About a month ago, I mentioned I was working on some long-term projects, and so I might not be posting on my blog as often. But now one of those long-term projects sparked an issue for me, and I want to address it. The project I’m working on is for a collaborative book project on singleness, and my chapter is about realizing that you are an adult and a whole person, regardless of marital status.
As I wrote, I began to think about one way we contribute to single people thinking the opposite is true. The conversation–whether in person or on facebook–usually goes something like this:
Single person: I’m so sad I’m not in a relationship.
Friend #1: Don’t worry, your turn will come some day. Just look at [insert name and story]!
Friend #2: Just be patient, God has the perfect person waiting just for you!
So… since when did we become all-knowing about destiny and/or God’s plans for other people? I know, I know, we’re just trying to make them feel better. But are we really helping them by making things up–or lying to them?
There is no guarantee–fate-wise or Biblically–that anyone is going to find a lasting romantic relationship. Many people do get married; many people don’t. Some people marry and have a good experience; some people get married and have a terrible experience. (Most people probably have a bit of both).
When we tell people that they are definitely going to find a long-term relationship one day, we contribute to the notion that they are owed something (by God or by the universe). If people don’t get what they feel they are supposed to have, they are going to have some serious disillusionment and/or feel like something is wrong with them. If they do get what they feel they are supposed to have, they are going to have unrealistic expectations about what that person and that relationship is supposed to be for them. At the same time, telling people they will find a long-term relationship, we help perpetuate the idea that life is not meaningful unless you are in a romantic relationship.
I’m not suggesting we say, “Hey dude, too bad, it’s just not going to happen for you.” That would be just as ridiculous. But we can take the time to respond thoughtfully instead of saying what’s easy and what will help them feel better for a moment. Try acknowledging how they are feeling about not having a relationship. Maybe, if they seem open, make a few practical suggestions about ways to meet people who are similar to them. Mention your hopes or prayers for them, sure, but please don’t tell them something is going to happen when you have no way of knowing that.
Most importantly, I would suggest we start affirming that person for who they are now, for the ways God’s using them now, for the relationships they have now.
Because that person is already a worthy person living a life that matters–right now.