single in the church

Not sure if I can share my thoughts on this matter with clarity in one post but I finally decided to give it a shot ūüôā

So here’s the deal. The single woman has four considerations:

1. Society’s idea of how you ought to feel about being single
2. What you think about where you are in life
3. How you actually feel about your status
4. How things ought to be, in my opinion

Since I turn 30 next month, I think I’m almost qualified to write from my own experiences in this area, so¬†I’ll use personal stories¬†to illustrate these four points. Here goes self-disclosure for the sake of research…

1. Society:

Some friends asked me to stand for their wedding this summer and I will be honored to do so! Having witnessed the progress of their relationship, from “just talking” to “talking, talking” to the proposal, it will be awesome to have front-row reservations as a witness when they take their vows. My poor mother, when I shared with her the news that I would be in yet another friends’ wedding, could hardly bear the conversation. It was probably a little insensitive of me, and I repented of it after the fact, but I actually found it hilarious how terribly she wanted to avoid talking about it. Then she tried to console me, which in reality was more self-consolation on her part with the words, “don’t worry…your day will come.” To be honest, that “worry” hadn’t even crossed my mind when thinking about the upcoming nuptials!

And, in the spirit of honesty too, though, I must confess that the thought had crossed my mind once before. It was when I heard that two young friends of mine had begun their courtship. These guys are probably 5yrs younger than me and I remember feeling like, “no fair, how come they can be entering a relationship but not me?” So I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, immune to that feeling! Just that I haven’t had that feeling for several years now. When my friends find love, my feelings are so directed toward their happiness that there really isn’t any room left to feel anything about myself…

When I shared the story about my Mom’s reaction with my friend Kimmy, she laughed the entire time, because her Mom had pretty much the same reaction. haha. But then, I shared the story with my friends who are getting married this summer. There were several close friends around at the time and I was anticipating a burst of laughter, but instead, was met with one of those awkward silences that are difficult to recover from. It occurred to me, after the fact, that they probably resonated more with my Mom’s sentiment, than with me :-/

2. Your Thoughts:

Growing up in a church with a strong emphasis on apocalyptic prophecy, I never thought I’d live past 25. Seriously! All my goals/dreams/hopes etc, ended around age 25 so I feel like I’m living on borrowed time where I get to fulfill dreams I was even afraid to dream… Impossible dreams like those formed by an African little girl as she watches the lives of those in the developed world. If I could have lived past 25, I would have wanted to own my own car, live in a modern apartment by myself, and have a regular exercise routine. And now, in my borrowed time, I am living the impossible dream!

Some days, when I’m out for a run (more like a jog/walk at this stage), I step back from my life and take a look at it from “the outside.” And every single time I do that, I’m just in awe at how blessed I am! Who gets to have friends as coworkers?! huh? Me! Who can pray out loud at home, any time of the day, any day of the week, without worrying about anyone overhearing?! huh? Me! Who gets to see all four seasons every year and lives within an hour radius of a large body of water?! eh? Me! And¬†every time¬†I unlock the door to my apartment, I think, “this is MY apartment :)”

3. Your Feelings:

Grad school...ha!

Last fall I submitted an application for graduate school. The thought process that went into my decision to apply was rather instructive. It all centered around the possibility of getting married and starting a family of my own. Maybe I should keep working and pay off my credit card debt so that I can bring my debt-free status as a dowry to my marriage… If someone I liked proposed to me before I was done with grad school, would I quit school to marry/have kids? Or should I wait to meet someone before I go back to school? etc etc etc…

Most of these thoughts surprised me, actually. For all my excitement about where I’m at in life, I guess there’s a part of me that desires the companionship that marriage promises…enough, at least, for its possibility to factor as a major consideration when thinking about my future. Although I miss my family, back home in Zimbabwe, it’s not the kind of missing that makes me want to go back and live in my parents house, you know. I miss the accountability that family provides. I miss the assumption of unconditional love. And I miss the default community.

My parents’ house will no longer be able to provide these things for me in the way it used to. Because, I want more than just these things – I want to impact the world and 36 Heythrop is probably not the right venue for that any more. So, the easiest solution to meet the needs expressed is to get married. BAM! Instant love, accountability and community!

4. How it oughta be:

Getting married is the easy way to meet my needs. But not the only way. The church is supposed to be a community where you find love and accountability. But it takes a bit more work to get to that place…

Living in the UP was certainly one of the most isolated experiences in my life, but moving to Lansing topped it! In the first couple of months after moving here, I was lonely – boy, was I lonely! And I was afraid of coming off “clingy” so I tried not to call the same people too often. Truth be told though… I was so lonely. haha.

Then a couple of months ago, I finally decided to engage the community around me. Instead of mourning for friends I left behind in Ann Arbor/Detroit, or pining for a love that would mystically eradicate my woes, I would start going to prayer meetings. I would start sharing my prayer requests with church members and remembering their requests throughout the week. I would pray for them and ask after their welfare. Probably the one that’s most difficult for me, is making myself accountable to others, but I’m trying e.g. with my running goals for this year.

Getting married is not the only thing I want in life, you know. It feels like well-meaning friends/family/church members, sometimes treat the single woman like her life is completely empty without marriage. So I think, sometimes, single ladies overcompensate with the whole independent woman thing. Yet in reality, we do want the companionship of marriage. But we’re afraid to admit it because we don’t wanna come off desperate or something, right. haha.

In my experience, it’s possible to both be happy about being single and desirous of marriage at the same time. Further, I’d contend that one could accomplish that while avoiding bitterness,¬†cynicism,¬†and desperation if they were part of a healthy, Christ-like church. A church where you aren’t treated like an invalid because you aren’t married (so everyone’s trying to cure you by introducing you to somebody. haha). And yet at the same time, they recognize the very real human needs for companionship that can be met through the body of Christ.

And that, my friends, in my opinion, is how it ought to be.