“You are so cute, why are you still single?”
I received this question countless times when I first was heading overseas and raising support in churches. While it was meant as a compliment, it gave me a complex. “Is something wrong with me? Why am I not married yet?
There I was, trying to follow God no matter my relationship status, and each time the question arrived, there was an underlying message—you should already be married by now.
Cuteness is not a guarantee for marriage, I suppose.
Fast forward a few years, I returned back home for a second round of support raising. This time there were less questions about marriage. Perhaps many already assumed that my “expiration date” had passed. There was a time or two, however, when I did get an exasperated person asking:
“Don’t you WANT to be married!?!”
There was an assumption that I was running from marriage. My answer was always, “Yes. I’d LOVE to be married. I’m not sure, aside from my vocational choices, why I’m still…not.”
We have expectations in the Church. Expectations that everyone will eventually marry. My dad used to say, “There is someone for everyone.” I’ve been questioning for a while now if that’s true, at least in the Church. I know far too many singles who haven’t found their someone yet.
The older I get, the more I wonder about the Church’s message—spoken and unspoken—to singles. Are we, as the Church, teaching singles to THRIVE—to live and lead from a place of healthy singleness?
In his book, Emotionally Healthy Leader, Peter Scazzero rocked my world in his discussion on this topic. Before reading his book, I never put the words “healthy” and “singleness” together in a sentence. What does “healthy singleness” even mean? I don’t want to be single, so I don’t need a healthy singleness!
To help us, we could rephrase the question like this:
- Are we teaching singles “not [to] over function…at the expense of living a healthy and balanced single life” (EHL 89)?
- Are we helping our single friends and family members see that a “key factor…in discovering God’s will…is the impact it will have on [his/her] ability to live a whole, rich, and healthy single life” (EHL 89)?
Sometimes we say one thing and our actions say another. “Singles can do more for God” becomes an opportunity for churches to abuse singles and overwork them, while encouraging couples to foster a healthy marriage by taking time for themselves. We think about healthy marriages; we don’t often think of healthy singleness. No wonder why many singles are unhappy in the Church!
In this day and age when there are more singles than ever before in our culture, we need to do a better job at celebrating singleness, even if it isn’t the desired outcome most dream of. We need to be loving and serving singles by asking them:
- Are you taking care of yourself—physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.?
- Are you fostering a healthy, intimate relationship with God?
- It’s harder to stay connected to others who don’t live with you, how are your relationships with close family and friends?
Let’s commit, as the Church, to promote healthy marriages AND healthy singleness!