Today is the second guest post in hopefully a tradition here at Nothing Is Strange of guest posts by my wonderful readers. I met writer Liz Maurer less than a year ago, but it feels like we’ve been friends for ages. She’s an education major who is going to change the world for the better from the inside of schools. She’s incredibly smart, caring, selfless, and kind of a coffee addict at times (but who isn’t, really?). I wish I had her barista skills.
If freshman year Liz met Liz as I am today, a senior preparing for graduation and the real world, I think she’d find that I’m not who she expected me to be (I hope she’s okay that I cut off 12” of her hair). In fact, I know I am vastly different than she expected me to be. And that’s not only okay, that’s fantastic.
One of the first things she would do upon our meeting would be to subtly flick her eyes to my left hand. “No, I’m not engaged,” I would say as she takes in the ring-less fourth finger. “In fact I haven’t had a boyfriend since I was you.”
She would be disappointed. No, I’m not guessing, I know her. She’s disappointed. But I’m not.
Some days are hard, I’ll admit that. I find myself often caught in this tension that the Christian world is trying to figure out; a tension between “don’t come to college for your ‘M.R.S. degree because that’s a waste of tuition dollars” and “Oh you’re still single? How? Well I know this really cute single guy…” Because sometimes God’s perfect timing for young Christians just needs a little shove in the right direction by well-meaning others. And they are well meaning and I promise that, even if you ask me again if I have a boyfriend or tell me another time about the man God has for me, I won’t throw my Thanksgiving mashed potatoes as you.
But I think the Christian community very often overlooks the most valuable asset they have for both single and married people. Freshman year Liz had been led to believe that if she did not have a fiancée by senior year she would be alone forever. But I’m not alone. Even when all three girls I lived with had their boyfriends constantly in the apartment, I usually didn’t feel my singleness too acutely. And no, I’m not talking about “Jesus is my boyfriend” because that… well that’s a whole different rant.
I’m talking about the community God has placed around me. A boyfriend/ fiancée/ husband cannot ever fill all the roles I have had filled in my life. I would love it if my someday husband would talk Broadway musicals with me, but if not, I’ve got some of my best friends who I can cry over Les Miserables with. I know he could never have replaced the moments I’ve had with the girls I’ve lived with, from the moments they’ve walked in and I’m standing on the chair trying to write a novel to 3am discussions filled with both tears and laughter. I would have loved a boyfriend to hold my hand through the troubles that plagued my sophomore year, but I had various other hands that reached out and grabbed mine, refusing to let me be alone.
The Church does a really good job at celebrating marriage, which is good and really important, but I don’t think they do as good of a job at celebrating community. I think they’re trying to celebrate singleness, but it is harder for a lot of them, mostly because most people in the church structure are married. Whatever the reason, many times I am defined in the Church as the ring-less fourth finger on my left hand. But that is not all I am and we need to stop making our young men and women feel as if a spouse is the only important person in their life. Because I have so many important people in my life and, though someday I hope there will be a man to fill the role of ultimate best friend, the most important person can’t be the only important person.
So let’s keep celebrating the joy of marriage and begin to celebrate better the joy of the community which God has placed all of us, single or married, in. Because that community is essential to everyone and, in my humble opinion, gives us a glimpse of Heaven in a way that even marriage doesn’t. So let’s rejoice.