Letter from the Editor: Singleness

My name is Christie, I am 29 and a half years old, and I am single.

In 2017, single at nearly 30 isn’t necessarily the weirdest situation in which to find myself, but in the Christian circles I’ve been in all my life, it’s not the most normal.

Yes, the culture surrounding me is full of singles in their twenties, but the subculture of Christianity I currently find myself immersed in is not that way.

Whenever the topic of my singleness comes up in conversation, there is usually this uncomfortable pause where the other person feels a need to offer me a word of condolence for the empty space next to me in my bed. Suddenly it’s as if there is an ellipses on my life acting as a loose end that needs tied up, and this pause is usually filled by an attempt to comfort me in my incompleteness.

Here are the top three most common responses I hear.

There’s someone out there for you! God wouldn’t give you a desire for a husband if He didn’t intend to fulfill it.

Hmmm….. I see this theology nowhere in scripture. The favored verse to rely on for this perspective is Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” People interpret this verse is in two popular ways. One, God will satisfy all your desires when you delight in Him. And two, God will give you the actual desires themselves inside of your heart when you delight in Him. While I believe that God does both, I tend to lean more toward the latter. There is simply no corroboration elsewhere in scripture that God always fulfills every desire that someone has. In fact, Christ on the cross is a direct contradiction to this notion. Jesus prayed the cup would pass from Him yet submitted Himself to the Father’s will. Therefore, I can safely infer that I am to do the same with my own life experiences.

Oh, you’ve got plenty of time!

Not helpful. And here’s why: It implies that one day I will be out of time. I always hear a clock ticking when this phrase leaves someone’s lips. The scene from “The Help” flashes through my mind, and I can hear Skeeter’s mom in her thick, southern accent hollering at her unmarried, 23-year-old daughter. “Eugenia, your eggs are dyin’!” The empty tank of my love life becomes increasingly pressurized at hearing this response, and I feel the need to scramble for a calendar to calculate just how many years I have left before people stop saying this to me and we hold a memorial service for the death of my last egg of fertility.

Enjoy your freedom while you have it!

I really do get this one. It makes total sense that I have more flexibility than married people, especially those married with children. However, the statement implies that married and/or married with children involves an imprisonment of sorts. “Tied down.” There is also an implication that being single and “free” is full of all sorts of satisfaction. Travel! See places! I love to travel, and I love to explore.

But do you know what I do not love as much? Travelling and exploring all alone. Yes, I know that living alone brings a simplicity and a quietness that is very much coveted and sought after by people. I love my quiet times. As I am an introvert by nature, there are times when I just want to be all by myself and soak up the quiet with Netflix and ice cream.

But here’s the thing: Those are the things people want to do as a reset from their normal lives. People take vacations when they’re tired, burned out and need to get away from reality. Oftentimes, they leave their children behind and go spend some time resetting and rejuvenating. But despite the jokes, no one wants those quiet times to be 100% of their lives. At the end of the day, no one would ever trade human connection for peace and quiet. Ultimately, no mom truly wants to turn in her children and chaotic house for sterilized cleanliness and total silence. Everyone has their joke in an exasperated moment, but to lose what she has would be utter devastation.

My life is your vacation. It’s what you long for in the state of feeling overwhelmed. Not what you cry yourself to sleep over in emptiness and agony. And while I truly want to live singleness to its fullest, there will never be a time when I look at my current state as more desirable than the one that has the sacred intimacy and companionship of marriage and the thrill of wonder and awe at the exclusive reproduction of life that you see when you behold your own flesh and blood wrapped around a tiny human that came directly from your collective DNA.

 

 

There are many more ramblings I could deliver on this topic. I will leave you here with a few thoughts of mine on what you can do with your single friends. Let me say loud and clear for all to know: I am probably not your typical single. I have not lived the “normal” single life in my late twenties. My experience is very unique, and probably many of my desires and perspectives are unique as well. So please take that into consideration as you read the following.

Invite your single friends into your lives. Whether it’s for dinner or an extra room to stay, show them they are wanted. Show them that marriage and kids are not literally everything and that friendship is still sacred and desired from within your unit.

Show them your singleness. What do I mean? Show your single friend that you, yourself, are one individual person and long to have a connection with them that is solely yours. Spend one-on-one time with them. Many singles don’t know how to relate to couples. Show them that you’re two single people who have individual personalities, and it will help lessen any intimidation and fear of not being able to relate.

Don’t assume they have all their social needs met. Relationships and community mean everything to me, and I am someone who goes very deep with many people. I get to have intimate relationships in multiple places because singleness lends itself to that freedom.

However, I sleep alone at night. Which means there is an aspect of intimacy I never experience. There is a level of companionship that I have not reached yet. And my personal experience with this is that I am painfully aware of it. I might be an introvert, but I am an overly relational person. Sometimes I ask God why He decided to make me with such a deep well of relational desire and then plant me in 2017 in one of the most individualistic cultures ever to exist while giving me a life path resulting in singleness at nearly 30 years old.

Reach out to your single friends and show them the place they hold in your life. Maybe they won’t accept, but if they have half the desire that I do, they will be grateful at your intentional love and pursuit.

Show them grace in how they manage their relationships. I realize what a gift it is that I have the opportunity to share in deep intimacy in multiple friendships in a way that many of my married friends are unable to. With this gift also comes the unspoken pressure of maintaining that intimacy and being equally available to all parties at all times. I probably put this pressure on myself more than anyone else, but nevertheless, it is real. It is not an uncommon for me to fantasize about having the superpower of omnipresence.

Just like parents desperately desire their childless friends to extend the grace that comes with friendship surrounding the hectic life of raising kids, the single desperately needs your grace in the sometimes sporadic nature of their commitments and responsibilities that could extend across a broad range of relationships. Or the infamous rap of the independent singles who keep to themselves and don’t venture out much. Both need the same grace.

There is also another area of grace needed: As an unmarried adult, when I go through crises, I feel the same human need as the married person to confide in someone and process my experiences and emotions. Whom do I go to when life gets hard and things are falling apart and getting more and more complicated? Whom do I rely on when being an adult is burdensome and life decisions are vast and heavy and scary? There is no rulebook for this. I wish there was. And so there’s grace.

I want to end by declaring from the rooftops that I have amazing people in my life who do an unbelievably phenomenal job at showing me friendship and grace right where I’m at in life. All of us, married or single, need this.

We need each other. We need to be seen and known, and I know that marriage does not fulfill every single need and that total emotional satisfaction does not take place after the wedding. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, the struggle is real.

And so we keep drawing nearer to one another and affirming one another in whatever place we are in right now.

This is relationship. This is love. And this is what we’re here for. 

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