“WE HAVE THE PERFECT JOB FOR YOU!” exclaimed Church Lady. She was our Bible study leader, and a woman who I had trusted with my dreams and goals. “YOU SHOULD MOVE TO KENYA AND TEACH ENGLISH!”
Sunday mornings are usually pretty groggy for me. It was somewhere around 8 a.m., and I had no coffee in my system. So I couldn’t really be sure I had heard Church Lady correctly. It could have been my Sunday morning stupor clouding my ability to process English words–let alone teach them.
“You want me to what?” I asked. Politely, but candidly.
“Well, we just thought since you didn’t have anything holding you down here–you’d be perfect,” she said, eyeing my full cup of coffee. “You should go to Kenya!”
I blinked, running my fingers over the foam rim of my church-coffee cup, hoping the action would somehow stir movement in my brain.
It did not.
Nothing against Kenya, of course. But did she really believe my time and energy was best spent in Africa? Was my singleness my only qualification? Did she not believe my pursuit of my graduate degree, my friends and my family was strong enough to keep me planted in the United States?
Somehow, in the midst of a two-minute conversation, Church Lady had managed to unravel my very existence. I had already been struggling with questions of my worth.
Clearly, if I wasn’t good enough for a man here, maybe my only answer was Africa...
Church Lady had no idea that suggesting a woman move out of the country solely because she was unattached was on the “no-no” list of things to say to the unwed.
Here are a few more things Church Lady, and other happily-married, engaged, or otherwise coupled friends–with your good, lovely intentions–should avoid saying to singles.
You’re How Old? Oh, Don’t Worry. You’ve Got Plenty of Time!
Is there a black hole of extra time that we singles have been woefully unaware of? Are you somehow aware of a few extra hours in the day that we are not?
Because, honestly, it seems as though our 20s and 30s are roaring like the engine of a bright red Mustang. And the lever on the odometer is about to snap like a twig.
Between the work days, and the volunteering, and being there for our sisters, and the housework (okay, okay, so that's not most everyone’s number one priority), there’s really no time for much else.
Further, we travel to see our families because we’ve moved out of town, and we spend the weeknights investing in our friendships and our communities.
Singles need sleep, too.
Yes, the fact that we don't have children or husbands or mortgages means we're open and available for everyone. Not just our biological, nucleus family members. And that’s an amazing advantage of singleness. But being wonder-women for our churches, families and friends? It takes time. And plenty of it.
And some of us can’t quite see how dating even factors into our daily schedules.
Why is Having a Boyfriend So Important to You Anyway?
It’s a valid question. Really.
On the surface level, your implications aren’t too far-fetched. You’re right in asking. Having a boyfriend is not that important.
In fact, most of us have found that life becomes so much more complicated when there are boyfriends in them.
But, having a boyfriend is not the end-goal. Having a husband, a family, and not…um...dying alone, is.
And not dying alone, or having a family, is a very hard thing to visualize when you’re not even in a committed and/or dating relationship.
So, acquiring a boyfriend is step one. Because the dating books tell us so.
It Will Happen When You Least Expect It
Or, he’ll come to you when you stop looking for him.
Honestly, most of us have stopped looking for him. The process has become so painful, so disappointing, so grueling, that we’ve given up all together.
We’re just so worn out from being treated poorly. This is why our hearts race for joy when we see his name pop up in our text inbox.
We were never expecting it.
Then the inevitable, it seems, happens. The weeks of talking progress and we let ourselves expect a little more from those we date, or are “talking to.” We let this build, until we’re wild with expectation. Like we’re buzzing on too much caffeine, our hands shake and our eyes are wide.
Someone is interested in us.
Then, the other shoe drops. The guys disappear, or we find out something weird about them. They have beginning-relationship remorse, and stop calling.
And what’s funny is, this is what we expected all along.
Maybe You Need to Fall in Love with God First
This seems like the ugliest form of the prosperity gospel. You know, the “if you do enough things right, maybe God will bless you?” way of living?
It’s a falsehood.
Can you honestly tell us you earned your spouse and your family because you loved God enough? Do people who never marry simply not love God? Do we attain these things because we let Jesus romance us?
What does it say for those of us who are single? That we don’t love God enough? Or that we don’t love Him at all?
The very definition of grace has to do with getting what we don’t deserve.
But, Speak These Truths
Loving God isn’t wrong. It just won’t necessarily solve all of your problems. Or open up a swell of blessings to shower over your life.
Why would we be rewarded for something we ought to be doing in the first place?
However, loving God will allow us to be “content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11).
This is, perhaps, what we singles need to hear.
That through God, we may find peace and joy in our current situations. That we may embrace the unique circumstances in our lives that allow us to be unattached for a while. That we may be sisters to the married ladies in our workplaces and congregations.
And that we can truly learn to love and learn from one another.
Yes, we realize your intentions to pull us out of the mire of loneliness or momentary bouts of feeling sorry for ourselves are honorable.
We know that under the unkind, or condescending words you speak to us, you are trying to encourage.
You don’t have to understand or explain why we’re single. We’re trying to figure it out too.
But in the meantime, encourage us. Tell us we’re good enough. Tell us we’re cherished even though we’re not being romanced by a man.
Tell us that we’re loved. That we’re beautiful. And that we’re worthy.
Because those are words we can never hear enough.
Brett Wilson is a Christ-loving, single, curly-haired, left-handed coffee-addict. She is a public relations writer in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Brett lives with her best friend and a Boston Terrier named Regis. You can read more from Brett at her site, www.amanworthwritingfor.com, or on Twitter.