In the past month, I've presided at three weddings, which always causes me to ponder the possibilities/limitations of marriage and of being single.
I frequently quote the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor in my marriage meditation, saying to the couple about to make a lifelong vow of faithfulness to one another, before God and in the presence of the congregation: "as much as you love one another, you may never fully comprehend one another, and this may help you learn how to love God. 'What is true in a good marriage is even truer in faith: The Other is an unfathomable mystery who defies our predictions, who eludes our control, and who finally draws us outside ourselves so that we live fuller lives than we could ever have lived alone.'" (Circuit Rider, January/February 1999)
Do you know that more than 80 million people in the United States are living single, either from the death of a spouse, separation, divorce or never choosing to marry? If you are single and reading this, you may not feel that is the case -- you may feel quite alone in being single and long to be married.
I know such feelings. But God may be up to something more in our being single -- it is easy to assume that being single leads only to dead ends, partly because we are saturated by country songs, sitcoms, and movies that assume life is a quest for marital bliss.
Is that really the main quest of life? What if God is up to something else through being single? Susan Muto in "Celebrating the Single Life" articulates what has been on my heart this past month and for the past 10 years: "How can we as single persons grow more gracious, joyful, open, receptive and relaxed about our lives, avoiding all closed or defensive postures?"
Rather than dead ends, being single can open up a rich life with God and others.
Living single can open up possibilities for being quiet and alone, time for developing a friendship with God. Our culture seems terrified of silence; could it be we're afraid of the noise in our hearts, afraid of what we'll hear, afraid of being alone? God meets us in solitude and silence, tenderly calling us Beloved, binding up our broken hearts, making us whole. Without a friendship with God, the gift of aloneness quickly becomes the prison of loneliness.
Jesus says to us: "I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I heave learned from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you." John 15:15b-16a
Living single also opens up possibilities for friendship with others of different ages and places in life. We are not born knowing how to build a friendship; I started to learn how to build friendships when I was in kindergarten and my family moved halfway through the school year, and again in third grade, fourth, fifth and ninth grades. I realized I needed to step out of my natural shy, reserved self to meet new people. All those family moves prepared me for living single and fostering friendships throughout my life.
Whenever I move to a new community, I ask the Lord to give me at least one good friend. In six different communities, God has never failed to provide rich friendships. Living single and struggling with loneliness and self-pity can draw us out of ourselves, if we let God into the struggle. In the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, "we will live fuller lives than we could have alone," with God as friend and with all the people God brings into our single lives.
Are you looking for others who are walking single for a season or for a lifetime? Solo InC (Seeking Out Lovable Others in Christ) is an alternative to the bar scene for singles ages 30-60 to build fun, supportive and life-giving relationships with one another, God, creation and the wider community.
We meet together monthly to share food, conversation (we're talking about how men and women can build one another up instead of tear one another down using the book "Men are from Moab, Women are from Israel"), laughter and a new perspective. We serve others who have need -- Habitat for Humanity monthly service day with Brainerd Area Singles and individuals in Solo InC who need a hand. And we plan a monthly social event -- on the Fourth of July, after the parade a Solo InC group will gather in front of the stage at the Brainerd High School football field by the helium balloons.
If you'd like to be on the mailing list for a monthly postcard of upcoming events, call me, Pastor Jennifer Wilson, at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, at 828-9374.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.