Prone to rant: 4 confessions of a 30 something single Christian

I had an “interesting” and mercifully brief conversation over the weekend with a stranger who warned me about my childless state and my ticking biological clock on the happy occasion of Father’s Day. In the moment, I could think of nothing logical or humorous with which to flip a very awkward interaction, so I did what any sane person would do these days and posted the synopsis on Facebook.

The post generated far more feedback than I anticipated, which led me to believe that this was a topic ripe for discussion. So in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve complied this helpful list of four confessions of a 30-something single Christian.

lonely

Editor’s note: I feel as though I need to add the “Christian” disclaimer because I find that the situations which elicit these confessions to be more prevalent in, though not exclusive to, Christian circles, so take that for what it’s worth. Additionally, I can only speak from my perspective and the interactions I have with close single friends. This isn’t meant to paint a wide, stereotypical brush for all single people; it’s just real and personal observations…

1. Many (though not all) single people desire to be married or in relationship. That desire often falls on a spectrum, ranging anywhere from despair that love will never find you to near-delight at the notion that you have absolutely no one to dictate your time, money, or interests (like taking a week-long vacation to visit friends in Brazil just because you can). Rarely is anyone static for long on one spot of that spectrum, so don’t assume that someone is at one extreme or the other.

2. Even if a single person has wondered, legitimately, whether they have Paul’s “gift of singleness”, it’s rarely up to you to ask or assume this (if this Christian colloquialism is confusing, check out 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 for Paul’s own explanation on his state of singleness). I can count on two hands the number of people with the relational capital between the two of us to ask or imply any sort of question this deep. If we’re not close enough to discuss, say, what medications you’re on, we’re probably not close enough for any serious conversation about relationships and singleness issues beyond the Christian-ese pleasantries.

3. Honestly, sometimes Paul’s “gift of singleness” truly feels like a gift. I’ll admit it: there’s a big selfish part of me that looks at the sacrifices and compromises required of a good, God-honoring marriage, and I wonder whether I’m up for it (sorry, mom and dad*). I recognize this is a quasi-heretical statement to some people, even some single friends, but hear me out. I’m in a season of life where I have wide latitude to serve God in a lot of different ways, and LOTS of single people I know recognize this as a gift and serve God faithfully in lots of ministries. But that also means I can book tickets to Seattle to visit a friend without a second thought. I can arrange my budget how I like. I get to pick the movies I watch. And a lot of the times, this freedom is fantastic. (But not all of the time; see #1 above.)

4. People are single for lots of different reasons. For the most part, I’m around people who simply haven’t found the right person yet. But I know plenty of people recovering from divorce, broken hearts, broken marriages, or the death of a spouse. Unless you know someone’s story, it’s a bit dangerous to assume anything about it. To the (again, well-meaning) woman who warned about the fading hours of my child-producing years: what if I had lost a child? What if I had health issues that made biological kids impossible? While I have little problem discussing these things with people interested in real conversation, not everyone shares this level of vulnerability (see #2 above). Be careful that you’re not pouring salt on a wound.

I’d love for relationship and family to be in my future, but since they haven’t happened yet, I’m content in this space and time and place right now. And I’m absolutely OK with that. But based on personal experience (and about 40 comments on that original Facebook thread), the most helpful thing for me and my tribe (stay strong, fellow singles) probably isn’t to warn us of impending infertility or ask “why the heck aren’t you married yet?!” Because if I could answer that question, I probably wouldn’t be single.

If I haven’t alienated every blessed reader yet: what about you? What do you wish more people knew about singleness? What were some of your best or worst memories of singleness if you’ve moved out of that season of life? What do you wish you had done while you were single that would be hard or impossible to do now? This is a safe space, friend, so comment away…

*–For the record, I don’t count myself among the people that are truly and honestly OK w/ life-long singleness, in case anyone was confused (read: mom and dad).

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Prone to rant: 4 confessions of a 30 something single Christian

  1. Love this list… here’s a great big AMEN! I think another interesting thing that has happened in my 30’s is a gained perspective of what marriage really looks like which, in my opinion, leaves us singles a bit more prepared to make better choices and face marriage with the true reverence and, dare I say, caution that it deserves. I’ve seen lots of my “young married” friends go through things in marriage that they never imagined. I’d rather go into marriage with a healthy perspective of the work and sacrifice that is required… and frankly, I’m glad I’ve had the years I’ve had to simply become “me”.

    On the topic of biological clocks though, and on the flip side of the “you biological clock is ticking” comments… If one more person tells me not to worry, that Sarah had Isaac at 90 years old, I really might lose it. Just saying.

    • You know how you should respond when someone insinuates that you could be like Sarah? “Yeah, but it’s not like I’m dating Abraham!” Stay strong, friend!

      • This seems to be a “hot” topic. 🙂 And yet with all the conversations about it, people (married people, people trying to encourage singles) are STILL getting it so very wrong. I guess we just keep trying. haha!

  2. Yeah, I don’t know why there is a culture in the church of telling single people “you better get married before it’s too late!” Like, you do remember it takes two to make that happen, right? I got married pretty late, at 32. Not my desire to wait that long, but I would’ve had to marry someone else to do it much earlier, because my husband is 7 years younger than me!

    As for infertility, um, you’re a guy. From what I understand, a healthy guy can father children in retirement age or beyond. Who is this uneducated person who thinks you’ll lose your fertility in your 30’s?? (And why does he/she feel free to discuss that with you? Weirdos.)

    • Great thoughts, Danae. It’s interesting, because so many people would not consider 32 “late” to get married (I’m 30 now). And I didn’t have the heart to give the sweet lady a biology lesson on procreation and fertility!

  3. This was a great read! A very dear relative (whom you know well) is still single as well, so this subject holds a special place in my heart. Thank you for being transparent!
    As far as a favorite memory of singleness (married 7yrs now) is traveling to South Africa to help in an orphanage and share the gospel as I created relationships with people! Also, working at a summer camp investing in the lives of teens. I wish I would have had more time to do these things, however, I wouldn’t trade my husband and kids for anything…just wished I would have enjoyed the season of life a little more.

  4. Well said, Dustin and Mariah.
    A friend of mine who got divorced when her twins were about one said to me, “It’s better to be single and wish you were married than married and wish you were single.” She’s now living in a different country, happily married with 6 kids – 2 hers, 2 his, and 2 theirs. Her strong faith carried her through horrible times with her ex.

    I was thinking about Sarah just recently. In a few more years the question of whether or not I should have children will resolve itself. But I have friends who adopted a ten-year-old, and others who adopted a toddler in their mid-40s.

    • Yep, your comment reminds me of a statement my pastor made a while ago regarding marriage and relationships. He said “There’s definitely something worse than wanting what you don’t have: not wanting what you do have.” It’s a helpful perspective to remember when needing to be content in any season.

  5. Dustin, thanks for the great post, and for being so open and honest.

    I understand the situation all too well, as I did not get married until I was 36, and people would say the same things to me. Throughout my 20s I wasn’t interested in getting married, but eventually I grew tired of living on “Lonely Street.” My Mother also used to tell me that it was better to wish you were married than to wish you weren’t – but I always thought that was too easy for someone who was happily married to say to a single person.

    I am so incredibly thankful that God finally brought Elise into my life – she was the best thing that ever happened to me, and she made the long wait worth every minute. Now, I have experienced singleness from both ends of the spectrum and neither one is fun. Even though I have the memories of all those wonderful years with her, it doesn’t make up for the fact that I no longer have her.

  6. We talked about this at church last night -our mom and dad and Pastor. I’m sort of in a weird place, being friends with you and your parents. I think they were even flabbergasted by that conversation. Kudos for handling it so well. I’ll say this: I was blessed with parents who never seemed to be concerned about my singleness. What a gift!

    • Thanks, Sandi. I was really more amused by it than anything, since I’ve heard those same sorts of comments for years. And as far as my parents go, I may give them a hard time in these blog posts, but they’re actually pretty great when it comes to this kind of thing. I rarely feel any pressure from them, but I also don’t want them learning anything new from a blog post!

  7. Well said, Dusty! Being single is not a deficiency that needs a ‘cure.’ It’s quite fun, most of the time…and you get the benefit of imagining the still-endless possibilities of where this life can take you. Someday maybe I’ll find someone to join this adventure and plot a few more – but life goes by quickly enough, and I believe God gave me this time for a reason. I had to comment because your post was spot-on – hope you are well, and thanks for the reading!

  8. Pingback: Prone to share: Getting to know you | Prone to wander

Please leave a reply!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s