The Diverse Meanings and Challenges of "Singleness"
When difficulty or disappointment hits, we often long to fully grasp the situation, to find purpose and meaning in our understanding. If we know that a specific good thing will result from a seemingly bad experience, that sense of purpose can help us cope with the loss.
If I know I didn't get the job I wanted because a better job is coming soon, I can weather the disappointment more easily. If I missed my plane, but had an impactful conversation while waiting, I can feel less upset about the missed flight. Finding a sense of purpose can soothe even difficult experiences.
In the case of singleness, singles often ask, "Why am I single?" — both in attempt to control their situation and to find purpose in their pain. Yet the answer is almost never completely straightforward.
There's No Single Answer to Singleness
The "why" of singleness is so often ambiguous because the factors that result in marriage are complex and varied. Here are a few of several challenges that can stand in the way of why a single person has yet to find their mate:
- The availability of potential partners.
- The changing unspoken rules and roles of dating.
- The social skills necessary to communicate openness and interest.
And then, there's the question of chemistry and attraction.
As a single person brings their pain to you, it can be tempting to offer well-meaning, but untrue, consolation. For instance, telling a single person, "When you're satisfied and content in your singleness, God will bring the right person along." This cliched sentiment suggests a) you're still single because of your lack of contentment and satisfaction, and b) it is not ok to be sad or struggling with singleness. But singleness can be the result of sin and brokenness in the world — a manifestation of the world not being as it's supposed to be.
Think to the last time you addressed singleness in your church, either one-on-one or to the congregation. After reading these thoughts, is there anything you would have said or done differently in your approach?
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