By Evelmyn Ivens
My parents divorced when I was 4, and growing up I saw marriage as something very distant and something that I wasn’t that interested in. Now reflecting back I was probably worried that I would end up divorced as well. When I began my faith journey and my personal relationship with Jesus, I began to see marriage more positively, and something that I wanted for my life. For most of my 20s and now early 30s I’ve been comfortable being single and very much love it. I have moved across the country, travelled, and accomplished many things that I dreamt about. I learned to live on my own and be with myself, even though sometimes it is hard to be face to face with oneself. All these years I have truly enjoyed the single life.
Yet, there are those times that I don’t want to be on my own anymore, the more I see friends and cousins start to get married and have children, there’s this sense of being out of that world. As the three previous posts, there is this issue of belonging. For years I attended Spanish-speaking churches and marriage it’s a big deal. I remember one time; a girl (in her early20s) asked me how old I was and I said 28. Her response was “and you are not married?” As if I was there was something wrong with me! I just happened to be working on my MA. Culturally, I did not fit the mold.
That was one of the reasons I stopped attending church in Spanish, people would see me as the weird one, who is not married. Or they would feel sorry for me because I was not married. From the pulpit the topic of being single was never preached on, the ongoing message was on family, being good parents, being the obedient children, etc. I honestly, very much understand that, the majority rules, but it would it been great to be acknowledged. I really liked Cathy’s post The Idolatry of Marriage, because I think we do, we idealize it, I heard so many times specially at church, that being married was the path to happiness.
I definitely think that being married is good; there are many friends and people who I know, who have great marriages, and they seemed to be very happy. Yet, being single it is also good! It is an opportunity to do wherever you want, make good decisions or bad decisions, but it is one’s choice. It may sound a bit selfish but I believe that as a woman, it makes me feel empowered. At the same time, this feeling of empowerment conflicts with what I’ve experienced in the church. When being single leaves you on the margins.
I will end by echoing the concern posted in the previous posts, how could the church acknowledge the contribution of single people? And how could we make everyone feel welcome? At the end we all want to belong, we long to belong, how can we be that church?