I spent much of yesterday afternoon feeling sorry for myself. My stalwart band of single friends has been steadily shrinking since graduation, but recently people seem to be deserting in record numbers, leaving me (and a few others) to fend for ourselves on the battlefield of loneliness. Okay, that metaphor was a little melodramatic. But, really–it’s kind of depressing that my social life might now consist of merely tagging along as the third (or fifth, or seventh…) wheel on my friends’ dates.
So yesterday, as Danielle (one of those traitors) and I prepared for our 56 Club lesson series on the Beatitudes, I was kind of grumpy. “We should include ‘blessed are the single’ some week,” I suggested, only half joking as I lay on the ground drinking my Blenders smoothie loudly and bitterly. It’s not that I’m so desperate for a man; it’s that romantic relationships are necessarily exclusive, and the vast network of these relationships sometimes seems to leave little room for the unattached. Sometimes (after a little too much wine and Sister Wives) I even find myself questioning the wisdom of monogamy: Christ redefines family relationships in terms of the Church–in which we’re all one, not just little pods of couples or nuclear families–right?
But then the kids showed up, only five of them this week, and we all went out into the warm, early summer evening to play on the church’s fantastic new playground, and I climbed high up on the jungle gym and went down the slide backwards and joined the kids in laughing at Jason when he spun too fast on the merry-go-round and almost threw up. I felt joy. And I remembered how especially joyful these past two weeks have really been, even when (and often because) I’ve been surrounded by my twitterpated friends.
And I breathed a prayer of thanks I’ve been repeating lately: God, thank You that You honor singleness, that, truly, eschatologically, I am blessed. Christianity declares that singleness is holy, that it’s not a sign of incompleteness, that, in fact, it’s a gift. It doesn’t promise I won’t be lonely, it doesn’t mean I want to be single forever. But, counter to the conventional wisdom of other traditions (sorry, Mormonism, I’m mainly thinking of you), it insists that there is nothing wrong with me because I’m single. Loneliness is not the same as inadequacy. I have an equal place in the economy of the Kingdom, in which curses turn into blessings and the meek can inherit the earth. I am enough, and God is enough, even when singleness sucks.
(And yes, I believe God also blesses marriage, and I’m usually a fan of monogamy, too.)