Be they family, friends, or folks at church, singles often have to suffer through the slings and arrows of well-intentioned though insensitive, intrusive, and commentary that was rarely asked for. “By the time I was your age …”(a personal favorite of my mom’s), “Trust God to meet all your needs,” “Stop looking and the right one will show up,” “God is Sovereign,” “God is teaching you patience,” “You need to learn contentment,” “Why aren’t you married yet?” (complete with slightly disapproving or pitying tone), “Concentrate on being the right spouse,” “God is your spouse” (which reminds me of the book of a myspace friend: “If God is My Husband, Why is My Bed so Cold?). With answer like these, I hope I don’t face any real tragedies. Well intentioned or not, cliches are not enough.

The questions never stop, by the way, they only change: If you are dating, you get asked “when are you getting married?” If you are married, you get asked “when are you having kids?” As an aside, I was only ever asked this one and a half times. The first time I was asked this, I announced to the crowd of interested friends, family, and fellow church attendees, which page of the Kama Sutra me and my new bride was working on. The “half” time I was asked happened when my friend was asked this question. Now, she was sitting right next to me – and had actually just found out she was pregnant – but was asked by someone she barely knew. So I asked if I could answer the question for her. She gave me the nod. So I went on a several minute harangue about their heartache of trying and trying to get pregnant with no success. And how every time the question is asked, it was like the wound being re-opened. But otherwise, thanks for asking.

It’s a function of how the church and society generally treats singles: like they are modern day lepers, a conditioned that has to be suffered through as they make their way to the Promised Land that is marriage. After all, singles can’t be whole unto themselves, they can’t be experience the fullness of life without a spouse, or, heaven forfend, children. There is a mentality within our society, a cultural mindset within the church, such that they see singleness as a problem to be fixed, a condition to be endured, mostly stemming from the fact that they have made family into an idol.

There are nuggets of truth within the comments of our well-meaning family, however, they are often like band-aids put on the gaping wounds of pain that singles often wrestle with. As if singles haven’t thought about why they are alone, why they hurt so much, why no one has deemed them “worthy” enough to ask to spend the rest of their lives with them (and don’t get me started on that “marriage is a prize of life” mentality). These commentators don’t realize how hurtful or downright insulting they are being.

Singleness has its own blessings and joys as well as frustrations and pain. I understand where the platitudes tend to come from. They see their single loved one in pain, unfulfilled, discontent and want to offer some consoling words. However, like with any kind of pain, maybe it’s better to be silent and simply come along side those in pain and be with them.

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