I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a lot of frustrated singles out there. And the Christian ones seem more frustrated than most. You see it in the open letters and thoughtful explanations offered by plaintive unmarrieds, asking the world at large, “Please stop asking me why I’m single/when I’m going to get married!”
My heart throbs in empathy when I read these pieces. No matter how many times I’ve answered that question, people never stop asking it. The same people. Like taxes or car registration, it seemingly has to be renewed every so often.
Sometimes I’ll toy with turning the question back on the questioner: “How can you still be married?” But that’s mean; most of these questioners are kindly people, worth more to me than a moment’s snarky relief.
Nevertheless, I’m tired of being put on the defensive.
So I’m taking a cue from Jesus, and from cool criminals like George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven.
In the U.S., we call it pleading the 5th.
It means you just don’t talk.
When Jesus faced a barrage of loaded questions at His trial, even from Rome’s own representative, “He did not open his mouth.”
Why did He stay silent?
Because He knew the deck was stacked against Him. These weren’t genuine inquiries — these were questions meant to rattle Him, compromise Him, manipulate him into backing down from the stand He had taken throughout His ministry.
OK, I’m not saying that the folks who ask about my singleness are trying to break me.
I’m just saying that for the ones who constantly ask, there’s no answer I can give that will satisfy.
I’ve realized that for every blissfully married questioner who just wants the same bliss for me, there’s another questioner who ended their singleness because they thought it was the key to happiness. And while they’d probably never admit it, what they really want to know is how I get through singleness — the loneliness, the outsider-status, the wrestling with that “Will I ever?” question — because they couldn’t. And now they’re afraid that maybe they’ve settled.
There are a lot of reasons why I’m single. Some of them I know; a lot of them, I don’t. I’m OK with it, or not OK with it, depending on my mood and the weather and how much coffee I’ve had to drink.
But constantly re-examining my stand on the matter, whether through talking about it or writing about it, doesn’t help anybody — least of all me. It’s frustrating, it’s grieving, it makes me feel lonely. I get plenty of those feelings on Valentine’s Day, thank you very much.
Instead, I’m going to take a line from Jesus’ book, and not open my mouth, except with God and the people that I know care for me.
Flickr cc photo by Will Folsom