A couple of years ago my oldest son and some of his other friends who had no girlfriends declared Valentine’s Day S. A. D. — Single Awareness Day. 🙂
I can imagine that this day can feel awkward, sad, or even painful for single people.
Some years ago my eyes were opened, so to speak, about how things can look and feel to single people in church (in general, not just in relation to Valentine’s Day) by the article “Single on Sunday Morning” by Camerin Courtney. One comment she makes is, “I think churches, in their quest to restore ‘family values’ to modern society, have simply overlooked those of us who aren’t currently in families.” I think that can be true. In discussions about this with single ladies on a couple of Christian message boards I have participated in, I’ve tried to convey that families do need help. Society does seem to be undermining the Christian concept of a family, and, even if it wasn’t, most people don’t go into marriage or parenthood knowing what it is all about (those who think they do are usually humbled very quickly. 🙂 ) Plus, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…” (II Timothy 3:16-17). There are passages directed to pastors, husbands, fathers, oxen-owners, etc., that may not seem to apply to me directly, but when I come to those in the Bible or hear them preached on in church, I need to try to see what God wants me to see and understand from those passages. So, too, with passages or messages about marriage and family — there are many parallels between those relationships and our relationship with God.
Yet, I can see how church can seem to be geared towards couples and families. Not long after discovering this article, our Sunday School class leader was discussing an upcoming fellowship for our class. Someone asked if they could bring children, and our leader said, “No, this event is couples-only.” I know he meant adults rather than couples, but I winced at that, especially as two single ladies in my line of vision looked at each other and smiled (and, ironically, the event was being held at the home of one of them).
I am not sure what all of the answers are, except to watch out for that kind of thing and to try to be more thoughtful and sensitive. I am sure the answer is not for single people to pull away. Another comment Camerin made in the above article was, “I think we singles have been guilty of segregating ourselves and not operating as fully-functioning parts of the body of Christ.” If you study some of the single women mentioned in the Bible — Anna, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, Lydia, Dorcas — they are all active in the body of Christ, very much a part of things, serving Him and serving others.
I have known some single women who felt 100% sure that God wanted them single and were happy to be so. I’ve known some who seemed very hurt and sensitive, almost bitter about being single. And I have known some who were willing to be single if God wanted them to be but really would like to be married and tried to patiently wait on Him while sometimes battling with contentment and loneliness.
If I may share this, that’s something we all have in common no matter what our situation: we all have to deal with contentment and loneliness, just in different particulars. Even married people can feel lonely when a spouse is away, disagrees with them, or doesn’t understand them. That’s one of the things you read in almost any article or book about marriage or relationships: no one person can ever meet all of your needs all of the time or understand you fully and completely. Married or single, we need to be secure in our relationship with the Lord and in who we are in Him.
In some ways I am even hesitant to write these things for fear of a “Well, what would you know about it” reaction. I want to be encouraging, not come across as patronizing. But let me share a couple of other articles by single women. One is by the same Camerin Courtney about 6 years after the one I mentioned earlier, titled “Renegotiating My Seat in the House of God.” I had been pondering these two articles for some time already when the e-mail devotional I receive daily from Back to the Bible made up of Elisabeth Elliot’s writings delivered one titled “Singleness Is a Gift” (As I went to link to that one, I saw that Back to the Bible no longer includes the devotionals from previous days: only the current day’s devotionals are there. In searching for and trying to find a link to the article, I kept getting error messages. That’s too bad — it was a very good article!! But it was from her book On Asking God Why.) Also, I just discovered a discussion at Challies in response to the post, “A Question For the Single Folk.”
I’ve gone from Valentine’s Day to the church at large, but if I can bring us back to this day, for a moment, may I share one bit of unsolicited advice? If someone wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day today, please don’t, as someone did to me today, respond by saying, “Happy Wednesday.” That does come acoss as bitter and feels like a slap in the face to one who only wanted to wish you well and to share a bit of love. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just about romantic love.
But whatever you do today, whether you acknowledge Valentine’s Day or not, I hope you have a good day and know that you are loved. 🙂