Monday, November 01, 2010

The Declaration Of Independance

I'm kinda pissed off, and here's why - it has to do with relationships. You see, I've heard a lot of talk recently about people being set up. I've heard it from single friends, who are being set up (and sometimes frustrated by it) and I've heard my married friends talk about it, as in "Who can we set up So&So with?", and I've just been hearing it around a lot lately. And I'm just saying, right here, right now, that it's time to get something straight people:

Being single is not a disease. It's not an affliction. It's not a curse. It's not a drag. It's not a bother. Being single is a gift. It is a privilege. An opportunity. And I'm here to write the Singles Declaration of Independence! For me, and for all my awesome single friends out there who are tired of being considered second-class citizens in the social hierarchy of relationships, for every single person out there who's tired of hearing how being single must suck so badly, this is for you!

A few weeks ago, a conversation I overheard got me thinking about this subject, of how we view and treat the single people around us. I happened to overhear a conversation between one of my good friends and one of our mutual friends' mother. Said mutual friend happens to be a great guy, and happens to be single. The mother of the mutual friend was singing the praises of her son, and my friend was concurring, as well she should, that he is quite the catch. They were going on and on about how any woman would be lucky to get a great guy like him and how they can't believe he's still single. Then they started to speculate as to why he'd never tried online dating before, and my friend actually made the suggestion to his mother that she get him a subscription to a Christian online dating service for Christmas. At which point I think I audibly choked. Now, I'm friends with this guy, and I'm pretty sure that's the last thing he wants in his Christmas stocking this year, but I could be wrong. But I'm pretty sure I'm not.

Here's the thing folks, what started off as an innocent enough conversation, praising a praiseworthy guy, slipped down a treacherous slope pretty quickly. It went from innocent, to speculative, to manipulative, all within about 5 minutes. And the guy they were talking about, well he's none the wiser, and now a little bit at their mercy, since they're choosing to take his relationship status into their own hands. Grrr!!!!

But that's not the real travesty of the situation. I think one of the saddest things about this situation was the utter lack of regard for this guy's feelings that were being displayed. It was bordering on disrespect. He is choosing to be single, and instead of upholding him in his decision, they were trying to find ways to get around it. By doing so, they were implying. whether they realized it or not, that his decision isn't the right one, and that he must not really be happy or satisfied in it. After all, who would choose to be single, right? You know, I'm 250% sure that this guy, if he wanted to, could go out and date anyone he wanted to right now. But the fact that he's not dating anyone says to me, well that he doesn't want to date anyone. And shouldn't we all respect that?

And the point that my conclusion makes is this - any of us single people, if we wanted to, could be dating someone right now. If. We. Wanted. To. It's a sad fact that I could dial up any number of low-life ex-boyfriends and say the right words to worm my way back into their lives. If I wanted to. I could go online and meet some guy who's booklist is limited to Guns & Ammo or who feels that the three things he can't live without are "Guns, Sports Bars & Makin' Love" and say the right words and flash the right smiles and get me a date or two or three right now. And I'm not even that cute. Think about those men and women who are actually considered a catch by popular standards!

What's really going on here, is that for the first time in a hundred years, we're encountering a generation who knows deep down that it's really better (as in quality of life better; more fun, more enjoyable & rewarding) to be single, than to compromise their high standards to date someone for the mere sake of being in a relationship. It's just that our mothers and their mother's mother's and so on and so forth may not have had the freedom of that choice, in the way that we do now. Being single 50 years ago was such a social stigma and personal dilemna of constraint in all areas of life that hardly anyone would have chosen to remain unmarried. Women who were unmarried had a much harder time financially, socially and in numerous realms of life. It just wasn't a feasible or pleasant option. Not if you could help it. And for those who couldn’t manage, for whatever reasons, to even snag someone to like them, well they were labeled with such disparaging terms as spinster, old maid, or even (shudder at the thought) crazy cat lady. They were looked down upon, as deficient, or lacking.

Yet here were are, our mother's daughters, and for the first time in decades, we don't need a man to be accepted as an integral or contributing member of society. We don't need a man to take care of us financially, or emotionally, or physically anymore. Nor do our men need women around for the mere sake of keeping a home, or bearing children. We have progressed to the point that as a generation, we feel the freedom of not needing to be in a relationship to feel fulfilled in any part of our life (well other than sex, but that's a different story for a different time). We are capable of gleaning all the greatness out of life in our existing relationships and this is fulfilling enough that we can find contentment in our life without compromising our desires or wishes. Dating is obsolete as a necessity to having or doing the things we want to do or living the way we want to live. And the beauty of that situation is that it affords freedom. And freedom insures that we view relationships as a gift, and a blessing, rather than as an insurance policy.

Ideally, I’d much rather enter a dating relationship with someone knowing that they’ve swept me off my feet. I want to meet someone who's charm, laugh, intelligence, heart for the Lord, sense of humor and kind eyes remind me why it was good that I waited. I never want to be with someone only to make excuses for them, both to others, or to myself, and to live knowing that I have chosen a life of settling for mediocrity, rather than facing my own fears of being alone. Frankly, I love being alone sometimes, so why would I give up the devil I know, for the devil I don't? Why would I ever want to compromise the standards I’ve built up through years of solid friendships with godly people, for anything less than what I've learned is best? I don’t know one accomplished, content man or woman of today who would purposefully choose mediocrity in other areas of life. We aim high in our education, our careers, our spiritual growth, so it stands to reason that we should be able to choose to aim high when it comes to our love life as well. By choosing to be single, rather than date for the sake of dating, we're aiming high, shooting for the moon, and hoping to land in the stars. We are choosing to hold out for a perfect gift from God, someone who truly deserves our patient years, rather than trolling in a constant state of desperation or resigning ourselves to the well-meaning but often blinded set ups of prying relatives. And I think that is an honorable and noble thing.

I would be lying if I said that being single is always fun. It's not always a walk in the park. There are questions to answer, like the one the other night from my dad, when he asked me if I had a boyfriend, and when I said no, then proceeded to ask me if I had a girlfriend. I'd rather not face ignorant relatives who can't comprehend that I would choose to be alone, and would rather accept me being homosexual, than as being picky.

There are times I wish I did have a husband around. Like last night, when the Nyquil I had taken to abate my cold was kicking in. I realized my legs were like leaden bricks and I was too tired to even get up from bed and grab a glass of water to quench my cottonlike mouth. I just wanted a glass of water, but was lingering between sleep and wakefulness, and couldn't get up. Would a sweet and loving husband have done it for me, got me that glass of water? Yeah, probably. There are times when I really get the urge to write nice, encouraging little notes and put them in somebody’s lunch sack. Or drop in at work with a plate of cookies for that special someone, just to make their day. Could I do that for a boyfriend or husband? Heck yeah. Knowing that we’re created to be relational creatures, by a loving God who paired up pretty much everything here on earth, makes it easier to deal with those feelings as they arise. But if you're thinking of lecturing me on how God said it wasn't good for us to be alone, please try to remember that though we are blessed in our singleness, we don’t always need you to be out crying against it, for us. We can do that pretty decently on our own. If we wanted to.

And really, any minor and fleeting challenges’ aside, by and large being single is truly the gift that the Apostle Paul described it as. Only recently has the realization of what the freedom of singleness looks like occurred to me. Some of this realization comes from more time spent with my married friends. I applaud them in their dedication to a life of self sacrifice, discipline, compromise and hard work. They ones I spend the most time with do it so well, and so beautifully, that it too shows a side of God's relationship with us and Himself that brings Him glory.

Yet, as I look at the time and energy and devotion they spend, I also take a look at my life, and know that it is my singleness that buys me the freedom to do all the wonderful things I get to do in it. Singleness buys me the time I get to devote to the youth group kids and Sunday School kids I love, outside of Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. Singleness buys me the time to read fifteen books on hospitality, to prepare for the class I get to teach. It buys me the time to sign up for every dance class I can take, and to do so with other single friends who have the time to boogie along with me. Singleness buys me the time I get to spend on friends' sofas, whether they're married or single, or on my own chair just spending time with Jesus, who is always the best company of them all.

This is time I would never have to spare if I were in a relationship. Not because it robs me of freedom, but because relationships are hard work, and they require attention. That time, energy, devotion and attention are items that single people have the luxury of choosing where else they’d like to spend it. There are so many opportunities and chances we get to take, that our married friends don’t, and that is truly a gift. And while we recognize that they are blessed in their own ways, we too, contrary to popular belief, are blessed. And most of the time, if you take a second to ask us, we're pretty darn content about it too.

I'd like to make one thing clear here. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not dissing marriage or my married friends or anyone who's dating or in a relationship. What I am doing, or trying to do, is #1, compare apples to oranges, to show you, the reader, that, in all fairness, two distinctly separate and different things should not be compared to each other, and #2, send out a cry that it's high time that those of you who are inclined to matchmaking as the solution for all our problems, might consider upholding us single people in our decision to be single as a better alternative.

So, next time you are inclined to set us up, please stop and think to yourself, are you words better spent praising the work we’re doing with the free time our singleness affords? Next time you’re tempted to feel sorry for us, because we’re in our 30’s (or however old we may be) and still single, step back and look at our faces. Are we smiling as we serve? Are we fulfilled and joyful in our friendships? Are we really bemoaning the state of our relationship status on Facebook, or are you? Most of the time we’re not the ones who are so unhappy about our present state of affairs, for those that truly are, usually go out and do something about it, and don’t remain in our ranks too long. I would like to urge you, next time concern for our lack of dating strikes you, instead of offering to arrange a dinner between us and your eligible 50 year old, basement dwelling nephew, invite us to dinner with yourself instead, so we can get to know you, and more importantly, you can get to know us more. I think you might be surprised to find that we’re a pretty decent bunch, just the way we are.

And that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

1 comment:

Heather said...

You have just successfully put to words that which I have struggled to explain for YEARS.

I love it Trinette. Thank God you're single - or your screaming children may not have afforded you the time to write this little gem that I will be referencing for inspiration in the future. Nice work.