Guest Post – A Single Perspective

On this day before Valentine’s Day I am so excited to have my beautiful niece Amy write for Communicating Across Boundaries. Amy is single – which you may have picked up from the title! And I purposely bring our attention to this single perspective on this day before Valentine’s Day, when suddenly rational people think that they need a partner to be complete. Amy has written for Communicating Across Boundaries before in a fabulous post called “So Many Proposals”, a post that I highly recommend you read if you missed it. But for now she brings you: 

A Single Perspective by Amy

cupid-single-love-sex-valentines-day-ecards-someecards

I have reached a point in my life where I cannot seem to get away from engagement announcements. They seem to follow me wherever I go. Provided, I am a 20-something living in the day and age when social media has taken over the world. One would point out that I am of “prime” marrying age, so I shouldn’t be surprised that the number of rings adorning my friends’ fingers is rising exponentially.

Until recently, I have felt particularly annoyed and frustrated about the topic of “marriage” or “dating” or “relationships”. Why? Because my 25.5 years of existence have been spent as single as a “single person” could be. (And I expect this Valentines’ day to be spent in the same way that the last 25 have been: lacking a “plus-one”)

What has frustrated me the most is the societal connotation that marriage (i.e. finding your life partner, your other half, your soul mate) is the ultimate fulfillment of life. Thus, single people are incomplete, unfulfilled, or severely lacking in a serious way.

You may read this and think, “She’s ridiculous. Of course single people are valuable and fulfilled.” But in all seriousness, look at the culture in which we live. Movies. TV. Music. Books. Commercials. The majority of stories in any form of media today have some form of love interest. Even if it is a broken relationship or even just a side story. Particularly, in the Church and Christian communities, there is an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) expectation for 20-somethings to be married (or actively seeking).

As I mentioned, it has only been until recently that I have overcome my frustration in this topic. For a very long time, I did believe myself to be unfulfilled, incomplete, or somehow inadequate as a result of my singleness and the fact that no one (as of yet) has had any desire to marry me.

This year, my family celebrated Christmas together at my parents’ house in Wisconsin. I had the realization that the Marrieds currently outnumber the Singles in my family (4 to 3). We had a discussion one day about how Marrieds and Singles each face a unique set of challenges when it comes to navigating social landscapes and finding genuine love and support in a community. (Each group does, however, enjoy a unique set of perks as well) It was at that point that we realized that neither group truly appreciates the struggles of the other.

What we need to do is debunk the idea that having one relational status is any better or worse than having any other relational status. It’s just different.

Individually and collectively, we put far too much weight on our marital status as a defining factor of our identities.

I will take a moment to note that I do not at all intend on discounting the immense value and blessing of marriage. I do have a deep desire to be married and to raise a family someday. We need to be able to find a balance between glorifying marriage and the alternative: glorifying singleness—and I dare say the answer is simply to glorify God. He is, in fact, the creator of us all and facilitator of all relationship s.

God created humans to be in relationship with Him first and each other second.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength and the second is like it, to love one another. First and foremost, as Singles and Marrieds, pursuit of relationship with God and finding one’s identity in Christ should always come first.

1 Corinthians 7 is where Paul addresses this topic by saying is oft quoted declaration that “I wish you were all as I am…” i.e. single. But if you have to, as a result of your lacking self-control and in order to avoid burning passion, you should get married. I, personally, have found there to be a lot of tension in this passage. The Single in me, says “That’s right! Power to the Single people!”. But the cultural expectation and inner desire for marriage say “What about us?”.

Let’s break it down for a sec. At the time that this passage was written, particularly for women, your economic and social status (and general livelihood) were intimately tied to your marital status. Marriage was synonymous with security on a great number of levels. Ultimately, marital status WAS your identity. Essentially, Paul is taking a cultural norm, a cultural expectation, and blowing it out of the water.

What Paul is saying is that it’s better to be single because it’s easier to devote yourself to serving God and seeking after his will (I mean, seriously, nuns and monks!). It’s harder to do that when you devote yourself to another person in marriage. What he’s not saying is that celibacy and remaining single is the end all be all of human existence. He’s also not saying that marriage is either. The end all be all of human existence is to please God. Relational or marital status does not define your value or how “fulfilled” you are. Only God can do that.

If I have learned anything in my 25 years on this planet, it’s that God calls us each to different seasons of life at different times for specific purposes. I fully intend on embracing this season of singleness to live it to its fullest potential, in the hopes that when I do get married, I will be able to live that season to its fullest.

What about you? If you’re single, how do you deal with a world of couples? If you’re married, how do you include your single friends? 

***************

Amy brown

Amy is a twenty-something woman living in Washington DC. She spends her time with Autistic children, baking things, and taking pictures of the aforementioned (and other things). She has traveled the world leaving pieces of herself, even as she gathers pieces of the world to take along with her. Enhanced by Zemanta

23 thoughts on “Guest Post – A Single Perspective

  1. Time and again I’ve had to tell a well-meaning friend “Look, I am not a marriage-waiting-to-happen. I am whole, as I am.” In my experience, churches are the biggest culprit in advancing the myth that we are not whole until we are coupled.

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  2. It begins with the fairy tales read out to kids, “then they were married and lived happily ever after”, its conditioning the kids at a very early age to think that if you are not married there can be no happily ever after. The truth is that married or single there is no happily ever after, there are pressures and challenges to meet and moments of happiness to gather throughout life like beads on a rosary.
    Some people can be happy in the worst of situations other can have everything yet only complain. I feel that there is something for us in every moment and situation of our lives, things that when taken positively can make us better human beings and if taken negatively can do damage. It is in how we handle them.
    I can understand the pressure to marry, i come from an Indian background and married when i was 25, when everyone else was marrying at 18. it wasn’t the lack of suitors, just that none of them made me feel like He was the one, till I met my husband.
    Life has been full of challenges, it has been a real wild roller coaster ride but there have been many many moments of pure happiness and deep satisfaction despite all the challenges. Those moments have made everything else worth it.

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  3. I really enjoyed your perspective, Amy. How true that our primary relationship should be the Lord Jesus and those who know fulfillment in Him may be able o say they are not lonely in the human sense as singles. There are many spouses, I believe, who are actually ‘lonely’ in their relationships!

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    1. Absolutely Karen! It is no wonder to me at all why we see so many broken relationships in this day and age…as long as people seek fulfillment in other people and not in God, we will always fall short. Thank you for your comment!

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  4. Thank you for your thoughtful post, Amy. I was not married until I was nearly 31, so I have struggled with many of the same pressures. I also tried to live a full single life and was able to minister to many people during that chapter. It was a rich time! In Mexico, the 14th is “The Day of Love and Friendship,” so it is a time when friends and family reaffirm their appreciation for each other, as well as couples. My MK daughter told me last night that she was shocked by the number of “I hate Valentine’s Day” posts that she saw on FB. She has always associated the day with small gifts, a red meal, and American candy. I think we can learn something from our Latin friends!

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  5. Amy, I’m reading your post just after reading today’s post about celebrating marriage, and I am torn between the two! I didn’t get married until I was 34 (1 1/2 years ago). I definitely had feelings of loneliness and longing to be married all through my 20s and early 30s. But I also loved the freedom of singleness and the amazing and diverse community of friends I had (many who were also single). It was a sweet, sweet time of life, that now that I’m married I wish I had appreciated more than I did at the time. I love my husband, and I love being married, but I also miss so much about my single life. What no one talks about in marriage is that there is often a different kind of loneliness. As a single woman, I had really deep friendships with other women (both single and married); as a married woman, those friendships have been harder to cultivate, especially as a non-mom surrounded by so many moms. We live in Kenya now, and there are several single missionaries here, some of whom really want to get married. I get that desire, but I want to say to them, “Enjoy this time in your life! Enjoy the freedom and the flexibility and being able to pursue your own dreams without the complication of figuring out how to incorporate someone else’s dreams into yours (or yours into his). Enjoy all the time to spend with lots of different kinds of people without needing to prioritize one person over them all. Enjoy the time you have to explore your own interests. Marriage has its perks, but being single has so many perks too.”

    Thank you for exploring a balance between the two. I agree with Laura G. about that particular quote. That was my favorite too.

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    1. Thanks so much for your response Jen. You articulated exactly what my family and I talked about when we got together over Christmas– that Marrieds and Singles have different and unique challenges!

      I think that Singles (who want to be married) often glamorize marriage in a “the grass is greener” kind of a way. And what I have learned is that Marrieds do the same for singleness occasionally! One of my favorite repeatables that we use at my church is that “the grass is greener where you water it”. It reminds me that it is more fruitful to invest in the grass (relationships) I have now and not constantly be looking at others’ grass (marriages) in want.

      I hope and pray that God will pave the way for you to cultivate and water deep relationships with women in your community (and that it will help the grass of your marriage grow even greener!)

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  6. Amy, thanks so much for sharing! I am in the same stage of life, dealing with the same things. It is an encouragement to hear such a godly perspective on the matter and know that I am not alone :) My mom directed me to this blog, and I’m glad she did! I also grew up as an MK in Cairo and am currently living not too far from DC. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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    1. Amber- this is Marilyn — Amy’s aunt and mom to your elementary school friend Micah:) It was soooo fun to see this message and have memories flood back! I’d love to hear more of what you’re doing. I’m so glad you came by!

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      1. Hi Marilyn! It’s amazing to cross paths again so many years later — the Nile School in Cairo seems like it was in another life-time! I hope things are going well for you and your family. I’ll definitely be revisiting your blog :) Feel free to reach me at my e-mail (amber.racey@gmail.com). I’d love to hear more from you and Amy!

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  7. Amy, this is great. I’m so glad to read your perspective. Single women in Christian ministry in Pakistan had uniquely fulfilling lives, although any Muslim country is a very difficult place for a single woman to live and work. It wasn’t easy for me either as a married woman with kids! But two different sets of challenges. I appreciated the close friendship of several single women and they were very special Aunties to our children. Married or single, I think most of us have to, with Paul, learn to be content in the life God has chosen for us. Looking forward to seeing you soon, and by the
    way, have a happy valentine’s day – there can never be too much love in this poor broken world!

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  8. Don’t feel too bad, I have never dated anyone and I am age 27. I went to my Senior Prom alone and I just do not feel the need to date anyone right now, even though I live in the south, where many people are often married by the late 20’s. There is no reason to feel rushed!

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    1. I agree, there is no reason at all to feel rushed! I am very blessed to have had lots of exciting adventures in my single life….I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

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  9. Really enjoyed this post and will recommend it this evening; I’m sharing with a small group bible study at a women’s college (at their request) about relationships:) Hope we don’t get snowed out!

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  10. Great post. I particularly loved this quote.
    “We need to be able to find a balance between glorifying marriage and the alternative: glorifying singleness—and I dare say the answer is simply to glorify God. He is, in fact, the creator of us all and facilitator of all relationships.”

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