Friday, August 22, 2014
Stuff Church People Say to Singles, Part 5.
I think its natural to assume everyone is in the same place in life as we are. So sometimes in conversation I'm asked about my spouse/kids and I say I'm not married.
Church People Say: Oh.... (Generally accompanied by wide panic-eyes and a smile/grimace... a smimace.)
Translation: Wow. I'm super uncomfortable right now for making you admit that you're single. And also, I kind of want to ask if you're a lesbian, but I'm not sure how.
Consider: I think this gets to the crux of it. You shouldn't be embarrassed for me when I tell you I'm single. I'm not embarrassed for me. In fact, in a lot of ways I'm proud of myself. I've signed a mortgage, moved, changed a garbage disposal, bought a lawn mower and assembled it and used it, negotiated salaries, pursued my dream, travelled, and all while looking stylish...well, most of the time.
I'm not saying I enjoy taking the trash out all the time. I don't. And bill paying, bleh. But when I'm done with my two-minute pity party, it feels good to know I can do this. I'm strong enough. And not in the diva way where I just snap a Z and plow over everything in the path of my stilettos. But in the way that even when I'm slogging and its hard and I just want to not be in charge for a while...I still make it.
Here's the thing. When I tell you I'm not married, you can just say "Oh, okay," and then ask me about my hobbies, how long I've been in town, where I'm from, do I have family nearby, my pets (adorbs!), my job, etc.
And you can tell me about your kids and your spouse and your hobbies and your pets too. I'm not going to be hurt or shamed because you're married and have procreated. I am pro-whale even though I don't have one. And I am pro-family even though I don't have one.
I'm glad you have a husband and maybe kids as well. I'm not jealous. And I wouldn't take any of it from you if I could. Remember, I'm happy with life too. And even if marriage isn't in the longterm plans for me, still don't feel bad for me. I don't (most of the time.)
The National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University found that the marriage rate for women dropped 60% between 1960 and 2012 to a mere 31 women per thousand. Even when you account for young'uns, that is a lot of singles. And that's just women (and yes, you can be single over 25 and hetero.) If the church has any desire to reach the community around it, the number of singles it interacts with is only going to rise. And I promise, when we're the majority we'll still look at you and see a normal person.
In sum, marital state doesn't define me. Or you. You and I have a whole lot in common, only I have to take the trash out all the time. And if you make a slip and say something I've mentioned this week, don't panic. It's certainly not the first time I've heard it, nor will it be the last. I guess I just want people to think about the assumptions made about the unwed.
So get to know us! We're fun! And you may find that lifelong friend you've been hoping for!