This is my second post taken from communications I have received in the last couple weeks about what it means to be single and a follower of Christ. Here is another email from a young woman who was made to feel that marriage and motherhood were the highest (only valid) vocation for women. Listen to another journey of a young women learning how to hear the call and Jesus and follow with total abandon. Read the first post here. I will post some thoughts in coming days from people for whom singleness means divorce, being widowed, being a single parent, etc.
- - - -
This topic has been one that I have questioned for several years now because when I got to college, I began to question all that I had been taught throughout high school about marriage and singleness. A couple friends and I have been discussing it the past couple days so that we could thoughtfully respond to you.
I have wonderful parents who chose to take some paths that not many parents wanted to take in raising their kids. Some of these things, I think are very wonderful ways they shaped me, but other things I had to take a step back from when I got to college and question. They home schooled me and my siblings and were very strict about a lot of things. One of these things was the topic of dating. They taught us that dating was not the "Christian" way to go. That, instead, a sort of "courtship" was the "right" thing. I hesitate in the way I am speaking about these things because I really don't want to dishonor my parents in any way, but I suppose everyone has to go through a questioning phase of how they will make their way in the world different or similar from their family. Anyway, throughout high school, I was taught by my parents and people at church that I was supposed to be praying for my "future mate" and preparing myself to be a godly wife and mother. I had no idea at that point that there were any other options in life, nor did I desire any other option. I had known single adults, but when I heard people talking about them, they always said things like, "I feel sorry for him/her. He/She must be so lonely." This may or may not have been true for those particular people, but no one ever talked about singleness as something that could be a positive way of life.
When I got to college, I was very frustrated because I felt like there was suddenly all this pressure I had not felt in high school to find someone to marry. I was frustrated by how this put pressure on friendships with guys and how it made me feel like less of a person because I wasn't finding anyone that I would ever consider marrying. I was also frustrated because I couldn't figure out what a relationship was even supposed to look like in regards to romance because of the confusion of what "courtship" was even supposed to look like. I finally got to a point where I realized that I was in a season of life that was meant for singleness and that I needed to learn to be faithful to that. This brought a lot of relief and peace and rather than getting frustrated anymore at questions people asked about me being in relationships, I was able to laugh it off and just say it wasn't time for me to be in any relationships. This year or so that I was feeling this way, I even considered never marrying anyone because I had just gotten so fed up with all the pressures and seeing people choosing relationships for many selfish reasons (this was partially why I was so confused about the romantic issues I mentioned earlier).
I feel like I am finally coming to a point in life where I feel a balance of being content where I am and even enjoying the freedom and purpose I can find in singleness. I think that our group of friends doing the things we are doing in our community is a perfect example of this. But, on the other side of that balance, I am knowing a peace about the fact that I might be called to choose marriage and motherhood one day as well.
I guess what I would like to encourage the church most in is to find ways to support and be family to people who find themselves in every season of life: children and teens who don't have much support at home, single adults, married couples, families, single parents, parents who can't have children, and homosexuals needing support in being faithful to the struggles they are facing. I reread two articles this week from one of my bible classes in college when you told us about your sermon coming up. I'll try to get them to you so you can read them. One is about myths about romance and marriage and the other is about church being people's first family. They both reminded me of the importance of these topics and the emphasis they should hold in the church.
I think the idea of having a conversation on stage with some different people is a great idea and I don't think it necessarily has to be only single people or people who have never been married. I think it would be helpful to hear from married people as well on how to be faithful in singleness. I know if I had heard a sermon on this when I was in high school and even in college, it would have helped me so much!