How to Deal with Being Single in the Family-Centric Church [Dear Addie Column #9]

How to Deal with Being Single in the Family-Centric Church

I hesitated to write my newest Dear Addie post on this topic because I am not a single person. Whatever else I have to deal with when it comes to my church angst, I don’t have to do it as a somewhat marginalized demographic. I am in the midst of my young-family years, and I am the person most churches seem to have in mind when they arrange events and classes and programs.

Still, when I received this note from Exploring — who has decided that maybe she doesn’t actually want to have a husband and kids after all — I couldn’t stop thinking about it. She writes:

I realized the person who is childless for personal reasons does not exist in the narrative. There are families, those unlucky people who cannot find a spouse or are unable to have children for medical reasons / tragic life circumstances, and people who choose singleness for God (mostly missionaries and clergy). And there are those selfish non-Christians who do not want children because it would curtail their leisure time. (Not my opinion, but a quote.) It seems there is no room for people in the church who simply do not want a family. How do I deal with this both emotionally and scripturally?

I wrote some thoughts at Off the Page, though they’re such a far cry from what the church — what each of us — really needs to hear when it comes to welcoming singles. Still, I hope they help in some small way. Head over there with me now?

6 thoughts on “How to Deal with Being Single in the Family-Centric Church [Dear Addie Column #9]

  1. Addie, Have I told you lately that I love you? What’s that? Oh, right! We don’t actually know each other & you can’t magically hear my thoughts after I read one of your pieces. Darn it!
    I love this entire answer but especially the part about parents still being selfish. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read it the way you put it. I feel like this so often & I wrestle about if I should feel bad about it or just accept it. Is me being selfish bad? Not just taking time for myself or having a well deserved break but actively choosing my own desires when I should be helping my kids. Not by doing drugs or drinking, just to clarify, but by reading more of my book or just lounging & looking at my phone.
    I have done so much for these people & I love them with my whole heart but sometimes I don’t want to help them, I don’t want to watch them, or hear their story or play. My kids are 10 & 12 so they are able to do so much on their own but of course they still need me. I’m just starting to realize (as I write this) that maybe I feel like I gave them so much when they were younger that now I’m just tired. & sometimes I do listen & watch & soak them up like a moisturizer on dry skin. But lots of times I just don’t. & the run isn’t over, it’s just a bit easier job wise (no more wiping bottoms or making every single meal). I guess at the heart of this much-longer-than-I-ever-intended comment is: Will I regret being a selfish parent or will I regret not being a selfish parent?
    & what started out as an Addie, you’re awesome! has now become a question. Funny how that happened as I talked about being selfish, right?
    Anyway…
    I do think you’re awesome & I am always thankful to read the questions you are sent & for your thoughtful answers.
    Thanks for letting me use your comment section as a journal this morning 🙂

    1. Use my comment section as a journal anytime! And I hear you — trying to balance doing what YOU need to do…while also trying to enjoy this fleeting time of life — that’s tough to figure out. Grace to you in your journey.

  2. This is so good Addie. I feel like I’ve been fighting an internal battle on the kids front — to have or not to have. I want kids and also don’t want kids and I don’t know what to do about it. I love my life the way it is, or at least the way it’s headed right now, and so I hesitate to add kids to the equation. But I also know my husband and I want kids deep down. We just can’t see where they fit right now. And church and church friends have not been helpful on this front — it doesn’t help to hear about how kids will change everything and surely I will love being a mom and having kids is my duty. I don’t know if any of that is true, but it’s certainly not helpful! But this post was beautiful and honest and I loved every word.

    1. Glad this post helped in some way…or at least made you feel less alone. Kids do change everything — in beautiful ways, in hard ways, in strange and unexpected ways. Grace to you one whatever decision you end up making.

  3. Hi addie, I was wondering if you would have more thoughts on the focus on the family movement? I grew up in conservative Christian circles where the family is “the building block of society”.

    1. I did too. Focus on the Family was BIG in my growing up years. I haven’t written exclusively about it before, but I think that when we talk about the family as “the building block of society,” we’re missing the way that God builds families out of strangers through Christ. I’ll have to think more about it and write a more specific post! Thanks for the comment!

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