Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Celebrating One As A Whole Number

Debra Farrington, author of “One Like Jesus, Conversations on the Single Life,” writes, “Churches have unconsciously bought into the belief that being single is being miserable. They might pat singles’ heads and say it’s okay, but they don’t really believe that.”

Farrington notes, for example, that some churches call their 20s and 30s groups “pairs and spares,” as if people who weren’t married were left overs.

I’ve long held the belief that the best preparation for married life is to first learn to live joyfully and well without being married. In other words, to first become “One like Jesus”, or like a St. Francis or a Mother Teresa.

That may sound idealistic, even impossible, but isn’t there something wrong if we can’t be a happy or whole person without being married, as good a state as that may be for most?

I suggest we encourage our young to make their decisions about who, when or even whether they choose someone as their “soul-mate-for-life” from a position of already having a bucketful of happiness. That way they won't be bringing their half-empty buckets to a relationship hoping someone else can fill it. And then resenting them for failing to fully do so.

Not that any of us can go it alone. Each of us, married or single, need a strong and nurturing network of support, good people in nurturing congregations with whom we can share good times and bad, whether single or married.

Sister Fannie Mae, with my father, Ben, after my mother's death
One of my older sisters, Fannie Mae, who was never married, became a volunteer registered nurse and midwife who operated a clinic in Belize for ten years and later one in Paraguay for another decade. In both places she made a positive difference in  the lives of hundreds of families in underserved areas. She will always be one of my admired heroes, in many ways having accomplishing more than any of us.
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