The Single’s FOMO…

I was talking with a couple other girls not long ago, and we were discussing the difficulty in being single in Christian circles…

In many instances, and in many churches, getting married quickly becomes the goal or at least the thing that girls (and guys I suppose) should aim towards. Getting married young is common, and in some cases being married is seen as automatically having more maturity than single counterparts.

Quick side note before I plunge deeper into this thought; I am still firmly in the I think it would be great to find someone one day, but this post is not at all a reflection of feeling lonely or jealous of my married friends.

I know from personal experience, it is pretty frustrating to have someone who got married much younger than I am currently, try to offer encouragement in the form of “just be patient”. And, not so much because what they are saying is not true, but because they have not experienced the additional years of patience, and it can feel like they are entirely missing the feelings of desiring to find someone and being unable.

However, while we were talking the other night, we stumbled upon what I believe is the real (ok, maybe just a huge portion of the) struggle for girls (and maybe guys) as they get older and find themselves still single: The fear of missing out (fomo).

“What if I don’t get married until my mid-thirties and miss so many of the things my friends are getting to do now?”
“What if I am too old to have kids when I get married?”
“… I don’t want to miss the possible ten or more years that we could’ve spent together!”

It can definitely be hard at times to watch so many people get married young and have amazing love stories, being so happy and thankful for the person God has brought into their life… While you are still single, and in some cases single for many more years to come. Watching others have these experiences of building lives together, someone to adventure with, someone to support and encourage, families, children.. and of course someone to help you through difficult times… all while being told to be patient just feels like an insult at times. There is a very real fear of missing out on years of love, laughter, and support…

“IF I end up getting married, will I regret the years we didn’t have together?”
“IF I get married, will we be young enough to also have years and energy to enjoy each other’s company?”
“IF I do get married, will we be young enough to have the number of children I’ve always wanted?”

But, the fear goes deeper than just fear of missing out on being a 20-something with a spouse.. What if, by the time you do end up getting married, you still regret and mourn the lost years that you were single?

I do not know of many pastors or churches that even touch on these fears.

But, the reality is, both faith and hope in not just who God is, but how much He loves us, and how much our singleness (for however long we have it) bring Him glory.

I am by nature a more adventurous person, I enjoy seeing what could happen, traveling to far away places, or just sitting and talking with friends laughing until way too late into the night. And while one day, I would love to find a man, fall in love, and get married, that time is not now, and I do not regret my life so far. There have certainly been difficult seasons, and they would have been easier for sure with a partner, at the same time, I realize there are elements of things that I likely would not have learned… and would not be able to use to help someone else later.

So, in my experience, if you have a “young but older young single” person in your life, be gentle and wise in the way you encourage. For the love, do not quote Jeremiah 29:11 to them, instead take time to wade through the complicated maze that is their heart. Understand where the fears come from, and instead of offering trite quick bits of advice, take the time to share their journey with them… I have discovered that my struggle to traverse my singleness (alone) is much more satisfying when I feel like my situation is understood by someone else, I feel less alone when I am not given a quick “you just need to..” and instead, my heartaches, thoughts, fears, wondering, and desires are listened to and responded to with wisdom and insight.

Being single and fearing the potential loss of years of building a life together are real, but put in the right perspective that our God is a good God, He tenderly loves us, and looking back we will have the satisfaction that even Job experienced at the end of his (much more traumatic) journey.

Once You Become Parents We WANT You In Our Life…

I have been mulling over how I feel about the Huffington Post “Once We Become Parents We Don’t Want to Hang Out With You Anymore” for a little over a week now. Before we begin, you really will need to read the article to understand my thoughts below.

As a single person, the post is hurtful and rude.

First, let me start out by saying, I totally get that it is meant to be conveyed with somewhat of a sense of humor. I also understand that this is not the perspective of all married’s with children, nor is it directed at all single friends.

However, I am fairly frustrated with not just the post, but also how many of my friends circulated the article gladly touting that it conveyed their sentiments perfectly. All I could think was, “Sad day for our friendship.”

Humor or not, it is hurtful as someone on the other side essentially being told my friendship is not worthy of the extra effort or care needed.

Perhaps the sentiments in the article and by my friends loving it were meant to be directed towards young single friends always wanting to go out and play..
Maybe she has crappy single friends..
Maybe she is selfish (I do not know her so I really cannot speak to that)..
Maybe her friends are selfish (I know even less about her friends)..
Maybe she is frustrated..
Maybe a million and one things prompted her article…

Maybe my perspective is different from most because I am almost 30..
Maybe I don’t see the problem since the vast majority of my friends are married or married with children…
Maybe I find it hurtful since I am not single by choice…
Maybe I just have exceptional friends (which is actually probably the case)…

I have (of course) experienced the close friends who have gotten married, had kids, and disappeared… But, far more often, I have experienced that while friendships change, they stay just as meaningful and connected… just with more effort and a few adorable tag alongs.

You see, I am fully aware (but obviously not personally experienced) that children (especially babies) are work, and time-consuming.. and exhausting.

I also understand that life goes through seasons, it ebbs and flows, and I totally get that sometimes life just escapes us, and suddenly it has been three months… Life happens, no matter what stage of life you are in, it happens.

My frustration is the rude perspective she shares in her article. Not once did she seem to actually convey care for or about her single friends… or maybe they haven’t communicated their love and care for her, so her response actually seems justified in her own eyes…

Perpetually, the author makes comments that explain, complain, and belittle her single friends:
If we do see you outside of our typical schedule, particularly in the evening hours, take it as a huge compliment.”

Which, says to me, “I have blessed you with my presence. You’re welcome.”

Blessing me with your presence is not a friendship at all. I have no desire to be anyone’s charity case simply due to the fact that pre-children we used to be close friends. I desire friendship, with all the ups and downs and changing of the seasons. I want to help you, and know how to pray for you, or just offer a listening ear to your frustrations.

Apparently her friends have no desire to help:
We just can’t focus on you very well when we have to simultaneously keep an eye on our kids, making sure they don’t choke, drown in a randomly placed vat of water or get a head injury bumping into the pointy corner of a table.”

I don’t want your focus either if it means potential harm to your kids!.. What I do want is to live life as friends… even if I must also help keep an eye on your children. I would never dream of trying to gain your attention without also assisting with the children… I happily would spend time talking in a McDonald’s play place.. the park.. your living room, pushing your child in a stroller, taking my turn holding and feeding… I am totally game. Bring it on.

You see, part of my perspective comes from my exceptional friends that have children and still seek to have a friendship with me…

A friend of mine and her husband have four awesome children under five (or six.. I forget)… The middle two are even twins! I am constantly in awe of her. She not only tells me regularly how much she enjoys our friendship, misses me, or randomly sends me a hand drawn birthday card from one of her munchkins.. BUT, she invites me to come stay and hang out for a weekend.
I heart her and her whole family.
I heart snuggle time with her babies.
I heart getting to help her change diapers, fold clothes, cook dinner, and laugh at the ridiculousness that is the chaos of her life.
But, mostly I heart that she includes me and gives me the chance to help her and just be a part of her life.
I heart doing mundane with her… even if it means laughing while I do the dishes so she can chase down a child who has removed their diaper again, or folding clean diapers while she handles meltdowns.

I have another spectacular friend that makes it a point to call me while she drives or Facetime with me quietly while her baby cries herself to sleep. The twenty to thirty minute conversations make my day, and often my week!.. I will literally drop everything to talk to her every time she calls.
That same friend e-mails me random thoughts/responses/jokes/and ridiculousness from her day while she is at work.
In fact, we laugh that our friendship is one ongoing snail-paced conversation that never really ends or starts, but just continues with breaks (often days/weeks) in between.

And, still another friend has older children and is perpetually sitting at sports games or shuttling them places. We text, talk on the phone for a couple of minutes, and plan when we can hang out… Even if it means joining her in her errands, I love her, and her family, and cherish that I get to be a part.

You see, as selfish as it is, I desire friendship with kids in tow and all, no matter what it looks like. In fact, many of my friends with children have also been the ones who have encouraged me and supported me through some of the darkest and most painful seasons of my life… I do not know how I would have made it through without the friend calling me on Facetime on a particularly difficult day so that I could see and talk to her smiling baby girl.

Did you know baby giggles and snuggles can brighten anyones day?

So, when I hear that people “loved” this article, I find it hurtful. All that is conveyed is that because I do not have children, I am unworthy of the extra effort and friendship. It convey’s that I have nothing to offer you, and I am not considered a true friend, therefore I cannot be welcomed into your life…

Such a sad day for friendships.

Obviously since I am single, I know that my life looks vastly different, but one day I would love to be in your shoes… I would love to learn and find out what it looks like to have children, the chaos, messes, breakdowns, illnesses, and all.

The author says at the end: “Don’t give up on us — we’ll emerge and thrive again, once conditions are right.”

Sadly, life moves on, and if I am not important enough to actually be allowed to be friends with you now, I will move on and our friendship will have died “once conditions are right.”

The sad part is, I would gladly babysit (for free) so that my friends can get date nights (or weekends!) with their spouses. I am happy to come help, to encourage, to pray for you, to love on your children. If you maintain a friendship with me, I will better know how to show you love and care.. And selfishly, I need you and the munchkins in my life because I do not get to go home to a husband or children no matter how much I would love to.

So, to all of my friends that are also parents, don’t shut us out just because we don’t have mini-me’s running around. We singles need you, your friendship, your children, and the chaos that is your life in ours.

Single v. Married…

I have been watching an interesting debate discussion lately about the benefits of being Single or being Married.. Or getting married young.. Or staying single longer.. whatever.

It has felt recently as though there are two teams and they are at odds with each other. I think it is a little odd that we seem to be “fighting” or trying to convince others that our current state is the best or correct one.

Here are a few of the articles in the discussion so you can follow along with why I am writing this post:
23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23
The Results of a Closed-Minded 23 Year Old
I Got Married at 23. What Are the Rest of You Waiting For?
Marriage Isn’t For You
Why I Did I Get Married so Young

(There are more, and you possibly have read different ones)

The “conversation” as a whole really just interests me quite a bit. Obviously some of the blog posts are in direct response to one another, whereas others seem to be oblivious to the conversation at large, and are merely adding their thoughts to the world.

I also think it’s interesting that 23 is the number that keeps getting brought up.

Let me start out by saying, I am not loving on or hating on one side of this conversation or the other, merely responding to the conversation as a whole. I think it would be helpful to highlight some things.

Some background on myself so you can be more aware of where I am coming from:
I am a turning 29 years old, still single, never married or engaged woman.
I am not at all against marriage, and not only did I think early on in my life that I would be married by this point in life, I still would like to get married to the right man someday… But, I am content single, actually love aspects of it, and I am willing to wait for the right man because I have seen the destruction of divorce in too many people (of all ages).
I also have done quite a bit of reading of research on Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) because I find people and culture fascinating (especially my own).

Now that my vantage point is known, here is my personal perspective and thoughts on the Single v. Married conversation:

Not everyone who is single loves it.
Not everyone who is married loves it.

Not everyone who is single thinks they have made a better choice than getting married.
Not everyone who is married thinks they have made a better choice than to stay single.

Being single has some major pros and cons.
Being married has some major pros and cons.

Singleness can be hard.
Marriage can be hard.

Selfishness is pervasive among single people.
Selfishness is pervasive among married people.

Some people “do” single better than being married.
Some people “do” married better than being single.

In some cases staying single was the wise choice.
In some cases getting married was the wise choice.

Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of single people I know.
Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of married people I know.

Life is an adventure when you are single.
Life is an adventure when you are married.

Staying single is better/healthier than getting divorced.
Getting married is better/healthier than sleeping with someone you’re not married to.

Remaining single “late” into your adult life does not automatically mean you are wiser than a young married couple.
Getting married young does not automatically mean you are unwise or pathetic.

Being single “late” into your adult life does not mean you are against those married young (or older).
Being married young (or older) does not mean you are against those still single “late” into adult life.

Being single does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so to “get your life together”.
Being married does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so because you’ve “gotten you life together”.

Etc..etc.. See?

For me, there are days that singleness is just straight up hard, and other times I love the advantages of flying solo. But, from my plethora of friends (married at all ages), there are days that they remind me that being married is just hard too or they love every little bit of the married life…

From where I sit, both have the same qualities, it just depends on the person or couple.

My perspective is that regardless of if you are married or single, you should have goals.. Good goals ones, fun ones, hard ones, solid ones, frivolous ones, and seemingly impossible ones, I think that is how you help yourself grow, and a way to help measure success as a single or married person/couple.

So, please, let’s stop justifying why one is better than the other as if our choice was the right one for everyone… or the perfect decision forever.

If you are single and loving it or wish to be married, that is awesome and good things can and will happen during this season.
If you are married and loving it or wish you had waited, good things can and will happen during this stage of life.