I seem to be suffering from a serious case of "blog about topics I never intended to blog on." Maybe I should start a series....
A few weeks ago I shared an article on social media about singleness and the church's response to people who don't fit into the neat categories of children's ministry, youth group, or married/family boxes, and I think my post was probably misunderstood. (I highly encourage you to read the original article. It's a wonderful read for people in all phases of life!) I personally avoid beginning a public discussion on such issues for fear that people will conclude that I'm discontent or feeling neglected. So, naturally, I decided to turn the topic into a blog post to bring clarity to my direct violation of a personal policy. ツ Besides, it's almost Valentine's, which is always a great time to acknowledge singles.
There is an older Christian man I know who is very sweet and theologically sound. However, every time he approaches me, I can expect that the topic will somehow (whether immediately or not) land on the fact that I am single (and shouldn't be).
One time he asked about my college plans, which topic he often uses to lead into my need for Mr. Sharon. At the time I had recently made some adjustments to my college and career path, and I was actually pretty excited about these changes and about sharing my goals with others. Then he stopped me mid-way and said "have you considered going to ____ Christian College?" (The underlying idea, made quite clear, was that I needed to put myself in situations where getting married would become a near future probability.) I have to admit that this kind of hurt. Not only was he not really listening out of undivided interest; he was also wanting to insert an advertisement for what he thought I should do with my life. I left the situation thinking does he not trust my relationship with God? And the fact that I've prayed over these decisions and battled long hours over what (and where) GOD wants to do with my life? I know that, in reality, he probably does not distrust my relationship with God as a Christian and that he only wants to show concern for my future. But it becomes burdensome when the only interest he and others know how to show toward my life is consumed by the topic of getting married.
He is not the only one like this. There are others, and probably for you as well (assuming you're single), who can't seem to get past the assumption that they should help me move toward a married life. (I find that these people are usually senior citizens...maybe they are just feeling the shortness of life.) And you know what it feels like after so many repeated encounters? It feels like they're trying to plant seeds of discontentment in my life...that they want to applaud a sense of uneasiness over my singleness. It's as if they are confirming the thought that "life starts when you get married" rather than affirming where I feel led right now.
But if I'm not content with God's plan for my life as it is today, how can I expect to be perfectly at peace in His next phase for me? And does God really want me to be initiating and chasing after guys just so I can be married? Honestly, I'm not interested in wasting my time like that, and I'm not interested in being married just to check that off a to-do list.
These people give little reinforcement or even interest toward my life where God has put me now...and I think that's really sad. It's sad to me that so many people are so focused on either kids or couples that they miss the in-between group. It's sad that people are more interested in pressing me toward finding a life partner than in hearing about what God has been teaching me or what makes me excited about life as it is right now or what my current goals are.
I wish these people could see that, while marriage is a gift, singleness is also a gift of its own. I am not missing out on God's blessings just because I'm not married! The blessings are just going to be different. And that is perfectly ok. God makes it pretty clear with Adam and Eve at the very beginning of time that marriage is a gift. But Paul also makes it very clear in 1 Corinthians that being single has a benefits package all of its own as well. I want to be free to rest in the opportunities and gifts that God has put in my present life instead of pining over what I may want my life to look like or what I expected it to be like by now.
The fact is that I'm very content and grateful in the present stage of singleness, and I feel like God has me in this phase for a reason. I don't feel out of place, and God has provided me with wonderful supporters and friends through couples and singles alike. Contrary to the opinion of many Christians I know, my life goal is not to get married and raise those 20 kids I wanted as an 8-year-old. My life goal is to honor God and follow His leading in any and every phase of life that He gives...and to be completely content in doing just that.
So if you are single, too, I encourage you to recognize the benefits in that and use the benefits to their full potential. Be thankful for where you're at because that's probably exactly where God wants you to be.
And if you're married, don't forget to show genuine interest and friendship with singles and encourage them in the journey that God has written for them...not the one you think should be written. We already get a good dose of that from other people. 😏