I got engaged on my birthday. I've taken one rather large step towards not being single anymore.
Which is interesting, because the first of the year has been all about singleness. And I mean all kinds of singleness. Lonely, productive, fulfilling, isolating, and especially the seeking kind.
Our church, RUMC, is not too successful at supporting our singles. While the "traditional" family set has been upheld throughout our Christian society as the panacea for a life that is lacking, it certainly is not the norm. In the Bible you find person after person who had multiple wives (solomon), came from an "abnormal" home (Jesus, and I am going to start avoiding the term broken because that implies you can't fix it), or were single (John the Baptist, oh....and Jesus). In lifting up the family, modern Christianity has whispered lingering thoughts that something must be wrong with you if you haven't found a wife/hubby and started popping out babies. This is only exacerbated by well-meaning Christians constantly sticking their nose into your business about who you are dating, how we can hook you up, when are you going to join the rest of society type talk... my favorite is when people will say to me after church, "One day you'll get married and then you'll be a real preacher." Yeah.
Which is why singles of all walks of life have been on my heart this month. I am suddenly much closer to being less single and honestly, I don't think I'm getting married to end it. My fiance, Cheryl, is extremely sensitive to the fact that we have developed a relationship that she wishes others could experience. Of course, she isn't implying I find another girlfriend and make it provocative, she just means that deep meaningful relationships are something everyone deserves.
I'm feeling like we have let these people down too. On the fringe of community, single moms, single folks, divorced singles, single singles, only children, and a host of other "loners" are missing out on relationships like what jesus described. He likened the Church as a bride for God, and as the body of Christ, we have not been getting our singles "wed" to this God whom we worship.
Truthfully, the painful thing is that God is all about community. I both want to affirm the wholeness of a person, regardless of marital relations while emphasizing that it is good that we are not alone. With 21st Century's definition of a family shrinking smaller and smaller, we squeeze out the loners so they don't belong any more. What a shame, when we are all single at some point in life. We have all felt what it is to be on the outside. And we have all found worth hopefully somewhere deep inside ourselves when we realize the image of God resides in our own heart.
Ultimately, I think Jesus had the right idea. He was the ultimate "only son" and yet never stopped bringing people into his family. If we could remember, or have just a taste of what it is to be alone, maybe Christians would be a lot more sensitive to how we pester our brothers and sisters who need to belong, and are trying dang it, to enjoy life to the fullest. With or without a spouse.
I hope that as I trek into a new way of living, God will keep me sensitive to those who I am proud to be a part of, even now. The singles.