Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Friday, February 19, 2016

The end of me being single

   We are barely out of diapers and started walking and talking when it begins. Teasing about a girl or boy. Almost the minute we pop out of the womb, we start being conditioned that we must grow up and marry. No parent encourages singleness and celibacy for their child, they want them to find that special someone and marry.... or at least shack up with someone.

   Any time I say anything like this, there are married people who get their feathers ruffled and they become defensive. If you are in that category being offended that I dare criticize marriage in any way, and infer singleness might be better....take that feeling and realize that is how single people feel having marriage pushed on them and getting vibes that they are not complete since they are single.

    Marriage has almost become a god to some.... I said almost. So many strive towards marriage as if that is where they will find complete happiness and fulfillment. As I have watched more and more marriages crumble and end in divorce, seen families break apart, and people hurt as the love of their life walks out for another; I have found myself being thankful I don't have to deal with that. Obviously, marriage does not guarantee happiness or fulfillment, and what seems to be the strongest marriages between a Christian couple can crumble like a sand castle as waves hit it.

   It can be tough being single in a couple's world. We just came through the major holiday for lovers, or "single awareness day" as some call it. I actually came through it unscathed; focusing more on God's love and love of my family more than I have in other years, but there are daily reminders that I am not the "norm". Commercials are geared for sex and couples, I go to a restaurant and am asked "just one?" as if I should have someone with me. (I know, I know..... I am too sensitive, but it gets old!!!) Church has even become a place where marriage is emphasized and if you are single, they have no idea what to do with you. Marriage and family are held up as the thing to strive for, and though no one says it; you are an oddity if you don't meet that criteria.

   Sadly, I feel this emphasis and push to marry has caused many people to marry too soon, and some to marry who should never have married. Many men - and possibly women - who are attracted to the same gender have married so no one suspects or thinks they are gay. Some manage to pull it off, while others struggle and either divorce and hurt someone,  or they never have a fulfilling marriage. Others marry so they can have an outlet for sexual release instead of waiting for the right person and God's timing. Some young people marry in Bible college and can't handle the financial burdens of marriage, and some walk away from the call of God in their life to focus on marriage and family instead. If these same young people waited until after college and they had their fianances and life in better order for marriage, how much better off they'd be. But even  in the church the emphasis is to marry as soon as you can. I think everyone would be better off to put marriage off for a later date instead of rushing from childhood into marriage.

  God created marriage, and created men and women to be together in a lifelong commitment.... I get that. Yet there are many people in the Bible God used who were single, or at least appear to be single. Jesus Himself was single, and yes there is that thing with Him being God; yet He was also man.... but it does seem God has a place and plan for single people; and to discount that and try to push marriage on everyone does a disservice to them and to God.

   The last wedding I was at was my little sister's 15 years ago. I can still remember the pressure and embarrassment of doing what I had other times: standing and waiting for the garter to be thrown to see who would marry next (what an idiotic tradition!)  I knew I wasn't marrying.... ever.... and I even resented a bit this weird tradition that inferred that I needed to marry and should want to be the next guy to marry.

  I was in a Christian bookstore a while back browsing the books, and overheard a conversation two young women were having as they looked at the books for singles. The one was evidently married, and the other was not. At one point, the unmarried said she had read almost all of the books for singles, and she said "And you know what all books for singles do that bugs me?" I spoke up "I know... they are all written with the assumption you are unhappy being single and want to be married." And I was right. Again, there is the push for marriage and the assumption that one cannot be complete unless they are married.

  I can still remember the day that I sat on the floor with tears falling down my face as I packed up the books I had bought on dating to mail to the person who had bought them on eBay. I had had hopes I could battle this thing I deal with enough to marry, but realized that it wasn't going to happen. That was then, this is now; and now I have peace about it. I have come to realize marriage is not the answer, and will not give me happiness and fulfillment. Only God can do that,

   Maybe instead of everyone rushing to marry, they should cultivate friendships and a relationship with God.The book I am reading made a great case for this. So many people marry, and are so involved with their spouse that they desert their friends....especially single friends. It is like they used them and don't need them anymore now that they found the love of their life. I can't speak from personal experience, but there have been many single people who have been discarded after they fulfilled their use and were no longer needed once marriage entered the picture.

  What if we all saw each other just as brothers and sisters in Christ, instead of married and single? What if we continued to cultivate friendships after marriage and didn't just cultivate marriage? What if we waited longer to marry and tried to be friends with more people and do more for God before putting on the old shackles of marriage. (kidding about the shackles - cool down!)

  I read an interesting article the other day titled "How to be single in public." The writer's point was how he has become comfortable doing things on his own, and I can relate. I myself have become single in public. It no longer bothers me to eat out on my own,,,though the "just one?" question still bugs me a bit. I enjoy solitude and have become used to and comfortable doing things on my own. I wouldn't mind company now and then, but I don't have to have it to have fun and enjoy myself.

  On this coming Monday, I am going to do something I have never done before: I am taking a 2 day trip all by myself. I live about 1 1/2 hours from the Amish section of Ohio, and am going there Monday and spending the night at an inn and doing some shopping and sightseeing, it is a package deal that includes dinner and breakfast  at my choice of 3 different restaurants, along with 15 different places to go and get a free gift. The gifts are a pound of cheese, candles, lunch meat, and other different items. One of my co-workers is calling it my Amish scavenger hunt. I am taking my laptop, a couple of movies, a book, and my Bible (and of course a change of clothing and deodorant)  and am going to enjoy Monday and Tuesday in Amish country all by myself. It is something I couldn't have seen myself doing a few years ago, but things like this weren't made for just married people, so why should I not go?

  And while I am at it, I may discard this "single" label. Single indicates alone, just one, solitary.....and I am not alone. I have family, friends, and God. Maybe a better term for us to use would be unmarried.... after all, you don't refer to married people as a "double".

  Paul said it was better off if we remained unmarried, for we would be able to focus on God more instead of being preoccupied with a spouse. We should not discount that. My prayer lately has been for God to use me in ways He could not use me if I was married, and that I would not become too preoccupied with anyone or anything and neglect Him.

  Jesus said there will be no marriage or giving of marriage in Heaven. That means we will all be unmarried..... so I just have a head start on most of you.

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