By Lenore Three Stars
I’ve been single most of my life, except for five tumultuous years that left me with the blessing of a son. By careless choice, I had years of careless, short-term relationships that left me empty. When I was 30, I became a head-over-heels believer, a new creation ready to follow Jesus anywhere. In my new church culture, I often felt that I did this thing backwards, showing up single with a son. I was not a fit even in the singles group. When I momentarily slipped back to old-creation behavior with an old boyfriend, I knew that pit and I did not want back into it.
I earnestly asked Jesus to help me not want any part of it. He did and I didn’t look back. I didn’t become anti-marriage or anti-dating – the desire for that was merely idle. It felt more like freedom. When my son was going away to college, he must have had an interesting conversation with his best friend about leaving me alone. They lamented to his friend’s mom, “Lenore doesn’t have a boyfriend and she isn’t even trying!” I hadn’t recognized it in those terms but it was true.
In my office, matchmakers didn’t want to understand that – I think the implication of celibacy was cringeworthy – it’s not natural, right? I didn’t know anyone I’d want to talk with about this. I tried to analyze my noninterest and wondered if the fact that I never had a godly relationship with a man had left me relationally sterile. I remember my relationships as about 30% bliss and 70% heartache, and who wants that. From what I heard, marriage doesn’t prevent heartache. But, I’m actually not cynical, I’ve been around some rich marriages and admired them. It looks like a lot of hard work but, apparently, worth it. No, I believe that I’d been given what I longed for, a profound gift of contentment in my relationships with Jesus, family and friends.
My journey as a single person has led me into leadership and ministry and through a satisfying career. In terms of ministry, I’ve often felt alone but, truthfully, I attribute that less to being single and more to being in a non-idigenous church culture that doesn’t fully value women, especially if they are elders (in native culture, elders start at about age 50!).
Now, I’m retired and the matchmakers have given up. OK, yes, I had 2 cats who gave me 18 years of fond presence. Personally, I cherish community but I only need one good friend. When I feel like a roomful of people laughing, eating, and playing cards, I make it happen. So, for me singleness is now the proverbial checkbox. If there were a boxes for ‘cooking, learning, powwowing, volunteering, mentoring, and loving on my takojas (grandkids),’ I’d check those too.