You guys. I have so, so many half-written blog posts just idling in my drafts folder. I haven’t published or worked on them because they’re almost all variations of a theme — singleness. And I don’t want to be that lady who is obsessed with being single, obsessed with finding a husband, obsessed with defining myself by my marital status (or lack thereof).
But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced I need to be brave and share those thoughts. A couple of reasons come to mind:
1. The blogosphere that I love truly, madly and deeply seems comprised mainly of mommy blogs (which I do enjoy reading!), food/decorating blogs or general “Christian living” blogs. They’re all good and feed my soul and my brain in different ways, but there seems a dearth of resources for singles — at least for resources that don’t try so hard to convince me that being single in my 30s is Living. My. Best. Life. Now!
Oh, I’ve stumbled across a few here and there. Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition sometimes have good resources for singles. For single women in particular, Fabs Harford is my new favorite because she’s faithful in pointing all women — single, married, engaged, widowed, whoever — toward our first Love, Jesus. I often read and re-read her posts when I’m in need of some perspective. And yesterday, I stumbled across this series of blog posts on singleness by Gimme Some Oven.
So, people are talking about singleness, and that’s good! I just don’t know if we’re talking about it enough, or with the right audiences. We singles talk to each other, but in my experience, the church — comprised mainly of married couples and families — seems like it doesn’t know what to do with us post-30 singles. I have felt lonelier as a single at church than as a single among my married and coupled-off friends who don’t go to church. I hope by shedding a little light here and there, we all, as the body of Christ, might learn together how to love each other well.
2. This is just where I’m at in my life right now. I realize the longing for marriage and a family might sound trivial to someone starving in Africa or feeling trapped in an abusive or loveless relationship. And in light of eternity, maybe my longing is trivial. I sometimes wish I could flip a switch and get over it already, ma’am. But if the writer’s decree is to “write what you know,” then friends, this is what I know right now. I know nothing of diaper creams or the best light for photographing food. But I am certain there is a wealth of lessons to be learned and endured during this single season, so I deal with it the only way I know how — by writing about it.
Putting Sex in Perspective
Something that gave me confidence to blog this morning was a thoughtful post by Kevin DeYoung: Putting Sex in Perspective. He writes mainly to Christians who experience same-sex attraction, but it was good for this heterosexual single Christian’s heart as well. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but a few points stood out to me and next thing I knew, I was mentally composing a blog post before I even got out of bed:
1. “Dying to self is the duty of every follower of Christ … We all long for creation to be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (v. 21). This does not minimize the struggle of those who experience same-sex attraction [or late-onset singleness!], but it is does maximize the ways in which we are more alike than different.”
2. “Singleness … does not mean you must live alone, die alone, never hold a hand, never have a hug, and never know the touch of another human being … Perhaps single is not even the best term for those whom we expect live a full life in the midst of friends and colaborers. If God sets the lonely in families, so should we (Ps. 68:6 NIV).”
3. “But, of course, none of this can be possible without uprooting the idolatry of the nuclear family, which holds sway in many conservative churches … A spouse and a minivan full of kids on the way to Disney World is a sweet gift and a terrible god. If everything in Christian community revolves around being married with children, we should not be surprised when singleness sounds like a death sentence.”
4. “In the Christian vision of heaven, there is no marriage in the blessed life to come (Luke 20:34-35). Marital intimacy is but a shadow of a brighter, more glorious reality, the marriage of Jesus Christ to his bride, the church (Rev. 19:6-8). If sexual intimacy is nothing up there, how can we make it to be everything down here?”
I need you
One of the biggest things I’m taking away from DeYoung’s post is that no matter how much I might try to convince myself, or even you, otherwise, I cannot do this singleness thing alone. I don’t doubt there are worse fates than a life or season of celibacy. I don’t doubt that marriage has its own pains and burdens. I don’t doubt that everyone else has their own crosses they are busy with.
I also don’t doubt that God made us for each other.
So, church, just like I need your help with my hearing loss, I need your help with my singleness. Sometimes I feel like the weight of it, or both, will crush me.
Not to put too dramatic a spin on it or anything. 😉
I know you didn’t ask … but here are some things weighing on my heart right now, for me and for you, especially you, my married friends and acquaintances who aren’t friends yet:
1. I need you married friends to teach me, the clueless single, how to be a good friend and sister to you. My friend-making skills are rusty. Because of the way we do idolize marriage and family, I’m reluctant to intrude on your family time. I worry that you might think that I have nothing to offer because I haven’t experienced motherhood. I shouldn’t let those worries keep me from you, but too often, I do. Can you meet me halfway and show me what to do? Tell me what’s helpful, tell me what’s realistic, tell me what not to do or expect when it comes to relating to you or understanding the purpose and place of marriage. But please, don’t leave me alone.
2. This singleness schtick, more than any other frustration, annoyance or trial I’ve experienced in my measly 31 years, has so far been the biggest temptation to walk away from God. (And if you are thinking that if that’s my biggest problem, then I must have been leading a charmed life, indeed … I would not argue with you) I already did once, and I’m sorely tempted to do it again. To call the shots. To trade the greater pleasures of God for the smaller, fleeting ones of the earth. To seek what I think is good and necessary for my life, only to lose my life in the end, instead of losing my life to Christ and finding my all in Him.
I need you to get on my case when I do that. Text me if you don’t see me at church. Check in now and then and ask how my heart’s doing. Will you help me as we both work out this whole “dying to self” business?
3. For the love of all that is good and holy, please help me find me a husband. 🙂 I’m only half-joking, friends! I know the odds are against us. There’s a scarcity of single men in the church. It’s true in my Presbyterian church in a college town, and it’s true in your mega-church in a bustling metropolis. (As my brother — who works at a large metropolitan church — said the other day, “Where are all the dudes?!”) But I’m over online dating. Not into the bar scene. My resources feel depleted, but maybe yours aren’t. Wink wink nudge nudge.
4. I am sure I will be tempted to compromise. To find a loophole that would allow me to be with a super nice, super great, but super non-Christian guy. Or sort of nice, kind of great, nominal Christian. I love Reformed theology, which means I love the doctrine of grace. And that just makes me confident that in my desperation, in my weakness, I’ll be tempted to misconstrue it, to apply it in a way it was never intended to be used. To say, “Well, he likes Jesus, but he doesn’t love Him, but that’s OK because 1 Peter 3:1-2 says I can win over my husband. I’ll just show him grace, and it’ll all be good.” That’s not grace! That’s twisting the Word to fit my agenda.
Please, will you pray for and with me to resist the temptation in the first place? To value Jesus and His Word so dearly that I would gladly endure singleness instead of trading it in for something or someone that would keep me from the Very Best Thing
Even if you’re not single, even if I’m not married, we’re all in this together. What would you add to the list above? What are some other practical ways that people who are married and people who are single can love each other well, especially within the church context? What do we each need to know about the other?
I don’t have all the answers … but I hope the questions take us to a place of sweeter fellowship and a greater grasp of the tender mercy of our God.