Single. Everywhere we go, people ask:"Are you seeing anyone?" (I'd like to add here that I've never once been angry or bitter towards my loved ones or even strangers asking me this, it's the question itself I don't like) If you're anything like me and you are quite literally, never seeing anyone, there's a moment before you answer where in your mind you're thinking, "How can I phrase my answer so I'm honest but I don't sound as pathetic as I think the person thinks I am?" Please understand, a lot of times it's not a problem, it's a natural question that I ask others as well just to make conversation. When I ask women this question, it's to mentally prepare myself for what a future friendship is going to look like. For example: If a woman I've met responds with "I'm dating someone/in a relationship," I'm thinking, "Ok, we have a shot at being friends, she may not be completely wrapped up in her significant other and still value friendships enough to spend time with me." If I hear, "I'm married or I'm married and I have 2.5 kids," I'm thinking, "Never ask this woman to do anything because she doesn't have the time and we don't have anything to relate to one another about." This of course, isn't so much my mental approach to friends I knew before they were married, even though time together isn't as constant, there is a silent understanding that an effort, no matter how small, will still be made once the "I do's" are said. However, it does feel that once those sacred vows are expressed, an "I no longer," is echoed to their friends.
The reality is that once a woman is married and/or has children, she really doesn't have time for her friends. Think about it, we have 12-14 hours in our days, most of which are spent at work. When the married woman comes home, what little time she has is spent with her family, and that's what she should be doing. Many women long for these things and many get them, but there are some of us who are alone, (we are scattered amongst the churches and workplaces but we are there).
We're told by our families and friends, "Of course you're going to find someone" or "It's going to happen for you." But you don't know that, it may not happen for us. And rather than sit and mope about it I'd like to be surrounded by others like me. Community is huge in the Bible and in my opinion, a lovely aspect of the Christian life. But with small numbers of singles at different life stages, the Christian Single is lost in the throngs of young families.
Please don't misunderstand me, this isn't a whiny cry from an embittered single, but a desperate plea on behalf of us who long for community but have nowhere where they belong. I'm not alone, in conversations with other singles, I've heard discouragement: "My married friends rarely reach out, I'm keeping up the friendship," or my own frustration with singleness: It isn't that I feel left behind when my friends are married, it's that I feel left out. It's awesome when your friends fine their "best-friend" but when all your friends find that person and you're alone... it's not fun. It's not right that as you age your only shot at meaningful friendships can only be found in marriage. We also deal with moments or phases where we question, "What's wrong with me?" "Why am I not loved in a romantic way?" And no matter the answers, at the end of those days, we struggle to place our trust in the only man who can fulfill us: Christ.
Often, the problem isn't about not being married, it's about having friendships. Work can be a distraction and you can overall be very happy with your life, but a life without community is lacking indeed. How does one build community where they're at but wherever you go there isn't opportunity for community?
I hope I've provided an accurate description of what it's like to be single in the Church (and in general) and that you know I'm not speaking for every single out there: differing personalities provide different struggles and the ones above are mine or shared by others I know... But it would be nice if singles in the church were valued instead of being the group no one knows what to do with.