Tag Archives: singles

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!

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!

Happy Birthday, You’re Single!

12 Oct

Today is my thirty-sixth birthday, and I have something I need to get off my chest.

I hate what people in the church call “the gift of singleness.” They talk about it like it’s a white elephant gift or one step below a lump of coal in your stocking. They call it a gift the same way my seventh grade health teacher tried to convince me my period was a gift. And we all know better than that!

The gift of singleness isn’t a present you open on your twenty-fifth birthday, when you realize all your college friends are married but you aren’t. It isn’t something that arrives in your Easter Basket, when you realize you don’t have anyone to share a huge, clove-studded ham and chocolate bunnies with. It isn’t something you get for Christmas, along with your annual AAA membership and airline tickets to Disney World.

The gift of singleness is sort of like the gift of patience. It’s something you know better than to ask God for. It’s a gift you want someone else to have. It’s a consolation prize.

Or at least, that’s always how it comes across when it’s discussed at church. It’s not something that’s really treated with the Paul-esque glory it truly deserves.

The gift of singleness is described in 1 Corinthians 7. Paul says, “I wish that all men were [single] as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” (v. 7-8, emphasis mine)

Did you get that? It is good to stay unmarried. Paul considers the state of singleness as a state to be preferred. It’s better than being married. In fact, in verse 28, he even has to reassure people, “If you do marry, you have not sinned.” And then there’s the part of that verse that makes me laugh: “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”

So Paul is pretty clear in stating that singleness is better than marriage. He spends an entire chapter talking about this. And yet you know how my Bible describes this chapter? “Marriage.” Excuse me while I take a minute to LOL at this piece of editorializing.

So how does one get the gift of singleness?

I’ll tell you up front that it’s not available at your local department store. You can’t order it from Amazon.com. And to be honest, I didn’t really spend years of my life praying that God would grant me this gift.

It’s something that comes on slowly, at least in my experience. You move forward in your life, worshiping God, watching friends get married and have kids, trying to find your place in the world, making friends, losing friends. Sometimes you spend a lot of time wishing to be married. Sometimes you don’t think about it unless you don’t have a plus one to attend a wedding or other formal event. You pay the bills by yourself and learn to enjoy going to the movies alone (hey, no one talks during the show that way) and probably end up buying a pet.

And somewhere along the way, you realize that you are content with your life. You are happy living with only God as your life partner. You enjoy the fact that you don’t have to share the bed with anyone. You don’t open it like a present. It opens inside you like a blossom.

You’re single. And it’s a gift.

Single-and-Not-Dating…With Caveats (Part 3)

27 Sep

Last Monday I started answering a question Edarnut asked me: There seem to be 3 kinds of Christian singles: Single and looking for a spouse, single and dating but not really spouse hunting, and single and not dating. Which are you? And how is the “singles ministry” dynamic between the 3 types?

Then on Thursday I continued my response and talked about how I came to realize I was content with singledom.

Today I want to explain the caveat I added to her category–that is, that I’m not opposed to marriage.

First I need to clarify that I’m not talking about marriage across the board. I’m not opposed to that, either, but I mean specifically that I’m not opposed to my own marriage. I don’t dislike men. I believe in the institution of marriage. (I also believe the government shouldn’t be defining it, but let’s not get into politics today, huh?)

I’m just not actively seeking marriage. I’m not actively seeking a spouse.

Christian readers of my blog are probably familiar with the story of Isaac and Rebekah, how the servant set out to find a wife for Isaac, prayed to God for a sign, and was granted that sign. The servant asked Rebekah for water at the well, and she offered to draw water for his camels too, whereupon he decked her out in jewelry and proclaimed her the bride God had chosen for his master.

Well, I like to joke that if God sends a dude with camels and bracelets to ask me for water, that’s about the only way I’ll end up married. That might sound flippant, but what it boils down to is that if God wants me to get married, He’ll place the right man in my path at the right time and cause me to know His will.

At which point I hope to heaven I’m wise enough to recognize it!

But I’m not anticipating that day. I’m not holding my breath waiting for a Prince Charming. I’m not praying every day for my future husband. Frankly, I don’t know if he even exists, and I’m not fussed either way. Why should I pray for some dude who may not even be real, especially if I’m not even staying awake nights hoping he is?

What I want to focus on is the here and now. The missions God has placed in my life. The passions God has given me regarding how to serve Him. The conditions in which I currently serve God.

So I’m not opposed to marriage. I’m just not out there looking for it.

Single and Not Dating. That’s me. With caveats. 🙂

Single-and-Not-Dating…With Caveats (Part 2)

20 Sep

On Monday I started answering a question Edarnut asked me: There seem to be 3 kinds of Christian singles: Single and looking for a spouse, single and dating but not really spouse hunting, and single and not dating. Which are you? And how is the “singles ministry” dynamic between the 3 types?

As I said Monday, I’m Single-and-Not-Dating-or-Actively-Seeking-a-Spouse-(Though-Not-Opposed-to-Marriage). I paused in my Singledom Narrative at the ripe old age of a broken-hearted twenty-five. My first serious, long-term relationship had just ended.

It took me about a year to really get over that. In the meantime, I was happy to flirt and go on occasional, casual dates, but there were no real connections. Then about nine years ago, through a coworker, I met a really nice guy who was, intellectually, academically, a Christian, but who had no true emotional or passionate faith in Christ. He professed Christianity, I liked him, he liked me, we started dating.

It didn’t work out. I’d gone back to grad school that summer, I was diagnosed with chronic depression that summer, and the relationship was just one thing too many for me to put energy into. The fact that I chose to let the relationship go probably speaks volumes about how well it wasn’t working.

I changed jobs a couple of times, including a career change. I left the church I’d grown up in for a more Biblical, dynamic, growing church. I hit thirty, still single. I began to think it was impossible to meet single, Christian guys.

Then…

…slowly…

…I started wondering if I still wanted to meet single, Christian guys. At least in a romantic capacity.

I’m an only child with a close relationship with my parents. I grew up able to entertain myself for hours by reading, thinking, or telling stories in my head. Eventually I started writing–a fairly solitary hobby. I come from a family where bachelor uncles and unmarried aunts are perfectly normal.

I experience loneliness, but I had learned by then that relationships are no guarantee against loneliness.

I had become accustomed to making decisions without having to consider other people. I had grown used to being able to take all the closet and dresser space for myself. I have never wanted children, so I felt no biological clock nagging at me to marry and reproduce.

In short, I was content in my singledom.

And in a couple of days, I’ll explain my caveat. Until then, anyone else want to weigh in on this?

Single-and-Not-Dating…With Caveats (Part 1)

17 Sep

A while back…uh, okay, a long time ago now…I invited questions from people here. Then I neglected to answer those questions, and it’s too bad, because there were some really great ones.

Today I want to try to answer one of Edarnut’s questions: There seem to be 3 kinds of Christian singles: Single and looking for a spouse, single and dating but not really spouse hunting, and single and not dating. Which are you? And how is the “singles ministry” dynamic between the 3 types?

First of all, as of right now, a few weeks from my thirty-sixth birthday, I’m definitely in the Single-and-Not-Dating category of Christian singles. And to sub-categorize myself a bit, I’m Single-and-Not-Dating-or-Actively-Seeking-a-Spouse-(Though-Not-Opposed-to-Marriage). But that hasn’t always been the case.

Just a few days ago I was going through some old papers and I found some of my abysmally depressing journal entries from college. When I was eighteen, I was certain I wanted to get married. When I was nineteen I even thought I was madly in love with someone who might make me agree to have children. When I was twenty and newly disillusioned with my corner of the Christian subculture of my big State U, I started looking at men I met outside of church. When I was twenty-one, I was desperately and secretly in love with a man who I imagined–no, not getting married to–but meeting again in ten years and having a passionate affair.

Please keep in mind, if you will, that I had all of these feelings and beliefs and odd ideas all before I received my first kiss.

Yep, you read that right. I’d never even had more than the most basic sort of Christian non-relationship*, but I had daydreamed about marrying at least a dozen different Christian guys, and having a torrid affair with a non-Christian guy.

Fast forward to the mid-twenties and I actually started dating, but I was a serial monogamist. I never really got the mindset behind playing the field. The summer I was twenty-four I met a younger guy and fell head over heels in love, and for once it seemed mutual. But he was still in college, and at the end of the summer, you can guess what happened. The relationship ended on my twenty-fifth birthday. It broke my heart, but I was in the middle of a quarter-life crisis anyway; I’d reached twenty-five without having a book or story published. The melodrama of having my romantic hopes dashed had to fight with the melodrama of career angst and self-doubt.

And that’s where I’m going to pause this story until the next blog post. (I promise, I’ll post the rest in a couple days, not a couple weeks!)

—–

*You know what I mean when I say “Christian non-relationship”, right? It’s that torturous state of hanging out with someone of the opposite sex in all kinds of group situations, where all the other members of the group know you like him, and a lot of the other members of the group think he likes you, and the people who know what’s really going on feel superior, and you end up with your heart broken.

What? Bitter? Me? Pssht.

Book Review: Five Love Languages for Singles by Gary Chapman

9 Jun

When I started this blog, I decided I need to read as many books written for or about singles as I could. Years ago I read a few books that I probably will refrain from commenting on, because my memory is short, and all I remember is that I hated them. (When God Writes Your Love Story, I am looking at you.)

Side note: I’ve been hampered in this effort by the local library’s poorly developed collection of books on single life; there are six books on singleness in the online catalog, and one of them is Jennifer Love Hewitt’s book about needing to be in love. Yeah, seriously.

Anyway, the first book I read on this topic was Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages for Singles. It was probably a good book to start with, because Dr. Chapman gets a lot of things right.

For one thing, he didn’t write a book that ought to be subtitled: Why You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You or How to Get a Spouse. In the introduction, Chapman writes,

Married or single, young or old, every human has the emotional need to feel loved. When this need is met, we move out to reach our potential for God and good in the world. However, when we feel unloved, we struggle simply to survive. I am deeply convinced that the truths in this book will enable single adults to learn the skills that lead to loving and being loved.

But he’s not talking just about finding a spouse. His book acknowledges all the relationships in a single person’s life, from family to friends to roommates to coworkers, and, yes, to romantic relationships. Though there is a slight emphasis on dating and marriage, he doesn’t sideline all the other important relationships in a single person’s life.

In fact, in the situations he writes about where a single person wants to find a mate, he actually teaches them about the five love languages, then instructs them to try learning the love languages of their parents. This would seem to imply that Dr. Chapman knows singles are whole people regardless of our marital status, and that a romantic relationship might not be the most important one in our lives.

If you’re not aware of the five love languages, Chapman defines them as Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. I believe I’m a Quality Time person myself, but my mom is an Acts of Service person, and my dad, I think, is Words of Affirmation. Mom and I have discussed this, though, and neither of us is sure about his language.

Something I really liked about this book was that I could immediately apply what I took away from it. I didn’t have to wait until I was dating someone. Learning to speak someone else’s love language is useful whether you’re trying to win over a stubborn coworker, get a messy roommate to be more considerate of your neat-freak habits, or just show your parents or friends how much you appreciate them. Since reading the book, I’ve tried to focus more on performing acts of service for my mom, whether it’s helping her with her yard work or designing a logo for her new market garden business. We’ve always had a great relationship (my mom is my best friend), but I can honestly say I think it’s better now that I’m speaking her language.

Something else I like about the book is the chapter for single parents. I’m not a single parent, and I hope never to be, but I’m glad Chapman doesn’t overlook the fact that a huge number of people are either having children without ever marrying, or becoming the sole provider and caregiver for their children after a divorce. I had a friend and coworker my age who had three children, none of whom shared a father. It gave her some unique challenges to face. Love languages can be applied to kids and teenagers as well as adults, and Chapman gives clear ideas on how to do this.

Chapman categorizes single adults in five ways, and admits there may be other categories they fit. He writes about singles who have never been married, who are divorced, who are separated but not divorced, who are widowed, and single parents. He acknowledges just how many single people there are in the world today, especially in the United States (as of the book’s publication in 2004 he cited 4 out of 10 adults as single. I think we’re closer to 49% of the U.S. population now). And he makes it clear that we single adults matter to him.

I confess, Chapman also got points for quoting my favorite Christian scholar and writer, C.S. Lewis:

Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you love someone, you will presently come to love him. (Mere Christianity)

This has got me thinking, even more, about how I deal with some of those Christians I was talking about earlier this week. I need to remember, as Bird pointed out, that a gentle answer turns away wrath. And I need to act as if I love them, whether I’m angry at them or annoyed with them or not. And that will lead to me being a more loving person.

That can only be a good thing, right?

Going For Broke, or Just Going Broke?

22 May

Today I had to do the thing that humiliates me the most. And unfortunately, it’s not the first time I’ve had to do it. I would even venture to say it’s something I’ve had to do more often simply because I’m single.

I had to ask my folks for money.

The cell phone bill is due in a couple of days, and I took a long, hard look at my checking account balance. Then I took a long, hard look around to see if there was anything I could pawn.

I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been unemployed and job-hunting since autumn of 2011, and I’ve exhausted my savings and state unemployment money. I’ve thought about going the plasma donation route, but since I’m not qualified to be a blood donor for health reasons, they probably wouldn’t want my plasma either.

This is one of the major difficulties with being single. There’s only one person to pay all the bills.

I know, you might suggest that I cancel the cell phone plan. But that’s not really an option, since I carry four family members on the plan. Two of them have already reimbursed me for the year, and the other two are my folks, so I don’t usually ask them to.

But this month I had no choice. I’ve got nothing left. So I asked my dad for the money. And my parents have had a bad year financially, with furnace problems and lawnmower problems to pay for, so it’s not like they have a lot to go around.

I know there are probably a lot of married people who have chosen to stay at home with the kids and are making it on one person’s income. But when it comes down to it, paying the bills is one of the downsides of being single. Sure, there’s only one car to maintain, but housing costs are the same whether you have one person in the house or six. Grocery bills are smaller for a single person, but utilities probably aren’t any cheaper.

This is one of the reasons I cringe when I hear politicians in places like Wisconsin saying that women don’t care about equal pay.

Actually, there are probably a lot of single women, especially single mothers, who care a lot about equal pay. Those single moms really need to be making more than a single man with no kids…and yet they’re probably making less.

I’ve been fortunate in my almost twenty years of employment history. I’ve never seen a pay difference between me and a guy doing the same job. But I believe it happens. It’s definitely a concern I have. And this concern is something that influences my politics. Thankfully, in my state, the issue hasn’t come up. (Yet?)

But for now, I’m less concerned about how I’m going to vote in November, and more concerned about how I’m going to pay my Discover bill in June.

Midnight Confessions

17 May

Actually I’m writing this at 1:40 am. But it’s still the middle of the night, so the title counts.

Tonight I’m lonely.

It’s not that I’m sitting here longing for a husband, so much as sitting here longing for someone to validate me. Someone to tell me I’m not a failure, even though I can’t find a job. Someone to tell me I am smart. Someone to tell me I’m fun to be around. Someone to just remind me Jesus loves me.

That’s definitely one of the downsides to being single. Add to that being a night-owl who’s currently unemployed, and since I don’t have a spouse whom I could, selfishly, wake up and demand comfort from…

Yeah. Tonight I’m lonely.

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