November 30, 2009

Don't You Have Lots of Free Time?

Years ago, one of my single friends overheard a conversation between a former staff member and an older church member. The staff member was recruiting volunteers for an annual event and the older woman said words to the effect, "Make the singles do it. They don't do anything."

Excuse me?

This older woman had no idea what "the singles" were doing. If she had looked, she would have seen us in the choir, in the orchestra, in children's Sunday school classes and working in countless other ways around our church.

And, oh yeah, we have lives.

A few years later, I was in a meeting with other leaders from the single adult ministry, and a representative of the youngest single adult class repeatedly implied that the rest of us were "sedentary."

Excuse me?

This younger woman had no idea what the "older" (30+) single adults were doing. If she had looked, she would have seen us on mission trips, working at the food bank, leading adult Bible studies, Preschool worship, and children's choirs.

And, oh yeah, we have lives.

My friend in the first example has a servant's heart. But the implication that "singles don't do anything" irritated him to the point he started thinking about all that he did. He began to think about all of the things singles have to do for ourselves - aside from all of the areas where we serve within the church or the community. He pointed out that there are no gender roles for single adults - we do it all:
  • Laundry
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cook
  • Clean the dishes
  • Deal with the trash
  • Housework
  • Yardwork
  • Car repairs
  • Pay bills
  • Drop off / pick up dry cleaning
  • Home repairs and upkeep
  • Shop for birthday and special gifts
  • Wrap the gifts
  • Buy cards for every occasion
  • Take care of pets
  • Work fulltime - often more than one job
  • Volunteer
  • Entertain...when we can find the time and when the house is reasonably clean
  • And on, and on...
You get the point. No wife, no husband, just one person to do it all, and still try to leave the time and energy to maintain relationships with family and friends. 

When the holidays come, pressure is added. We still have to do all the things that we do the rest of the year, but add all of the extra things that are squeezed into the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We look at the calendar and wonder how we'll get it all done. There are years when I never find the time to put my tree up. Last year I got as far as putting my (mercifully pre-lit) tree in my living room, but never decorated it. (Now you know why I used to look forward to spending Thanksgiving alone.)

Having said all of that, it's tempting to say "Sorry, my plate is full" when asked to squeeze in one more thing each December. I want to say, "Thanks, but no thanks, December is just for me this year," or at the very least, I dream of having the time to nestle all snug in my bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.

But I always relent, because I know that St. Francis of Assisi was right, that "it is in giving that we receive."

It doesn't matter if you're married or single, you are blessed when you bless others. Decorating the tree can wait. Allow God to use you this holiday season...because it's not about you.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48b


  1. well said!

    do you have time to decorate my tree? jk!

  2. Yeah, sure. As soon as I get my baking done. =)

    I will decorate my tree this weekend. I will decorate my tree this weekend. Right after Parents Night Out on Friday and a wedding on Saturday.

    I hope to decorate my tree this weekend. I hope to decorate my tree this weekend.