Monday, August 10, 2015

Joining and Staying Part 2: When Singles Go To Your Church

It is not good for us to be alone. This part of scripture (Genesis 2) is not meant to be ignored when you’re safely on the other side of marriage. It is still not good for us to be alone. 
This is not an open invitation to set singles up, though that is not always a bad use of your time.  (Note on that: if a single is under 25, they very likely do not want to be set up. If they are over 25, they are more open to the idea. But the best solution is to ask the single in question how they feel about being set up). No my friends, this is an invitation for you to invade our lives and refuse to give us the privacy you think we feast upon.
Yes, invade our lives. We are not filling our time with exciting escapades and brimming nightlife, despite what the Instagram feed suggests. We are alone and we need people, even if we act as if we don’t by leaving church early or not showing up at socials.
Invite us over. Invite us to be a part of your life. If we say no, ask another time. If we say no, ask again. If we say no a third time, ask us why. It may be that we really don’t like you. It may be that we are just really busy and some scheduling adjustments need to be made. It may be we are more terrified of you than you are of us and saying no is our defense mechanism.
Don’t give up. Sometimes we don’t know how much we need you. Sometimes we get so used to being alone that we don’t realize we’ve come to prefer solitary confinement to the interaction with human beings.
If this happens, it is not good. We are not meant to be alone and while it’s our job to make sure that we are in community, going to church even though it’s scary as hell, and accepting invitations when they are offered. The fact is, it takes two to Tango. And this doesn’t mean you should confine us to the singles group or the career group or other cages containing others of our kind. I know it’s easier for you if you can do that. It’s also easier for us. But it’s not good for either you or us.
Oh yeah. We need you. But you also need us. You need our spontaneity. You need our flexibility. You need our relational resource (they aren’t being depleted by husbands, wives and children on a daily basis). You need our brains that have time to read and watch movies and keep up with the rapidly changing culture.
And you need our pain. Just like we need yours. We also need each others’ joy. We need to see what it’s like to be married and have kids. You need to see (or be reminded) what it’s like to be single. Just because we might leave the single state does not mean that our pain is not very real and very present. Neither is our joy. And we don’t need to see you married with kids so we can learn what to do (or what not to do) because some of us won’t get married. We need to see so we can learn what sort of hurts you experience. We need to know how to love you and enter your pain, just like you need to know ours.
Here’s something else. This idea of need can be confused with the idea of usefulness. It’s hard not to view relationships for what we can get out of them. I could talk all day about what you’d get out of having me for a friend, but that’s putting our relationship in economic, give-and-take terms and that is very capitalistic and American but not very biblical.
I think God would have been just fine without us, but he made us anyway and went through a whole hell of a lot of pain to keep us. Relationships are painful and messy and scary. I can tell you point blank, hanging out with married friends and friends with kids is painful. It’s a blaring light, reminding me of something I long for but do not have. At the same time, I get joy from watching friends enjoy marriage and have babies. But I wouldn’t experience that joy if those friends stopped being friends and kept me at arms length because they were afraid of hurting me or scaring me or thought I couldn’t understand.
Because I need to understand. We are called to weep and rejoice with one another. That doesn’t mean the mommies weep and rejoice in one corner while the old cronies weep and rejoice in another. When one member of the body suffers, all other members suffer with it, even if the other members are unaware
Oh yeah, we’re part of this body too. We aren’t in the holding zone, waiting to become true members once we tie the knot. We’re in this covenant family, also. We need you. You need us.
But what about that cavern, the one that separates us? The cavern that causes us to wonder if that mom really cares about my dating life or my career. That cavern that makes a mom wonder if I really care about her, her kids, her issues. I’m here to tell you, loving you includes loving your spouse and kids. It’s a package deal. Loving us means loving our careers our dreams our plans and our friends. Also a package deal.
            But single people are so weird! So awkward!
            Yes, we are. I am sad to say we have yet to pass through the portal of marriage that leads from awkwardness to sudden coolness.
            Wait, there’s a portal like that?
            No, no there is not. It’s fake. There is no such portal.
            Which means you didn’t pass through it.
            Which means we think you’re awkward, too.

            So let us commiserate in our mutual awkwardness. On that we can find common ground. Among other things. So let’s not focus on the cavern that separates us but rather the bridge that binds us.

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