Today is my last day in London and I’m looking forward to being back home with kids and Aaron tomorrow! Today’s guest post is from a friend of mine, Jessica Souza. Jessica is one of our favorite babysitters and my kids love her. I sometimes wish we traveled in the same circles because I know we would be better friends for sure! She’s just that kinda girl that you want to sit down with and hear all about their life over coffee. Enjoy her words today!
When people get married, I think there’s an amnesia they develop. They forget what it’s like being single, so I thought I’d refresh some memories and shine a light on those things. Before you think things like, “she’s bitter,” please read with an open mind. This is coming from a girl who God has rescued from the culture that she was drowning in, where she was molded (indirectly by our culture) to believe that being single is unacceptable and a problem that needed to be fixed by all her married friends. This isn’t coming from a girl who is angry at married people. Married people have been an insane blessing to me, because together we have filled the trench the divides married and single people. It’s not coming from a girl who thinks she’s better than married people. God has revealed what was crushing me, though, and I feel called to let other people know what those crushing things are – because a lot of people have no idea (by no fault of their own). So here goes!
Dear Married People,
If you have single friends, try your best to not see them as a single person. What do I mean by this? I don’t mean “disregard it.” I simply mean, pay attention to their traits. Their lives. And get involved. They are a whole person. It’s like whenever people get married, single people are sort of left out. Don’t let marriage become this social status, where you have “graduated” to a new tier. We aren’t just babysitters, either. While I do passionately believe single people shouldn’t waste their lives by not serving, it’s still nice to be acknowledged as a woman (or man), as a friend, as a confidant, and as a sister in Christ. Don’t assume all single people wouldn’t hang out with you because you’re married. Yes, you go to bed way earlier than us probably, but we love spending life with you.
You also shouldn’t make it your project to find single people a spouse. We’re not suffering from a disease you feel you have the cure for. It saddens me each time I hear a friend of mine tell me, “I just want you to be happy” or “We should find you a husband!” If my personality is that repelling as a single person, a husband isn’t going to fix that. In fact, if I’m that miserable as a single person, why would you want me to find a husband in that condition? It’s great your marriage was such an incredible blessing, but you should make it clear in your actions that your spouse is not your Savior. If you can’t, then this could be something you too, are battling. I think of this like “projected idolatry.” It’s the same situation as a parent who never made it to be the great athlete, so they take their own idols and project it onto their child, forcing the child to always feel inadequate (which is the opposite of how God treats us). God said, “it’s not good for man to be alone,” not, “It’s not good for man’s relationship status to be ‘single.’” God created community because He knew it wasn’t good for us to be alone. He also created marriage, but He did not create marriage to be more glorifying than singleness. It is simply a different expression of His glory.
Setups & Blind Dates. This a big one. It’s the one where I always have to wonder if people really do go blank when they try to remember what it was like being single. Hopefully what I’m about to say absorbs into the minds of those who read it.
How To Set Someone Up:
- Ask yourself if you’re only setting them up “because they’re both single and they’re both Christian.” I’m sorry, but Kirk Cameron is Christian and I would never date the dude if he was also single. Avoid setting people up based only on shallow traits, too, like “well they both like basketball.” Also, it’s annoying when people hear “well, opposites attract!” When did I become a magnet? I’m a human being, with a personality. I once had a girl friend tell me she wanted me to meet her friend. She literally said, “I think you two would hit it off…but he makes out with everyone, that’s the only problem.” Or, when I’m asked if I’d like to meet their friend and I decline, they then proceed to complain about that person’s traits later. Why would you consider having this person date me when they aren’t emotionally equipped to be dating anyone?! Think about whether or not the two would pair well – and if they wouldn’t, quickly move on. Avoid getting full of pride thinking about how you could be responsible for a marriage. The results could be a huge mess, or just a totally avoidable awkward situation.
- Don’t…I repeat…don’t tell either of them you want them to meet as romantic interests – unless they both have expressed they like being setup. I know, it will be impossible to hold in (again…it’s pride). But seriously, it is always awkward when both parties know they are being setup. Invite both of them in a group, comfortable setting. Feel free to fuel conversation if needed, and see what happens. If you get a vibe from them, that it could work (since hopefully youknow both of them), and they haven’t brought it up to you already – ask them separately what they thought of the other person (only after you all have hung out).
- If you have a friend who is constantly nagging for you to set them up, you should get a little deeper into that. It’s totally ok for people to want to be setup by friends, especially since people are so busy and feel like they don’t have time to always be at social events. However, if someone is seeming desperate, you should pursue that subject and try to dig at why they are feeling that way. It could easily be nothing, but it could also just as easily be a lot of pain that they feel can only be healed by a significant other.
- Oh, and blind dates are ridiculous.
What you say to a single person matters. Things you say that enables a culture of singles being outcasts:
You’re so pretty, how are you still single? This one is mostly asked by very close friends and family. How are people supposed to respond to that? “I’m not sure, I put on as much makeup as possible, and still no luck.” Or, “I know, that’s what I’m wondering!” It’s not encouraging to hear, and being “pretty” doesn’t qualify someone as a person who should definitely not be single.
Have you tried online dating? Before you get the urge to ask this question, please ask yourself why it’s so important that your friend dates someone, that they should subject themselves to strangers on the Internet who are incredibly desperate to find a mate. Does this person seem that lonely? If they do, then a boyfriend/girlfriend isn’t going to make them less lonely.
What about you and _________? You guys hang out a lot. Unless you have blatantly seen your friend and ___________ openly and obviously flirt with each other, avoid that question. While guys and girls can’t always be best friends (been there, done that), they can just hang out. It tells your friend, “I’m watching you. And I’m noticing you’re single. Why aren’t you seeing this?” We know we are single, we know our friends who are single. If I want to date my guy friend, it will be obvious. Hanging out doesn’t mean we are going to date, and it gets weird when you pressure the two.
You’ll totally find someone, whatever! If this statement gets brought up because your single friend is upset they are stil single, telling someone information that you don’t know is truth, is damaging. Neither of you know if someone will actually get married. There is no guarantee of that. Instead of encouraging someone to think this way, you should encourage them that whether they are married or not – this life belongs to the Lord, and it’s only fulfilling when we share the Gospel as worship to Him and love people in Christ. Single people need truth, not another person telling them lies that do not help.
That’s pretty much it. I love being friends with married people. Married friends have shown me a whole world I never would have thought I could see, if I was blindly searching for love from a man. God has crushed false truths and replaced them with His truth. I pray that you would bless your single friends with your life and you would encourage them to accept that while marriage and kids are blessings, they are not better than a gift of singleness. Encourage them to use this time to do things you didn’t get to do or won’t get to do. We have so much to learn from each other, it’s crazy for there to be a divide. Next time you see a single person come into your church or small group – invite them into your life, as opposed to redirecting them to a singles group or young adult group. We were meant to spend community together. Lift them up and sharpen them.
Jess is a single hispanic girl doing life in Austin, TX. She loves laughing, film-making, makeup, and local/global mission. Jess is currently working on a documentary about singleness in the church, set to release by January 2014. You can read her blog or follow her on Twitter.