WAY TO MAKE IT AWKWARD
THE AWKWARD PROBLEM
One Sunday, while away from my home church, I ran into some people who knew my parents. A man I’d never met before instigated the following dialogue, him half-shouting the whole time (possibly due to hearing loss):
MAN: ARE YOU DOUG AND TINA’S DAUGHTER?
MAN: ARE YOU MARRIED?
MAN: WELL... GET MARRIED!
MAN: YOUR MOM WANTS GRANDKIDS!
ME: My mom already has nine grandkids.
MAN: WELL, SHE WANTS MORE!
That was our whole conversation.
It should be noted that this question would have driven some singles to weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth—especially singles who earnestly desire to marry or have recently suffered romantic disappointment. Fortunately for this man, I don’t embarrass easily, nor am I surprised any more by this sort of behavior.
Why did this man feel comfortable walking up to me, a virtual stranger, and making pointed comments about my personal life in front of God and everybody? Would this man have approached an unknown young married woman to make loud-voiced comments about her marriage?
Maybe he would have. But you know what I’m getting at. At least, I hope you do. My single friends know what I’m talking about. We all have some version of that story.
OPEN SEASON ON SINGLES
For some reason, it’s always open season on singles. I don’t know why, but it seems that because we’re not married, others feel great freedom to ask deeply personal questions while we’re surrounded by an audience.
Even if these people are strangers. Especially if they’re strangers. It’s nearly always unsettling, but we’ve found that if we betray even a hint of frustration or annoyance during these public spectacles, we come across as defensive and are labeled as Bitter Singles. The general consensus seems to be that if we’re going to be single past our twenties, the least we can do is be gracious about it (even though the source of our frustration in that moment is most likely not our singleness but in having been called out in front of a group).
When people find out that I’m in my late thirties and not married, they generally launch into a specific series of questions:
• You’re not married?
• Why aren’t you married?
• Did you ever want to be married?
• Do you think you ever will get married?
• What’s wrong with all these guys?
Those aren’t easy questions to answer (especially the last one, which I’ll tackle in more detail later). Besides that, it’s hard to imagine a world in which, when I meet new married friends, I immediately start grilling them on their personal choices.
• You’re married?
• Why are you married?
• Do you want to be married?
• Do you think you’ll stay married?
• What was wrong with all the other people you could have married, but didn’t?
I certainly wouldn’t ask such questions the first time we meet, especially not in front of an audience. So why does this happen so often to singles?
* * * * *
The Proper Care and Feeding of Singles: How Pastors, Marrieds, and Church Leaders Effectively Support Solo Members releases Tuesday, November 7, 2017, from Write Integrity Press.
Chapter Titles Include:
Chapter Titles Include:
- "I See Single People"
- "Way to Make It Awkward"
- "Tacked On"
- "Mind the Gap"
- "Singles Only"
- "When Enough Isn't Enough"
- "Perceptions and Misconceptions"
- "When Harry Met Sally (and the Whole Church Got Involved)"
- "Can't We All Just Get Along?"
- "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"
- "Walking in a Dateless Wonderland"
- "On Giving Advice"
- "The Space Between"
Each short chapter concludes with discussion questions and practical action points. Praying for the Lord to use this book to strengthen and encourage the Body of Christ!