It was the thing in the air. I’d go to work and hear it. Then I’d go to seminary and hear it again. Then during every holiday, I’d see my extended family and they’d complete the trifecta. Three strikes and you’re out; you can secondhand smoke a narrative for only so long before it starts affecting you.

I say you because it’s easier to type than I. But the truth is, I was laughing less, dreaming less, and sleeping less. Life was losing its luster. My soul was being buried alive underneath all the worries and confusion about my singleness—each harmless joke or comment was another handful of dirt tossed on the coffin. Until this particular Sunday night—the one that found me sitting in the parking lot—when the coffin felt six feet deep.

I was angry and upset, or at least I wanted to be. Those were the emotions I was searching for, but I couldn’t find them, name them, or feel them—I didn’t know I was allowed to. I couldn’t even cry. I hadn’t in several years. So instead, I sat in my car and stared blankly at the night sky.

That may sound a bit dramatic for the start of a book on singleness. Maybe your singleness has never kept you stuck in a parking lot. Or maybe my story feels tame compared with your experience. Whatever your story is, we’ve all had those moments of isolation when the loneliness sets in. Those are the moments when the first enemy of singleness (the past) can take some really cheap shots at you. Shame, regret, and pain from yesterday start telling you there’s something wrong with you today.

What I really needed in that moment was for someone to teach me how to process my past (which may be the same thing you need today). I needed to talk it out. Fortunately, that week, I made one of the most important connections I’ve ever made.

Spiritual Direction

Bill’s office smelled like lavender.

To this day, I’ve never seen a humidifier work harder than the one in the back corner of his small space. The incessant hum was about to escort me into new territory. The place beneath my conscious thoughts. Beneath the surface of the water, the deep end of my soul.

Once I found enough footing to put my car in drive and leave the church parking lot, I figured I should probably see a counselor. I didn’t know how to do that at the time; this was before there were resources everywhere. But after a quick Google search, I found an option called spiritual direction.

Spiritual directors are basically counselors, except they are way more spiritual (that’s a joke, sort of). While counselors help us work through situations in our lives and relationships, spiritual directors primarily focus on discerning what God is up to in our lives. While every director is different, sessions usually start with some Bible reading, prayer, and a little silence before you dive in and talk about whatever is going on in your life.

That sounded like a good place to start, so I sent an email to a center down the street, and a few days later, I heard back from a guy named Bill who told me he’d love to help.

I had no idea what to expect. My only experience with counseling was what I’d seen in movies, so I figured I was essentially Matt Damon from Good Will Hunting and would scare away the first few victims until I finally found someone who “got” me.

That’s not what happened.

Mostly because I wasn’t a genius with a troubled past who was running away from my potential. I was just a single pastor who was overthinking my singleness.

The counseling space was small but cozy. Besides a couple of chairs, a side table with a Bible on it was the only other piece of furniture. Bill casually sat down, waving at the other chair, inviting me to join him. He had thick, long, unkempt hair and was wearing the baggiest pants I’d ever seen, matched with an oversize plain black T-shirt and flip-flops. The same uniform he would sport every session over the next several years.

“Coffee?” he asked, raising a Styrofoam cup.

I’d been a pastor long enough to know that deep conversations are more manageable when you’re sipping on a hot drink, so I nodded. And although he didn’t say anything, I’m confident he noticed my shaky hand when I took the cup, coffee spilling over the top and splashing on the floor. As I would soon discover, despite his laid-back appearance, Bill was always observing. Not in a judgmental way, but rather like a fisherman watching the water patterns, or a comic studying human behavior.

“I picked out a passage for us,” Bill said, his voice calm. “I’m going to read it. Then I’ll be silent. Whenever you are ready, start talking.”

That felt like an odd strategy.

That’s it?

I came from a fast-paced pastoral job, where we made quick decisions and had so many people to meet with that we had to keep conversations swift and efficient.

But I nodded again, and the room went still.

Really still.

The only sound was the humming of the humidifier lofting lavender into the air. Which I needed because the longer we sat in silence, the louder the events of the day became. Random thoughts kept popping up. As if my brain were taking a last stand, trying to protect me from what waited below the surface.

That budget meeting was brutal.

I have so much to get done before my sermon on Sunday.

Maybe I shouldn’t be a pastor.

Is there something wrong with me?

Oh shoot, I forgot to call Andy back.

This whole “inner work” thing was new territory for me. Taking time to feel my feelings and talk to someone about them was outside my comfort zone. I’d gotten really good at encouraging others to do it, but I figured it was time to practice what I preached. As uncomfortable as it was, I knew I needed it, so I took a breath and tried to let the hum usher me into the stillness.

Then Bill opened his Bible to the fifth chapter of John’s gospel and began to read a story about the Pool of Bethesda.

About the Author

Ryan Wekenman
Ryan Wekenman is a storyteller and single pastor who passionately believes we don’t have to be married to live wholly. Ryan has a master’s degree from Talbot School of Theology. He is the co-host of two podcasts, Stories in Scripture, a show that brings the Bible to life for people all around the world, and Afterthoughts, a weekly conversation about faith, culture, and the church. Ryan is the teaching pastor of Red Rocks Austin, a young, vibrant church he helped start with two of his best friends. He lives in Austin, Texas. More by Ryan Wekenman
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