At times, I wonder where I belong in the world, especially the Christian world. Some days I wonder if I belong anywhere. I had one of those days recently. I am older and still single. Often when people find that out, they want to help me find my husband, whether that means finding a single man to try to connect me with or praying for me to find a husband.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind being married. Sometimes I just wonder if American culture has room for single women. Churches have groups or events for young adults, couples, and families. Occasionally there are singles groups, and I wonder if people assume that all the singles will fit in there. But some of the singles groups consist of people who are many years older than me. One I looked into and was told I’d be welcomed at, but it was made clear to me that I would be the youngest one there. Thus, it again felt like somewhere I didn’t quite belong.
Furthermore, I have a friend who says she places her family before work but only keeps in touch with friends by running into them. Now, I understand that you need time for your family and work and shouldn’t be neglecting either. But honestly, as a single woman, this is hard for me. If people don’t make time for their friends, where can I fit in?
In addition, there are the comments people make. I’m sure people have the best intentions when they tell me that the only question worth asking is whether or not I’ve met a man. Many times, I end up feeling like I am broken and people are trying to fix me. It seems like somehow they believe that if I could just get married, my life would be better. I have believed that before and sometimes still do. It’s easy to believe in our culture. With movies like Cinderella, where finding her prince saves her from a cruel family life, it’s easy to think marriage will solve our problems. Or in this day and age, perhaps we don’t believe in “fairy tale” endings but do think that finding our soulmate will solve all our problems. Does that really work? Obviously, there are many happily married couples, but not all marriages are happy. Also, many marriages have ended.
Is marriage the only way to be happy? In her book Women at the Crossroads: A Path Beyond Feminism & Traditionalism, Kari Torjesen-Malcom argues that Americans place too much emphasis on marriage. She had been a missionary living in another culture where women wanted to stay single at least for a while to serve God. In the past, there were monasteries where single women could go and live among other single women. In fact, in certain periods of history, those living in monasteries were thought to be holier than those who were married. With the rise of Lutheranism and the decline of Catholicism, singleness became less accepted. Today, it doesn’t seem to be accepted at all in the United States. What if she’s right?
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul writes that he prefers people to stay single unless they are already married. His reasons are that people who are single can focus more on God. If being single is an option in the Bible, why does it feel so unacceptable today? I do believe marriage is beautiful and is a gift from God. However, I also believe there has to be room for singles as well. What happens if I never get married? Do I need to feel like I have no hope for a future?
I believe that God can use my life right here, right now. No matter what it looks like. Whether I ever get married or not, and even if the other circumstances in my life aren’t perfect. Whatever my life is like, God can use it if I am willing to allow him to use it. God can use anyone and everyone. Maybe the next time you encounter a single person, instead of asking them if they’ve met anyone yet, you could ask them what they are doing with their life, about their relationship with God, or how God is using them. Isn’t that what is more important anyway?
Rachel Roen enjoys learning, traveling, and spending time with friends. She recently completed her master’s degree in strategic leadership and is looking forward to the next adventure God has in store.