I read something recently that equated singles with being like widows. The analogy was that single people, like widows grieve the loss of relationship. Only in the case of the single person, it is a double loss in that there was never a primary relationship to grieve in the first place. While I appreciated the acknowledgement of pain that sometimes occurs for singles, particularly since this sadness is often overlooked, it also implied that singles are doomed to a loveless life and that finding a mate is no longer a possibility.
My reaction to this example was mixed. On the one hand I can relate to grieving something that hasn’t been -i.e. a marriage. Likewise, at family gatherings, I have noticed that my 91 grandmother and I have something sort of in common. In her being a widow and my being single, we are the only people at family gatherings who don’t have mates to share with or sleep next to at night. And interestingly, we are often paired to drive together or sit together (mostly because we enjoy each other’s company but also because we have this in common).
On the other hand, although there are some occasions such as holidays and weddings that can bring up deep feelings of sadness, I hardly feel like I’m in mourning on a daily basis. Furthermore, I took issue with the author’s claim that single women (as opposed to men) bear the additional grief of not being “chosen” as someone’s special one. While once again I can relate to his analogy on some levels (particularly on days when I’m feeling on the pity pot), I can hardly equate these feelings to what a five year old feels on the playground when not picked to play on a team. The reason for this is because in relationships, it isn’t about being “chosen.” It’s about choosing – i.e. two people mutually choosing to relate and commit to one another. And when it comes to marriage, it’s also about God choosing two people that are right for one another to embark on life’s journey together.
So yes – sometimes it is sad to fly solo in a couple-centric world and in a larger church culture that often equates marriage as the end all-be all to knowing God intimately. For instance, over and over I’ve heard that marriage is the closest thing to God’s love one will ever know or experience. Does that mean one doesn’t know God’s love as profoundly as someone who is married or that one hasn’t lived a life of compromise and service for the good of others? And what of the person who presses into God when alone in one’s deepest sorrow? Does this negate the faith and comfort one experiences when God reaches out his hand and picks you up in his embrace?
τὸ δὲ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύματος ζωὴ καὶ εἰρήνη…