"I don't like to be labeled as lonely just because I am alone." – Delta Burke link
We are finally getting around to posting the personal stories on singleness that we received from our readers. We will post all of the ones that have been sent in one form or another. We are sorry for the delay. There is just too much going on in the evangelical world. Both Deb and I have developed a case of blogging ADD. Memo to Deb: Remember when you said that we wouldn't have enough to write about?????
If anyone else has a story they would like to share, try to get it to us by the end of the week. We will keep posting the stories until they are all covered. We will post Thursday and Friday and may post on the weekend and next Tuesday in order to get them all posted. Every single story has something important to share. We have done some minimal editing and formatting in order for them to be clear on our blog format. Also, if we were not sure if the authors wanted us to reveal their names, we did not include them. However, we can add them if you contact us.
Note to the evangelical church: Pay attention! We are missing out on the gifts and talents of many wonderful people because we have become fixated on marriage as the end goal for all people. We need to be focused, instead, on the gifts and talents of all believers, regardless of marital state. We are all impoverished when we sideline and ignore those who are single.
Seeking Community by AA
I have always been active in the church and in the singles departments and other singles groups. In college, there wasn’t any problem because we were mostly single.
I was looking forward to playing the field in grad school, because I left a small Baptist school (Georgetown College) for a very large school (UNC at Chapel Hill). But, to my great surprise, the best of the Christian men were taken. Never did figure that one out, nor how a married man could be active at church and work on his PhD at the same time. I couldn’t manage that very well. During that time, I started to realize that my two loves weren’t really compatible with each other in the romance department. They are chemistry and the church (I am using church to include God and Jesus. It just seems less threatening that way.) I dated some Christian men, and that was one of the important things I was looking for. But, they seemed to be attracted to me because of my strength and I wanted an equal or someone that would hold me up when I was weak.
Then, I got out into the work world, and discovered how singles were treated by normal Baptist churches. We tended to have our own departments, taught not by successful single men and women, but by couples close to our own age. A number of men just came through the groups, looking for women. Often, the socials seemed something closer to meat markets than anything else. There was subtle competition among the women. Knowing my love for the church, I dated some seminary students, only to break it off. (It is really too much to ask for a man that you are dating to try the dish you took to a pot luck at the church? That was just a sign of his rigidity, which I didn’t care for.)
Then, my career took me to Southern California, where I would have never gone on my own, but when you are unemployed and have a chance for a 3 month temporary job, you take it. But, the Baptist churches were just the same. Couples leading singles classes, meat market socials, etc. I didn’t date much if any because I tended to be the woman never chosen. I suspect that chemistry scared the Christian men away, and my church going any that I met at work. One time, when I was looking for a new church, since I had just moved to the area, I visited this large church. They actually had several singles groups. I visited only once. During the discussion (I might have had to introduce myself, and when I did so I mentioned where I worked.) That got a loud negative comment, from one of the guys and then my Southern accent was made fun of. No one slapped the offenders down, verbally or otherwise, so you can imagine how I felt.
I did all the right things, praying, reading all the depressing books about singleness. Most of them say, “Once I stopped looking, God gave me a husband.” I tried all of that.
A little later, I got involved with Wycliffe Bible Translators as a prayer partner, and took a spiritual gifts test. To my surprise, one of mine seemed to be celibacy. (It was a surprise that it was even part of that test, because others aimed at the Baptist, evangelical branch of Christianity don’t.)
I explored the possibility on my own and felt comfortable with the idea. One time, I mentioned that I might be called to be single to a woman whom I considered mature in our faith. Her immediate reaction was, “Until you meet the right man.” My unspoken response was, “I have, it’s Jesus”. That was probably typical among the Baptists.
My spiritual journey brought me to Catholicism. My singleness is accepted more, but have sometimes had to answer the question, “Are you a nun?” But the single groups are the same meat markets, or non-existent. (All I want is to find a group to do things with, like museums, craft shows, movies etc.). The lack of connection to families is still absent, nor are there many people that take in strays like me. My availability is still being taken advantage of. My most recent example is that I am normally supposed to be an Eucharistic Minister for a month every 3 months; recently I only missed one Sunday of my month,(November), was active every Sunday in December, including Christmas day, and so far two Sundays of January.
Would I change things? No. However, a community would be awfully nice. And for younger women on a similar path, some single women role models who were not foreign missionaries, like Lottie Moon would be helpful.
Singles Groups Are Like Kids' Sunday School Classes With Bigger Chairs- Juniper
Being single, especially an older single person in the church is (to put it mildly) not fun. Having found Jesus as the age of 35 and having now spent 11 years in assorted churches, I can genuinely say that most churches would be just as happy to have no single people. I found that there’s not a lot of space for someone who just does not want to get married.
There are plenty of sermons, programs, etc., talking about getting married, problems in marriage, marriage and kids, but very little about living life solo. The churches I’ve attended didn’t have a lot of space to just be a single person serving the church. They know you’re there, but don’t really see you. Most things are geared towards couples and families. I used to just love when the inevitable marriage conferences came around and the singles in the church would be encouraged to go because “you’ll need it if you get married.”
Singles groups feel like kids Sunday School with bigger chairs. I never found a lot of substance being taught. I don’t imagine many churches would say so, but as a single person you can start to wonder if the church really sees you as a full person. I suspect it may be worse if you're an older man than it is for me as a woman. Also, if you want to be a minister and get credentialed, there aren't many pastorates open to a single person whether old or young. And if you're a woman? Piffle.
That’s my rant. I’m working on a graduate degree in religion and I’m hoping to be able to teach someday, but it may be at my local coffeehouse with whoever happens to be there because it is unlikely to ever happen at a church.
I Hate It
Overlooked, left out, abandoned, forgotten, ignored, rejected, exclusion, avoided, judged and HAVING NO VOICE!!!!!!! Even when you use your voice, no one listens so, you are NOT HEARD!!!!!
Often judged with "They're gay" or "Something must be wrong with them" comments as to why we are still single!!!
I don't want to walk around telling everyone or justifying things. But I sometimes do and I'm going to proceed to do that here. I was the victim of childhood sexual abuse and an alcoholic father. The guy that I was going to marry(we talked about it all the time) after college cheated on me with a good friend at undergrad school! I then said "Forget it" regarding the marriage/guy thing. I went to grad school and wouldn't date because the program was significantly hard. Then, I focused on career and dated for about 3 years. Suddenly, I had major neck injury/surgery followed cancer surgery. I've had a crazy time frame here of not being able to date at all!!! So, when people judge me without know my story OR just simply, knowing ME, it hurts!!!
Maybe this is more pain and anger than you wanted for your singles blog, but it is definitely where I am at right now!!!! I HATE IT!!!!!!!
Steven Scott's Series on Singleness at his blog From the Pew
Here is one of the posts and this is the link to all four posts.
The Selfishness of Singleness
People who put off marriage and having children mostly do so out of selfishness. They want to satisfy their own desires for a while instead of getting to the work that the Lord would have us do. And nothing, I mean nothing, will cure this selfishness like a spouse and some kids. Diapers, emergency room visits, bedwetting sheet changes in the middle of the night will show you just how selfish you were. Witnesses testified of this fact before I was married, and personal experience ratifies it.
This is a sentiment possessed to some degree by more than a handful of Christians I have known. Recently I had lunch with an old friend – single friend – of mine who has reached a point in his life where he's kind of tired of hearing these things. He's decided that between he and God that he's content being single, and in fact isn't sure he wants to get married. He has nephews and nieces to love, and has no problem loving them, but marriage and kids of his own just isn't on the wishlist.
He also noted something I had not considered before. Yes, I knew some people probably fell into this temptation, but in isolated cases that I never thought could be widespread. But people can be just as selfish in wanting and having children as they can in being single. Consider the pressure in conservative Christian circles. Being known as a bible family with lots of kids can be a temptation. The little pink house with a white picket fence and 2.3 kids too.
I know families with lots of kids who have made things work out quite well, and families that have gone through hell with just one. Mrs. Scott and I were talking about this today – in light of our own family trials – and have both come to realize that there are people who are made to handle certain family situations and some that are not. Let's let each one work out their own life before God. May God give them wisdom in doing so and us wisdom enough to know that God is giving them wisdom that doesn't need our superior attitude. Am I being a bit preachy here? Yeah, why not?
Lydia's Corner:1 Chronicles 7:1-8:40 Acts 27:1-20 Psalm 7:1-17 Proverbs 18:22