Put Your Hands Up!

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As a single Christian woman, I remember a few times I’ve been asked to stand up in front of the church, and admit that I want a relationship.

And yes, this has been accompanied by Beyoncé’s “All the Single Ladies” – once in full surround-sound glory; and last night, A Capella, sung by a visiting minister.

I trust that minister, so last night I stood up, owned my single status and desire for marriage, and laughed along with the rest of the women standing. No regrets.

Today, I’m reflecting on this experience.

Each time this happened, it’s been at the behest of a male minister.

Interesting, right?

Female ministers probably have a better understanding of the complex power+emotional+social dynamic of what can potentially be public humiliation.

I’ve never seen the single men of the church encouraged to stand up in front of the congregation to admit their singleness and desire for marriage.

Imagine if a female minister asked the single men all to stand, so she could pray for them to find wives.

Would there be swift resistance? You betcha.

I wonder what this says about power and gender roles in church culture… what this says about the value the church places on women.

Standing up in church and admitting I’m a single lady, in the peculiarly Christian tradition of public confession, has not resulted in romance for me of any sort.

The times I stood in response to instruction from the pulpit, to publicly own my singleness and desire for a relationship, occurred in church contexts where I knew all the available men, anyway! (generally much younger, much older, or the kind that Love to Give Lingering Hugs… sound familiar?)

As I’m writing, I wonder if this reinforces the position of single women at the bottom of the relational hierarchy within a church.

Stand up! Show yourselves! Let us see you! (so We can pray for you, of course… so you can be like Us).

I wonder if my standing in church for the purpose of being seen as single, rekindled the gratitude married women may feel at being ‘safe’ from this experience. Their gratitude for being chosen. I wonder if they pity me.

Anyway. So, I stood last night and I own that decision, but I won’t do it again.

Last night, the minister said “…a definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again, and expecting different results…”

I agree. It’s time to do things differently.

Hi There!-1

©2018 UneditedSingleChristianWomanBlog & Totalcomplete

 

Being single doesn’t mean I’m lacking

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I remember the moment I decided church wasn’t the right place for a single person… well, for single me.

I was at home group.

I’d bought flowers for the wife of the couple who were hosting home group. We were chatting over coffe. The husband looked at me and said “…you know who you should date? I know someone you should date!..” and proceeded to tell me about this great guy he had in mind for me.

This wasn’t the first time. More like the hundredth.

Honestly, usually it was no big deal. Usually I’d say something light and laugh it off, unless the ‘great guy’ they told me about really sounded like a potential.

(Spoiler Alert: I’m still single, so none of them were!)

But this time, something changed in me.

In that moment I realized when these people saw me – not only my friend’s husband, but the many people in church over the last 8 years who’ve asked about my relationship status or suggested some man or another as a potential – they saw me as incomplete. 

I can confirm that none of these people, beyond Sunday niceties (we all know about those!), home group & the odd pot luck, had a relationship with me where I knew they genuinely cared about me, and their advice was coming from a place of love. Not nosiness.

They saw me as missing something. Without a partner, they saw me as incomplete.

Half of a whole.

And because they saw me as missing something, they wanted to help change that.

Let’s take it further, they saw me as lacking, because I am single.

Let’s see what the Bible says about difficulty and lack.

Notice it doesn’t mention finding a spouse (although I still want to be married… I’ll write about that next post).

 

James 1:2-4 The Passion Translation (TPT)

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can!

For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.

And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

 

Nothing lacking? I’ll take that!

Hi There!-1

 

 

 

©2018 UneditedSingleChristianWomanBlog & Totalcomplete

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I’m a single Christian & I stopped going to church

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I don’t go to church right now. 

For a long time, I was as fervent as anyone.

The church I attended at the time was large, and busy, and because of that there were plenty of opportunities to serve. I was there four or five nights a week, motivated by an earnest desire to serve God and be a Good Christian.

I ushered, made coffee, handed out offering baskets, swept and mopped, washed dishes, cleaned toilets.

I dressed stylishly, presenting with a big smile & joyful demeanor, ready to meet my God-fearing husband (that’s what we single Christian women do, right?).

One memory stands out from that time. The church was huge, with satellite campuses mostly staffed by volunteers. I visited another campus, and while there, I met myself.

Sweet, single, and plain as a Round Wine biscuit, Abbey* was about to celebrate her fortieth birthday. This woman was godly and humble. She served in the church café, and nobody really noticed her.

Of course, I know God noticed her, he notices everyone, he’s good like that.

Abbey had a quiet life. As Christians often do, the other women described her as ‘beautiful’ and ‘gorgeous’ – double-edged cultural vernacular directed toward older, single women by younger, blithe, sisters in the Lord – but in Abbey’s eyes, I saw my own despair & disappointment.

When I met her, I saw my future.

What I saw was not what I wanted: a permanent state of waiting with gracious patience, in a place that held nothing for me in the way of promise. Just another place to pass the time.

Where was God in this?

I was unsure of myself, and I didn’t act. Five years passed before I gained the courage to leave. It’s useful to believe that waiting was the right thing to do.

Hi There!-1

 

*Not her real name

©2018 UneditedSingleChristianWomanBlog & Totalcomplete

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When being honest feels like betrayal

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Maybe it’s because I was raised religious.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve struggled with low self-worth, which led to giving away my power to people & institutions who didn’t deserve it…

…but being honest about my life, feels like I’m betraying my faith.

I’m a single, Christian woman in my forties. And I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

A bit about me: I’m smart, resilient, resourceful blah blah blah. Attractive, fun to be around, likeable. I know a lot of people. A chat with me will probably brighten your day.

And yet, I’m still here. Alone. Un-chosen. The life I have now is not what I expected or wanted.

When I entered Christianity again as an adult, I believed what was taught from the pulpit.

That if I prayed enough, tithed enough, served enough in church, remained hopeful and was faithful to God… that He would answer my prayers, and bless me with my life partner (husband) and my family (children).

This hasn’t happened.

I work as a therapist, so I’m pretty self-aware. I go to professional counselling when I need it. I’m part of a community of people. I contribute.

But I can’t help but think that the church sold me a fantasy.

While I’ve been waiting patiently for my life partner, trying to live the good Christian life, the final years of my youth slipped away. They’re gone now, forever.

I understand the importance of hope & faith, that God does have a plan for my life, that I will be blessed.

I’ve also had enough of the loneliness, the humiliation. The wondering what’s wrong with me. The trying to ‘fix’ myself. The unwelcome advice from those who’ve never lived this way.

On dark days, I wonder if it’s worth it (what if I’ve been wrong all along?).

One thing I know (I think I know?) about God, is that He can handle questions.

He knows I’m barely holding on (does He know?) trying to hold on to hope.

On days like this I can’t help but think that the church sold me a fantasy. And I bought in.

Hi There!-1

 

©2018 UneditedSingleChristianWomanBlog & Totalcomplete

All rights reserved

Image via Pexels