Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Resolution and The Church

With all the Love attention around the big V-Day, I've been wanting to write something about singleness but it morphed into a analyzation of something near to my heart. Let me explain:

When all those hearts and pink and red roses start appearing in stores, singles respond in many ways: 
1. ignore and continue on (my usual response)
2. be angry, bitter haters: "why the hell do couples get a holiday all to themselves? It's already a couples world, why do they get one more perk?" 
3. do the jesus thing. "thank you Lord for singleness. bless all the couples this Valentine's Day and please let this be the last VD I'm alone…" 
4. all other responses that I don't want to go into or can't think of.

This year, I've been kept laughing by all the funny Facebook posts that people are posting about being single on Valentine's Day. There are some hilarious Buzz Feeds out there. Laughing about it is also a common way to deal. Gratefully, I was raised in a household where my dad thought Valentine's Day was stupid because it was often the only time husbands did anything nice for their wives and it was usually only because of social pressure. He typically ignored Valentine's Day and took his wife on dates and bought her gifts throughout the rest of the year instead--can't complain about that. 

Today, however,  I'm pulling off the angry, bitter single pretty well, birthed out of working for a church. Churches seize this love holiday opportunity to minister to marrieds and couples. Often, they inadvertently look over one of the most overlooked of the body of Christ. 

As a result of my very attractive, angry bitterness, I googled "what to do when you're angry about singleness." Yes. That was the exact search. I'd reached the point where I wanted to cuss out all my coworkers and break my very tasty cup of coffee by throwing it at the wall.

I read through the few results that appeared and got some of the usual garbage about being married to Jesus and letting this be an opportunity to grow more holy. 

Then I found one that said something to this affect: "Suck it up and stop being so pathetic. Be thankful you're alive and healthy and have food to eat today. Your life could be so much worse, why are you complaining about something as trivial as singleness?" 

Not the most recommended tactic for dealing with a very real struggle--similar to telling a woman who can't birth children to suck it up and adopt, already--however, this time it worked. It jarred me from my brooding and desire to punch something. It also got my wheels turning because I was sure I could write something much better. 

This also opened me up to receive some really good advice from justinmcampbell.net. It was convicting, not because it told me to stop sniveling and be grateful. It was convicting in that it caused me to realize that I'm just as much to blame for the churches ignorance about singleness. How many times have I expressed to my church leaders how the gaps in the teaching and shepherding have hurt me? Never. How many times have I taken everything that makes me uncomfortable and taken it personally instead of seeing it as an opportunity to dialogue with others about it? Often. How often have I wanted to go vigilante on the church's ass instead of realizing that I'm not the only one? 

In Justin Campbell's blog, he gave a very encouraging list of "to dos" 

1. Do your best to understand why [the church] is the way it is and trust that most of it is not personal.
2. Earn the right to have a voice. 
3. Exercise your voice in a way that can be heard. 

Brilliant. 

Then he said some things about the lost that was also very convicting, pointing out that singles are the most likely demographic to skip out on church. 

That touched a very sensitive nerve. 

It made me want to cry. 

What if the insensitivity or lack of understanding of the single life is actually driving people away from the church? 

Granted, I love the church. I always have. I couldn't even picture not going to church or not being part of a body. I am sad when I miss it and try to be there whenever the doors are open because I want to be, not because my mommy and daddy make me or because I feel guilty or because I'm trying to earn Jesus points. I was convicted after reading this article because this body that I love so much has a very serious flaw and I have been aware of it for years. I've made a million excuses not to speak out or to avoid dialoguing with church leadership or even my (unintentionally inconsiderate) friends and family. I play martyr while nursing bitterness. 

I've known enough single people who won't go to church because they feel awkward. 

I've known too many church-going people who have responded to these hurting people in a harmful way. Notice I said church-going as opposed to "married." It's not a married versus situation. I've responded to singles with my own equivalent of "suck it up" without being willing to listen because I thought I'd been-there-done-that. 

So this year, I'm making a Valentine's Resolution. Instead of simply writing encouragement for singles and knowing only singles are going to read it, I'm going to start dialoguing with the Body of Christ about ways to minister to and love this demographic. We've adjusted to all other changes in culture: technology, social media, bent towards entertainment, ect. We need to adjust to the fact that the single household is the fastest growing household in America. 

Okay, maybe that statistic sucks and makes people uncomfortable. But it is what it is. If we're going to be culturally relevant, this is one way in which we need to change. 

let's start talking…

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