After reading yesterday’s post I received an email from a woman with some suggestions on what not to say to single women in your church. I thought her comments rang true and were well written. She gave me permission to post them here.
“I keep praying for someone to come along for you.” Thanks for your prayers. I hope someone comes along too. Instead of praying for that, why don’t you pray that I would be growing in Christlikeness so that if Mr. Wonderful walks into my life, I would be better suited to be a helpmate for him.
“I don’t know why no young man hasn’t scooped you up and carried you off yet.” I know this is supposed to be a compliment and that the intention of the kind woman is to tell me that she thinks I’m worth marrying. I appreciate that you think so highly of me. Unfortunately when you say this I immediately try to answer the question of why no one has carried me off. Am I too much of one thing and not enough of another? Do I not look right? Am I too soft spoken or too loud? What do I need to change about myself since obviously something is wrong with me if I haven’t been taken off the market? Maybe I should go read Proverbs 31 again to figure it out.
“You should move somewhere where there are more young men, or maybe go to a church with more single people.” There is some merit to having a community that you can feel comfortable with, but comments like this aren’t helpful for several reasons. First, it makes it seem like the goal of going to church or moving somewhere is to find a spouse. That’s not why you go to church. Second, it feeds the controlling nature of most women to want to put their matrimonial future into their own hands instead of trusting God. It’s a slippery slope that is all too easy to find yourself on. What woman wouldn’t want to go to a church filled with thousands of single men just waiting to find a wife? You could just ask them all to fill out applications and have a screening process. It could be the church version of The Dating Game. Third, some women don’t have the option of moving, so pointing out to them that there might be “greener pastures” on the other side of the fence doesn’t help them be content in their current situation. It can be a daily struggle for some women to be ok with where they are at in life, and indirectly telling them that their life would be better somewhere else doesn’t help.
“Have you ever thought about online dating?” Many, many wonderful Christian people have met and married through online dating. It’s the wave of the future without a doubt. But it is still something that brings embarrassment to the person. It can sometimes feel like the question is really saying “I see that you’ve completely failed at attracting anyone in your physical world so have you tried to do it in an online world?” It reminds me of being kicked off the varsity team and ending up on the bench for the JV.
“Don’t you want to get married and have children?” This is usually in response to a statement about being content in my current state. Being content is not the same as having no desire for something. Yes, I do want to get married and have children, but there’s not a whole lot that I can do about it. I don’t have a lot of control over who I come across and whether they would like to ask me out. And although I would like these things, my life is not somehow a failure if I do not achieve them. I would love to be able to have the blessings that come with marriage and children, but it should not be more than my desire to have the blessings of a relationship with Christ.
Single people have a responsibility as well to not be overly sensitive. Singleness can be a deep trial, but making little things into big deals because someone unintentional prodded that hurt isn’t the way to go. Single people need to extend grace, knowing that the intentions of people are good and out of their love for them.
These are wise words. I especially appreciate this woman’s attitude: understanding that these things are said by people who mean well and acknowledging that over-sensitivity can be a problem too. But it’s certainly worthwhile to think about how you and your church could be welcoming and supportive in the best way possible. The letter above will help.