Tag Archives: loaded phrases

We’re All More Than We First Appear

19 Nov

My blog name makes me uncomfortable. It didn’t start out that way, but in the time since Passover, when I started this blog, I’ve had various people comment on the name. I’ve had someone ask me if I’m a racist because of my blog name. I’ve had someone else tell me the “white” part seemed weird. And I find myself, more and more often, talking about SWC instead of Single White Christian.

So why Single White Christian?

I was trying to accomplish two things with my blog name. I wanted to be 1) funny and 2) honest.

Funny, because it’s like a personal ad, right? SWF seeking SWM, GWM seeking GWM, SWM seeking SWF for FWB LOL. Except, of course, it isn’t funny if I have to explain it.

Honest, because I need to acknowledge upfront that, while I feel my life has known hardship, I am still speaking from a place of privilege. I can’t pretend to speak from any other point of view than a single, white, Christian woman. I can’t speak for gay people or black people. I can’t speak for men. I can’t speak for Asians or Frenchmen or Australians, for that matter, but I thought Single White Straight Lower-Middle-Class USian Christian might be too hard to remember.

I want to open a dialogue with people of other backgrounds and worldviews. I want to ask questions and learn from people, and maybe find something I can teach others. And if I start off by using language that is off-putting to others, I’ve already put myself at a disadvantage.

After my last conversation about the name of this blog, I started thinking about renaming the blog. I talked it over with a good friend who’s been super supportive of this effort…and who finally admitted that she felt a little weird about the white part. Rather than renaming, though, she suggested a redefining.

SWC means Single White Christian, yes. But what else can SWC mean?

  • Seeking Welcoming Church
  • Saved With Christ
  • Sharing Wonderful Companions
  • Shoulda Woulda Coulda
  • Sleep/Wake Cycle
  • Single Without Children
  • Snarky While Charming?

What do you guys think? Did the name confuse you? Make you angry? Make you ask questions? Would it be better if I found something else to call this blog? (And if you say yes to that, you’d better have some clever suggestions!)

Or do I own this name? Do I inhabit this name? Do I say, “Yes, I called it this. Yes, I realize now that it makes people uncomfortable. Yes, I know better now. But no, I’m not covering up this mistake?”

Or do you think it wasn’t a mistake at all? Do you actually (gasp) like the name? Did you see the blog name and think, “Yeah, I can identify with this chick?”

Let me know!

Can I Get a Vaccine for the Season of Singleness?

15 Nov 'INFLIGHT' photo (c) 2011, Person of Interest - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Today I want to discuss a phrase that, to me, is like nails on a chalkboard. It’s one I see thrown around all the time on blogs about singleness, marriage, family, and loneliness. Yes, it’s the dreaded season of singleness.

I have a lot of problems with this phrase. For one thing, it implies something temporary. This too shall pass. April showers bring May bridal showers. That sort of thing.

For another thing, it sounds awfully close to something nasty and unwanted. Flu season. Fever season. Singleness season. Yech!

The thing about implying that singleness is temporary is…well, sometimes it’s not. Some people are going to be lifelong singles. Happy or sad, content or kicking-and-screaming, some people will not get married. Take me for instance: I know thirty-six isn’t old, and I know I may someday still get married if that’s what God wants for me, but trust me–my singleness hasn’t been a season, it’s been an epoch.

Another good reason to avoid implying singleness is temporary is the accompanying implication that everyone should desire to end their singleness. When I hear season of singleness, I hear, just a phase, she’ll grow out of it. It comes across as misunderstanding at best and condescending at worst.

Statistically, maybe a lot of people will end up marrying. But then again, we’re at an all-time high ratio of singles-to-marrieds. Almost half the population is single. Sure, some of them have been married before. Some of them are in long-term dating relationships, or have some sort of committed partnership that, for one reason or another, they haven’t formalized. But the fact is, people are waiting longer to marry, and more people are not marrying at all.

Implying that singleness is temporary, or a state to leave behind, is not necessarily honest and not necessarily helpful. If I view singleness as a transitory state, I’m more likely to:

  • put off embracing adulthood
  • be less responsible with my finances
  • spend all my time craving an end to this “season”
  • focus on my relationship with men instead of my relationship with God
  • require dating and/or marriage to validate my self-worth

This is where the real danger of viewing singleness as a season comes in. If I don’t view myself as a real person until I’ve survived my season of singleness, I’ve missed out on a huge opportunity.

Single people have to make a choice to fully inhabit our present lives. 

We can’t live our lives in a constant holding pattern. We have to seek out God’s will for our lives. We have to learn to build others up, regardless of whether those others are parents, significant others, or friends. We have to leave our future in God’s hands and concentrate on what He’s doing in our present.

Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7: 32-35,

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife–and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Read that last sentence again. Do you get that? Singleness is not a restriction.

'INFLIGHT' photo (c) 2011, Person of Interest - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

INFLIGHT

Singleness is freedom. Freedom to be devoted to the Lord. Freedom to live in a right way. Freedom from the affairs of this world. Freedom from pleasing anyone but the Lord.

Paul reframes singleness in such an amazing way here. Rather than saying we’re worth less than those who have married and had children, he says we’re free! He says we should have fewer concerns than married people!

Isn’t that an amazing feeling?

So let’s stop looking at singleness as a season, as something to be escaped or inoculated against. Let’s stop acting as if singleness is temporary, something we’ll outgrow. Let’s take a look at where we are right now and vow to thrive here.

We are single adults, and we are free.

4 Things To Say to Parents of a Single Adult

8 Nov

On Monday I posted 7 Things Not to Say to Parents of a Single Adult. But I try to follow up my “negative” posts with something more positive and affirming. So today I’m going to present four suggestions of things you can and should say to parents of a single adult.

  1. You must be very proud of your son/daughter. Finding a mate and procreating is something that happens at almost every level of biology. It isn’t really something unique to homo sapiens. So let’s stop acting like marriage and parenthood are the only accomplishments in life. Every adult, single, married, or in-between, has done something to be proud of. Instead of focusing on marital status, look at the other things. Maybe she’s published a book. Maybe he just sealed a major business deal. Maybe she heads up a charity that impacts lives. Maybe he leads a Bible study in his home. Those are all things to be proud of. Celebrate those.
  2. It must be nice not having to share your child with inlaws during the holidays. Growing up, we rarely had this problem, because one set of my grandparents lived in Florida, while the other set lived fifteen miles away, so Dad didn’t see his folks for the holiday. But occasionally we spent the week of Christmas in Florida…and then my mom didn’t get to spend Christmas with her parents. As a single adult, I don’t have this problem. I celebrate Christmas with my parents the way we always have–we read the Christmas story, then open presents on Christmas Eve (it used to be at midnight, but as we all get older, this starts earlier and earlier in the evening). There are almost always bookish presents for everyone, so we stay up late reading our new books, and sleep in late Christmas morning. I don’t have to compromise on Christmas plans, and my parents don’t have to share me.
  3. (When a child moves back home) Aren’t you glad they aren’t married and bringing their spouse and children back home to live with you! Because yes, I actually know a couple of people who moved back in with their parents, with a husband, two kids, and a dog in tow. At least when I moved back, my parents were getting what amounted to an adult boarder in the upstairs. I contributed financially as much as I was able, and in labor, and I didn’t wake them up for midnight feedings or early morning walks.
  4. How has your relationship changed as your child has grown older? Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your friend with single adult offspring. Just don’t focus those questions on the marital or parental status of said offspring. If your friend wants to talk about her kid’s marital status, let her bring it up first.

Single readers, what do you wish people would say to your parents? Parents of singles, what do you wish people would say to you? Chime in!

7 Things Not to Say to Parents of a Single Adult

5 Nov

'SHHHHHH.....DON`T SAY A WORD!' photo (c) 2006, andrea silva - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I’ll be the first person to admit I’m incredibly blessed when it comes to my parents. They don’t believe I’m defective just because I don’t have a spouse. My mom has had plenty of bachelors and bachelorettes in her family. My dad’s brother didn’t marry until he was in his 40s. So my parents have never put pressure on me to get married and raise children. My mother has known since I was very young that I would probably never have kids, and she’s fine with it.

Unfortunately, other people don’t seem to understand my parents’ attitudes about being parents of a single adult any more than they understand my own attitudes about being a single adult. To help those people out, I’ve compiled a list of things not to say to parents of a single adult.

  1. Why don’t you just tell them to grow up and settle down?  Excuse me? “Grow up and settle down?” As if we aren’t grown up if we haven’t decided to get married? Do you realize how patronizing that sounds? Single adults pay their own bills, have their own relationships, and make huge contributions to society, church, charitable organizations, and businesses. Sure, some of them are also perpetual kids, but I know plenty of married people who act much less grown up than me and my single friends.
  2. You haven’t really lived until you’ve held your first grandchild.  Yes, people have actually said that to the parents of a friend of mine. My friend is in her 30s and is content as a single woman serving the Lord. She doesn’t have children, and doesn’t currently anticipate having children. And somehow that invalidates all the experiences her parents have been through? They have grown up, married, raised two wonderful, godly daughters, served God for decades, but they haven’t really lived? Please.
  3. You should introduce your daughter/son to a nice single person.  Okay, I’ve always wanted my parents to like the guys I have dated. I even dated a guy my mom introduced me to once, though Mom honestly didn’t have any ulterior motives, since he wasn’t available at the time anyway. But this statement doesn’t take into account the fact that the single adult may not wish to meet someone. The single adult may have no desire to be married. And if the single adult does wish to be married, is it really going to make them feel better to get pressure from their parents along with everyone else in society?
  4. You should kick her out of the house.  Yep, this one was aimed at my mom. I moved back in with my folks after a catastrophic job loss many years ago. When Mom asked her friends to pray about the situation–meaning me having no money and no job and being depressed about it–her friend said they shouldn’t be supporting me. This infuriated me, because I was doing my part around the house–housework, lawncare, running errands for my folks in my free time, etc. It also infuriated my mom, because my parents actually liked having me back home with them, and they were concerned for me, not about me.
  5. Why don’t you tell him to get a place of his own?  This one goes hand-in-hand with #4. An increasingly large number of my fellow Gen-Xers, as well as Gen-Y, have graduated from college into a crappy economy, or have experienced job loss because of said crappy economy. Maybe the situation isn’t ideal for anyone, but let’s look back a mere 150 years ago, and we’ll realize that for centuries upon centuries, the common practice in family life was to have several generations living together. Many single adults lived with their parents all their lives, and the only stigma they faced was that of “spinster.” There’s nothing wrong with single adults living with their parents.
  6. Maybe she’s gay.  When I asked my mom for input on this blog post, this was one of her suggestions. Which tells me that at least one of my mom’s friends thinks I’m a lesbian (possibly the one who says only lesbians get tattoos, or maybe that one who says women who wear flannel shirts are all gay). I told her next time, she has my permission to say, “I don’t care if she’s gay or straight, and what business is it of yours, anyway?” Because…seriously, what business is it of yours, anyway?
  7. Oh, she’ll change her mind and have kids someday. First of all, you don’t know my mind. My mind has been firmly anti-having-children since I was a very young kid and refused to be the mom ever while playing house. Secondly, you don’t know just how grossed out I get by the idea of growing an alien life form inside my body for ten months. Thirdly, my mom knows me better than you do, and if she is certain I won’t change my mind, who are you to question her? Or me, for that matter?

Here’s the thing–you can’t automatically assume that a single adult is defective somehow. And you can’t automatically assume that the parents of a single adult believe their child is defective somehow.

Next time, I’ll talk about some things you can and should say to parents of a single adult. But for now, are there any real doozies I missed in this post? Weigh in with a comment!

6 Things to Say to Your Single Friends

15 Apr

Following up on the last post, 12 Things NOT to Say to Your Single Friends, I want to offer some constructive things you can say to your single friends. After all, what good is criticism if it isn’t constructive?

It’s honestly difficult coming up with some positive things to say to single people. I’m not sure there are many good reasons for a married friend to point out my singleness, so I’m drawing on help from a couple of single friends who contributed to this post.

Things to Say:

  1. “What are your dreams and hopes?” – More specifically, don’t assume that the single person dreams of getting married. Don’t assume that they don’t. ASK. You might be surprised by the answer you get.
  2. “What would you like to do with your life?” – This is similar to the first suggestion, but this opens the conversation to career, travel, ministry, and other topics. I’d like to share a quote from one of my single friends to expand on this.

    People also don’t seem to understand the whole “wanting to have time to work creatively”… Marrieds seem to think my work is a HOBBY I should pursue after I invest time in finding a husband, because having a family should be my priority. But, if I don’t get my art out there now and make a name for myself now, then (a) I won’t be supporting myself through work I really love, and if I’m not doing that, I won’t be satisfied or happy [with] myself and how can I expect anyone else to be, and (b) I know it would be nearly impossible to put myself out there if I’m similtaneously [sic] working at a relationship.

  3. “What gifts would you like to use?” – This is most applicable in a conversation about church and ministry, but maybe your friend has talents you’re not aware of. If you focus on the person instead of their marital status, you can learn a lot.
  4. “Would your schedule allow you to [volunteer/chair this committee/go to dinner/insert activity here]?” – In other words, don’t just assume that the single person doesn’t have a full social calendar. Don’t act like the single person is just dying to babysit for you because she doesn’t have kids of her own and doesn’t have anyone to spend time with on a Friday night. Don’t act like the only reason a single person is a good volunteer is because of his marital status.
  5. “Sometimes I get lonely.” – Loneliness happens to married people too, but it’s easy for a lonely single person to forget that. If your single friend confesses to loneliness, it’s okay to point out (gently) that marriage isn’t a 100% cure-all for loneliness.
  6. “Paul’s command to be content in whatever circumstances means: be content.” – In other words, don’t trot out Philippians 4:11 just to address singleness. In fact, he was talking about financial situations and having enough. But it’s good advice, whatever the situation. As a friend of mine commented, it’s about “making that an actual state of mind. In whatever circumstances, yes, up to and including singleness.”
I’m going to stop this list here, even though it’s half the number of things I pointed out last time. Like I said, it’s hard coming up with positive things for married people to say to their single friends. Partly, because your friend’s marital status shouldn’t really be a topic of conversation, unless he or she brings it up first. After all, I don’t spend a lot of time dissecting my best friend’s marriage or imposing my opinion of her marriage on her. So why shouldn’t I expect the same courtesy in return?
What do you think? Singles, are there other things you wish your married friends would say to you or ask you? Marrieds, are there things you want to say, but you’re not sure if it’s okay? Comment and let me know!

12 Things NOT to Say to Your Single Friends

13 Apr

Dear Married People,

Single Christians don’t hate you. We don’t hate your children. We don’t hate your in-laws (in fact, we probably like them more than you do!).

We’re just tired of you thinking we ought to want to be just like you.

Okay, some single people want desperately to get married. But some of us are pretty happy flying solo. Please stop assuming that marriage is the perfect happy ending for everyone in the world.

If I had a dollar for every time my married best friend told me I needed to “get out there and date more”, I couldn’t quit my day job, but I could sure take a nice weekend holiday somewhere. Of course, if I added in a dollar for every time a well-meaning relative or family friend or church friend asked, “Are you dating anyone yet?” I probably could quit my day job.

Several of the things on this list have been said to me. Some of them are responses I got when I solicited two of my favorite single ladies for contributions.

Things Not to Say:

  1. “You just need to get out there more” – If your single friend likes being single, she probably doesn’t really want to get out there. If your single friend doesn’t like being single, don’t you think he’s already trying to get out there more?
  2. “The right one will show up when you’re ready” – How do you know that? And why is it your responsibility to decide I’m not ready? Are you saying I’m too immature for a spouse? Because there are plenty of immature people out there getting married every day.
  3. “Take this time to focus on your ministry” – …Right, because once you get married, you don’t have to minister any more. Forget about Priscilla and Aquila, Peter (who had a mother-in-law, so must have had a wife), or Ananais and Saphira (okay, bad example…) But seriously, there are churches out there who discriminate against hiring single pastors, so don’t tell me it’s easier to minister to people without a spouse.
  4. “I’m so glad I’m not out there dating any more” – Exactly. Dating sucks. So why do you tell me to ‘get out there more’ all the time? (See first point above.)
  5. “I’m so jealous of your freedom” – Yeah, my freedom to pay all my bills on my one income, never know who my plus one will be for an event, and never have someone in the house to scratch a really persistent itch on my back.
  6. “You’re not a mother/wife/father/husband”, so you just wouldn’t understand.” – Um…maybe that’s true, but could you please sound a little more patronizing? I don’t quite feel like I’m twelve yet.
  7. “You’re too picky and you need to stop looking for someone who is perfect.” – So you’re saying that marriage, which is supposedly such a great institution, is just about settling for someone you can tolerate? It’s not picky to want to fall in love.
  8. “A person doesn’t really mature until they get married.” – Um…what? No, really, what? So I guess Paul, one of the greatest heroes of the faith, was immature? Good to know.
  9. “Life doesn’t really begin until you’ve had children.” (Or worse yet, telling the single person’s parents “life doesn’t really begin until you’ve had grandchildren.”) – There are lots of married people who choose not to have children. There are lots more who are not blessed with children despite wanting them. You’re saying those people can’t fully live because they are unable to reproduce? Really?
  10. “Do you not want to have children?” – See above. Some people actually don’t want children, and there is nothing wrong with that (I am one of those people, and have known this about myself since I was a child). But there are also plenty of single people out there who do want to have children, but don’t believe a shotgun wedding is the way to go.
  11. “You act like you don’t need anyone, so no one is going to ask you out.” – I’ve never had this one thrown at me, but I’m definitely guilty of acting like I don’t need a spouse. And I would argue that walking around acting needy & lonely all the time would be more of a turn-off.
  12. “I remember what it was like to be single.” (When you were single for all of three years, in your early twenties.) – Right, okay, you’re one of those people who went to college to get your MRS degree. That’s lovely for you, but don’t pretend you understand what it’s like to spend a decade or better of your life as a single person.

Join me next time, when I post six things you SHOULD say to your single friends.

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