Colossians 4:6 speaks of gracious speech that is seasoned with salt. If we are not careful, our words will leave a bad aftertaste or be spiritually unhealthy to our hearers. One of the best ways you can guard the single friends or people you know who are serving overseas is by guarding your mouth. It seems simple, yet there are subtle ways we fail to do this.

We say unhelpful phrases like, “There’s something in the water.”

One major temptation is to share every story you know of someone who found their spouse while serving overseas. Someone shared story after story like this with me and concluded with, “There’s something in the water.” Looking back upon more years of singleness than I anticipated for myself, I fought the temptation to think God has given me an empty cup. Or perhaps no cup at all.

I had been fed these stories in my younger single years to the point that I began to crave them, standing at the barren, idolatrous cisterns I had hewn out for myself and remaining parched. When our conversations are grace-filled and seasoned with salt, we leave singles thirsty for Jesus, not wanting to dig out broken cisterns that can’t hold water.

We fail to ask the right questions… or any questions!

The first time I lived overseas, one question nationals loved to ask was, “Do you want to stay here and get married?” I was ten years younger, at a stage of life where I could brush it off with a joke if I wanted. In some areas of the world, not being married at my age is not taboo. In other areas, the societal pressure to marry is stronger. Asking good cultural questions can give insight into how we can best support them in their singleness will also learning about other cultures. Consider a question like, “What are the cultural views of marriage where you’re living?” (If you have more, I would love to hear them!)

I write this as someone who is learning from the unhelpful things I have heard, said, and allowed to feed my heart. I also approach this as a learner. Together we can begin being a healthier sounding board for singles. For reading more on this subject, I highly recommend I Don’t Wait Anymore by my friend Grace. Her insight has been very encouraging and refreshing for me and many others. She writes so well!