Where do I fit?
This is a question that I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I’m sure most people have asked themselves this question at some point in life, but this has been a question plaguing me for the past couple of years. While I’ve tried to push that question out of my mind, it’s always been there, hovering in the back like a ghost.
Some people might attribute my questioning where I fit to the confusing state of the world, the fact that I’ve been confined to my home (for the most part) for months, or just that I’m getting older and people naturally question their purpose as they look back and reflect on life. While some of those factors may be at play, I’m more inclined to say that it’s a question that has always been bubbling just below the surface, but since I’ve had more time to reflect on my own, I’ve discovered that I feel like I don’t really have a place where I just “fit” in regard to my singleness.
Yes, I have friends, whom I love and adore and I feel like we get along, but most of my friends are married with kids, in committed dating relationships or single, but younger than me by several years. I feel like an outlier who can’t fully engage in conversations about raising kids or give dating advice because I have no idea how to do either of those things. I also feel petty bringing my singleness burdens to my married friends because they just can’t understand my struggle when they got married at a young age and they also have so much on their plates already.
Yes, my family loves me and I love them, but we have very different views on many things and my sister and I are definitely the black sheep of the family. I don’t feel like I can bring my concerns to my parents because they’ve heard me complain about it so many times over the years that I know they’re tired of hearing about it. And the rest of my family just thinks that I’m weird because I’ve never really dated. How could someone just not date, when the meaning of life is to marry and bear children?
Yes, I have a church community, but this is where I’m starting to really feel like a very square peg trying to wedge myself into a very round hole so that I can feel like I fit somewhere. While you can wedge a square peg into a round hole, the peg will feel pressure from all sides and it might fit for a while, but eventually the peg will have to deal with the fact that it just doesn’t fit in.This is what I’ll be discussing today… feeling like you don’t fit in at church, a struggle all too close to the hearts of many single Christians.
When I first accepted Jesus, I had discovered a new way of life. The feeling of freedom and true love. I didn’t have to be afraid of dying because Jesus made the way so there would never be anything between me and my relationship with God. For this, I am eternally grateful. I know that God loves me. I know that I am His beloved daughter and I cannot wait to get to be with Him one day in heaven. While I’m here on earth, however, it’s harder to not feel the pangs of loneliness from time to time. While the loneliness most often associated with singleness refers to romantic relationships, singles often feel lonely in other ways as well. The loneliness I’ve been feeling has more to do with just feeling like you are the only one who understands a given situation.
It’s difficult for married people to understand what it’s like to be single. Yes, married people were, at one point in the past, single, but in my experience married people too often forget what that felt like. They get caught up in their married lives, raising their children, and attending marriage retreats and conferences in an effort to keep their marriage centered. Those are not bad things by any means, but it’s difficult to get advice on singleness and struggling within that singleness as a 35 year old from someone who got married at 23. The trouble is when the church is full of married people, they tend to have a blind spot for those who aren’t like them and single people (and their struggles) tend to fall by the wayside.
Singleness has been a big part of my identity for my entire adult life. I can hear what many people say…” but your identity should be in Christ!” To which I say…. if someone identified that being a mother or a husband was a big part of their identity, most people would not dream of countering those thoughts with “but your identity should be in Christ!”
My identity very much IS in Christ, but there are many facets to who I am as a person. I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m a friend, I’m an occupational therapist, I’m a dog mom, I’m an American, and I’m a single. None of these other descriptors take away who I AM in Christ, they are additions to who I am and they are what make me, well, me.
The issue that I’m having is finding a place where I can be myself within the body of Christ. While I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, most churches have dedicated programs for marriage counseling, marriage retreats, small groups for married couples/ newly marrieds/ engaged couples. Most churches have a thriving children’s ministry that meets children where they are to help them come to know and accept the love of Christ. Most churches have women’s groups, usually geared toward mom’s and housewives.
Some churches have women’s groups that are just for women of “all ages and stages,” however what I’ve discovered is that these groups are full of moms and married women who frequently discuss the difficulties of married life and raising children. When it comes my turn to contribute, I have little to say because when I say that I’m not married, I’m usually met with “oh, well that’s ok.” As though my being single would somehow be something other than “ok.” I feel silly bringing prayer requests for dating or struggles with my singleness to a group that can’t relate with those trials and it’s embarrassing to discuss the trials of singleness with people who passed that life stage ages ago. Also, it’s nearly impossible to discuss any kind of struggle with “desire” because you’re usually met with “just don’t have desires” or “get married if you have desires” as though that were something you can just turn off until the proper moment arises and nobody ever addresses how to shut down desire until you can get married.
So when you aren’t a child/teenager, you aren’t married, and you’re not a mom, where do you fit within God’s community on earth? While I have no doubt that God loves me and that I’m truly not alone in my struggle (since He is always present in my life), I still feel like a square peg trying to find a square hole here on earth. So until I get the chance to sit with God in heaven, where do I fit? Where can a single person learn and grow and struggle well with proper support within God’s family without being reminded that they aren’t married and led to feel like they are somehow not fulfilling their worth as a person because they haven’t been attached to another person and born a tiny human? While I don’t have the answer, I’ve been praying to God that He will help to guide me to a place where I can flourish in my singleness and I pray He will help those of you who are struggling to find your “fit” too.