Sunday, June 6, 2010

All the Single Ladies...

"So why aren't you married?" a friend said to me, recounting an interview she'd had recently with a potential church in her denomination.

I sighed. She agreed. We both liked to say that our respective denominations would be beyond that, be beyond seeing the lack of a wedding ring as something of concern. As if being "never married" is akin to having a criminal record or a full-face tattoo of a spider web.

"So what'd you say?" I asked.

"What you said your response is: it just hasn't happened."

After being asked the question far too many times during my various encounters with the church, I finally wondered why it mattered, this never being married thing. Obviously, some people wonder if we never-marrieds are really gay (most times not, in case that matters) or have some trauma that keeps us from said relationship (perhaps, but I've also seen lots of married folk with deep trauma who fled to a relationship for a "fix"). Maybe it matters because we never-marrieds are fine with who we are and aren't looking for someone to make our lives better or, in that ridiculous Jerry Macguire parlance, complete. Or we just remind people that marriage is not a reward, but simply something that happens to some and not others. God kind of works that way, slipping life in your path as you have other ideas and notions about what you should be doing. God knows exactly what we need in our lives to do the job and live the life we offer God.

Don't get me wrong. Some days I wonder what having a permanent fixture of a man in my life would look like, what coming home to that someone special would feel like after a long day. And, one evening on my back porch as I said this to a married friend, she sat for a long time in silence before speaking.

"Well, here's a secret we marrieds don't like to say. Sometimes we wonder what life would look like single."

Hmmm. So that grass being greener works on several levels. I'm not against marriage or long-term relationships or dating or even keeping company with a man or woman who meets one's needs. I am against assuming that a lack of a wedding in one's history matters in a way that is significant. I know fabulous, joyful people who are married, never-married, divorced, widowed, and partnered, and I strive to accept them just as they are, because isn't that the real question from God?

Can you see the value of people without trying to smush them into categories so you can think you know something about them without actually having to get to know something about them? Will we seek and serve Christ in all people, accepting them as they are and creating a full community?

So, all the single ladies (and men), know this: you are amazing, just as you are. Use the good china, take up the whole bed, and fill your life with all the people you need, because God needs you, just as you are.

7 comments:

Josephine- said...

I too have been asked that question as part of my COM interviews. Thank goodness the Standing Committee didn't feel the need to probe my singleness.

Thanks for this.

Maria said...

Ugh. That stinks. We are not as hung up on the nuclear family thing here (Sweden), but that still happens every now and then.
Moreover, the same "greener grass"-thing goes the other way too. We married folk are asked about if/when we will have children (or, slightly more elegantly: How does your family life look?), and in case we already have, if/when the next one is planned. Because everybody knows that being a parent makes for more sick days.

Not that one's family (however that looks, I am one of those who believes that everyone has family, but that in some cases that means a close knit group of friends, in others a mom, in others hubby and two dogs, or whatever) isn't important, but they are hiring one person, not a group. They should bother about that one person's qualities, not wedding bands.

Rant over and out.

DSM said...

Yes, Maria, they are hiring a person, not a group. Thanks for that comment, and thanks for reading.

Bridget said...

Thank you so much for this. It is hard to remember ones self in this minsitry when so often others are asking more concerned about my lack of husband, than about my pastoral abilites.

Christopher said...

Amen!

Joie said...

I find it interesting that parishes harp so much on one's "unmarried" status when I see them expect a married person with children to live and act as if they have no responsibilities outside the parish itself. Mind you, a single person has responsibilities outside parish life -- tending to oneself, friends, extended family, family of choice, etc.

Raewynne J. Whiteley said...

Oh yes...! The number of times people have got hung up about this is beyond counting. And they still expect me to do all the things that a rector does, plus the rector's wife things. No, I'm not hosting a cookout at the rectory following the all-day fundraiser...and if you want a parish event at the rectory, we have to get someone to cater and clean up, because I haven't worked out how to be with people at the same time as I'm cooking, etc.