Two days ago we had our major camp fundraiser. Besides the hours of prep and people organization that go into that event before hand, I really don't have a ton of responsibilities that night. Mostly I go around and thank people for coming or thank people for making the night happen. It's a lot of shaking hands, making small talk for brief moments, and being pulled a thousand different directions to try and say hello to everyone in a short amount of time. Then it happend again. By it, I mean something that has happend more times then I care to count. I get introduced to a middle aged friend of a big supporter of our ministry and she starts trying to get to know me:
How old are you? 25. 25 and working for the Lord.... oh that's great! Are you married? No. I am not. Have a girlfriend? No. Not at the moment. Ohhh that's too bad. Everyone in ministry needs a great spouse to partner with them. Someone to be their rock and the bread winner of the family. Then she winks at me. As if to say: Seriously there is something wrong with you. Why isn't this your top priority? Thankfully I am pulled away moments later.
How do I respond to these comments? Usually I just sit there and take it. Mostly because part of me does wonder is there something wrong with me? I went to a school that was 65% women and packed to the brim with the type of person who would be a good potential spouse candiate. Yet, I didn't meet that person. A lot of my close friends did find their special someone and now most are married or getting married and it makes me wonder, did I do it all wrong? Is there something wrong with me that has driven this person away from me? However the real problem is I buy into a lie.
My value is found in who I date and eventually who I marry.
I don't want that statement to be something I internally believe, but my thoughts and actions often tell a different story. This is a battle I will continue fighting because it is one that is real to me.
Usually I ignore these thoughts and feelings by pouring even more energy into the ministry and my work. I've often joked that Youth Forum should keep me in a constant frustrating pursuit of a mate, because it's when I am most productive. None of this is particularly healthy either, but I'll share those struggles in another post.
My point in sharing all of this is two fold.
1. Truth creates conversation, community and accountability.
2. I think this is a dangerous systemic value that we in christian communities reinforce.
In fact, I renfoced it the other day. I was giving a guy talk in coordination with an absestnsice speaker. The words There is someone out there for you came out of my mouth. I couldn't believe I said it. Much like a new parent is caught stunned in there tracks when they repeat a phrase their parents used that they swore would never come from their lips. Here I was, teaching something that I don't think lines up with scripture. Bad news.
The simple fact is God calls people to singleness and we as a church are not ok with this. We value those in a committed relationship as more complete then those who are not. Why? I am not sure... I do know that most christian absence until marriage speakers often paint it as a journey with a goal line and that goal line is getting married so you can have sex.
There isn't much I can do to fix systematic issues. However, I can take action steps in my relationship, friendship and ministry bubbles. Here are my action steps:
1. Be ok with being single
2. Be ok with others being single
3. Let others know it's ok to be single
4. In love, challenge the view that marriage is completeness and singleness is not
Let me tell you something. I hope to meet that someone special and I hope we fall hopelessly head over heals in love. I hope that person strengthens my relationship with the Lord and I am able to do the same for her. However that's not a promise of scripture. Some of us are called to be single. Personally that's not a life I hope for or one that I think I am being called to. But to say that a calling from God to be single isn't a gift would be a dangerous claim. So, if the Lord is calling me to that, I will fight my flesh and try hard to see it as a gift for anyone, including me.