Archives For Singleness

Several months ago I signed up for eHarmony to prove to all the imaginary critics in my life that I was doing my part to get married. You know, all those people out there who mutter under their breath about how I’d be married if I just tried harder. By the time I’d typed in my credit card number, I’d practically composed an entire speech about how I’d spent my twenties trying to get married and I wasn’t about to waste my thirties doing the same, especially if God intended to keep me single. This didn’t strike me as odd—spending my hard earned wages on internet dating just to prove some theoretical faultfinders wrong—until I heard my niece wailing about the Play-do in her tights. That’s when I realized it was time to fire the imaginary critics.

 

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I was FaceTiming my sister-in-law when my five year old niece found Play-do smashed into her tights. As her mom told her to pack up the dough so they could get to church on time, my niece began to whimper about needing her tights washed. Her mom said there wasn’t time and that no one would notice, but my niece began to wail that they would. Who? The mean people. Those all-seeing, all-knowing, invisible judges who zero in on bits of Play-do smashed into tights, who whisper disparagingly about single women who aren’t trying hard enough. It’s time to pull a Donald Trump on them and let them know for once and for all that they’re fired Continue Reading…

I don’t fit the Christian norm. I’m thirty-four, single, and working on my fourth degree. Not exactly a Proverbs 31 woman. Life took a different route than I’d planned and sometimes, especially in Christian circles, I feel out of place. I’m not the only one, though. I have a gay friend who’s chosen celibacy and two others who’ve opted for heterosexual marriage. Then there’s the single mom, the childless couple, and the guy who’s unemployed. 

 

Most conservative churches have a definition of “normal” that my friends and I can’t live up it up. It can leave us feeling confused and isolated, because most of us didn’t choose our unorthodox demographics, we just found our lives playing out on the single, gay, childless, artistic, or job-wandering stage.

 

Tattoo guy stairsPhoto courtesy of Michael Furtig via unsplash.com

 

So, how do we navigate life in the church when we don’t quite fit in? During the last decade, I discovered four secrets to thriving in the church even when I’m misunderstood Continue Reading…

Tip #1: Do something unproductive, and enjoy it.

 

We’re adults now, which means we have jobs. And, unless we have the good fortune of being artists, our workplaces can suck us into the black hole of productivity. If we’re not careful, the work week (whether it comes packaged in forty, sixty, or eighty hours) can morph us into human doers—people who compulsively check our schedules while gulping down cereal and who send work emails from the bathroom at night

 

Photo 1431949662802 397529a8a873Photo courtesy of Sander Smeekes via unsplash.com

 

Lessons from the Other Half

 

The Doctrine of Productivity affects us all, but our married friends have an advantage. They go home to human beings that require them to be unproductive (a.k.a. spouses). 

 

Just think about it. If married people want to stay married, they have to invest time (and plenty of it) in rather non-productive behaviors. They have to leave work to get home for dinner. Their spouses make them put down their phones and have real conversations. They go on date nights. And, then there’s sex—which, considering the number of kids most couples have, is rather unproductive Continue Reading…

“Maybe you’ll meet a man, hijack the wedding, and get married yourself,” my friend, Raimie, said. Bless his optimism, but Raimie came late to the Christian dating scene.

 

Unfortunately, a good number of us church-going singles ought to attend ASA–Awkward Singles Anonymous. Blame it on I Kissed Dating Goodbye if you want, but the damage is done. 

 

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Photo courtesy of Josh Felise via StockSnap.io

 

So, during the reception Chad asks Melanie to dance, hears her mumble “No, thanks,” and then watches her escape to the bathroom like a gazelle fleeing from a cheeta. 

 

At another table, Andy admires how fabulous Sarah looks in her blue holter, but says nothing. Sarah stabs another crumb with her fork and wonders, “Why do I get all dressed up, if no one notices? Continue Reading…

This summer, my family rented a cabin in the Adirondacks. For a glorious week I escaped the Texas inferno and romped around with my two nieces who are, without question, the cutest humans on the planet.  

 

One evening, as my brother, Jason, laid on the couch two-year-old Ruby climbed onto him and sprawled across his chest. For a moment, envy shot through me. I wanted what Jason had—my own family, my own kids. 

 

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Photo courtesy of Abby Bischoff via flickr.com

 

But, while parenthood is a gift, it isn’t the promised land. Before the week of family vacation was over, that reality check had already bounced. There are some definite perks to not having kids. So, in case you need a reminder of what those are, here’s a short list from my week in the Adirondacks Continue Reading…

I wrote this article for Kindred Spirit’s Summer 2015 issue “Singles and the Church.” Kindred Spirit is the magazine of Dallas Theological Seminary.


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1. See us.

 

  • If you’re a speaker, talk about marriage, but also about the possibility of celibacy and prolonged singleness. Revere all options—like the apostle Paul did. 
  • Broaden views of male and female roles beyond breadwinning and childrearing.  

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Image courtesy of Hoola Talullah via flickr.com

 

2. Validate us.

 

  • Celebrate how God is using us by admiring our contributions at work or how we met that single parent for lunch.
  • Convince us of our significance—help us understand how we can use our schedules, our relationships, and our aloneness to bless the church and fulfill the missio Dei Continue Reading…

I opened the break room door. The smell of fajitas met me, along with a man in scrubs. He stood up and shook my hand—all six feet and four inches of him and looking like someone from People’s Most Beautiful 2015.

 

One minute, it’s a normal Friday. The next, I’m fully aware of my sexuality. For the rest of the day, every muscle buzzed as if I’d guzzled a gallon of coffee.

 

Photo 1434210330765 8a00109fc773 Photo courtesy of Lechon Kirb

 

I realize that we singles aren’t the only ones who have to keep our sex-drives on a leash (see: Celibacy Is No Fun). Married people run into flirty strangers, too, and have to deal with temptation like the rest of us. Still, being single and choosing to defer sexual enjoyment until marriage has its moments (and days) of frustration Continue Reading…

My last neighbor owned a red Dodge Charger that gleamed as bright as his shaved head. He lived below me, and when his lady friends spent the night I wore earplugs. 

 

In my new apartment, I sleep in peace. Still, sex pops up everywhere—the magazine rack at the grocery store, an episode of Parks and Recreation, or the Victoria Secret catalog jammed in my mailbox. 

 

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Photo courtesy of Craig Sunter via flickr.com

 

American sexuality sings like one of Homer’s sirens. Movies and magazines seduce us into believing that happiness comes from a romp through the sheets, and the prospect of a sexless existence feels like an assaults on our humanity. 

 

For singles who choose celibacy until marriage, a healthy sex-drive can feel like a curse. Despite what married people say about enjoying singleness and the challenges of marriage, sometimes we just want to have sex Continue Reading…

Sometimes, I don’t mind singleness–when I’m hiking between cacti on the border of Mexico, taking a selfie at the Meyerson before the violins warm up, or forking a pumpkin ravioli with brown butter sauce in downtown Dallas. On these days, I might even like being single.

But, sometimes, singleness is the ache to feel a shoulder against my salty cheek, to feel an arm weigh on me as I flutter at the edges of sleep… 

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…for the scent of Gillette aftershave to interrupt my French Roast reveries, for the clack of oxfords on the stoop at six, for two steaming bowls of corn and jalapeño chowder, for a kiss that bristles after dark, and for another set of tired eyes to scan the small, black figures on the spreadsheet labelled “House Search.”

What does singleness feel like?

It depends on when you’re asking.

A giant, purple muumuu cascaded over her large, mocha body as she sat in my exam room. I still suspect that catching cold delighted Mrs. Rodriguez*, since it gave her a reason to see everyone at the office. 

 

A retired kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Rodriguez carried around bucketfuls of pent-up love. Each time I saw her, I got a little dousing–a blue tote that reminded her of her beloved bluebonnets that I must see one day, a heart-shaped necklace at Valentine’s, or gas station burritos. 

 

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Photo courtesy of Phillip Howard via flickr.com 

 

“Best burritos in Rochester,” she said. “You’ve got to know where the real Mexicans cook.”  

 

That day, she proffered this gem: “Enjoy singleness, Shannon. Once you get married, you can’t just walk around the house tooting.” 

Continue Reading…