C is for Christian Singleness. Myth #3: Christian Singles belong in the church. There is no reason for them to feel any different.
This post is probably not going to be relevant to you if you are not in some kind of Christian circle. But maybe it will be because the reason you are not in some kind of Christian circle is due to not feeling like you belong there.
I have grown up in church circles my whole life. I went to a private Christian college, where pretty much everyone was there to get married and have babies. I would be kidding myself if I thought any differently. I grew up in a family where if you weren't married by 21 you got less money for Christmas (not my immediate family). I grew up knowing that marriage was important. It was ordained by God. He created family. I grew up knowing that one day I would get married, I just didn't want it to be right after high school, or college for that matter.
Here's what I didn't grow up hearing though. I didn't grow up hearing that it is okay if you never get married. Now I want to be clear I am not talking about my family. In fact I feel like my parents are some of the most supportive parents a person could ever have. Our family has had its moments, but really we all love and care, and support each other way more than some of my friend's families do.
What I am talking about is the church. The church itself. The church that makes a big deal out of families, and people needing to be with someone. The church that basically says if you aren't married and don't have kids by a certain date, then you don't have anywhere to belong. The church would never say this out loud. The church would never on purpose hurt people, but it is just those comments like, "well you have so much free time," or "you don't understand because you don't have a husband, or children," or the inevitable, "just wait for God's timing," my favorite one is, "when you are not looking, that is when you will meet someone." Or the.... "to be single again," statement. Most of the time these statements aren't meant to cause harm. But to the single person that has been praying, and living life the best they can single these statements can be heart-wrenching, crushing statements.
I serve in my current church because I want to. For the longest time though I didn't. I have a gift with kids. I get them, I love hanging out with them, and I truly know that I am able to reach them on a level some adults can't. I want that to be the reason that I serve with the kids, not just because I am single, and people deem me as having nothing better to do with my time.
I actually had a former boss talk about her sister-in-law, and basically say that she didn't know what stress was because she didn't have kids, and that their family was just so much busier and more stressed out, etc.
I will never claim that my life is comparable to someone with kids, or a husband. That's just the thing though, it isn't comparable. We can't compare what we have been handed against someone else. We all were created for a reason, and purpose that is individual and unique to the gifts that we have been given.
What we can do though is stop excluding people because of their marital status, or how many kids they do or don't have. We can engage in community with those that are different from us. We can teach each other what it means to be walking down a path that we didn't imagine for ourselves. We can stop acting like God only blesses people that are married, and have the traditional family unit. We can stop bringing our kids up to in environments where they will feel less than if they do not get married and have kids. We can show our kids, our communities that serving God single, is just as important as serving him as a couple. We can teach our kids that there only purpose in life is not to give us grandkids. I don't know how many people I have heard proclaim... "well it's okay we can make it through this phase, because one day they are going to give me grandbabies." STOP.... what if they don't! What if you are never a grandparent. Will your life still be worth something? Is their life still worth something?
This is a really big issue for me... I don't want to write anymore than I have to keep the length in check, but I want you to think about where you see marriage, singleness, and community. Think about it. Think about what you would do if your child never got married and had kids. Yes teach them how to be parents, and aunts and uncles. Teach them how to care for other human beings, but don't let their worth and value lie in something that may not depend on them.
Let's let our new Christian culture be one in which people aren't afraid to be single at church. They feel just as welcomed, just as loved, just as important as the rest of those in the community. Let's change the conversation, and open up dialogue for belonging, and understanding to reconcile a community that needs healing.