© 2010 David’s Harp and Pen
Hello. My name is Margaret. Those that prefer to do so may call me Maggie. My friends call me Mags. My enemies call me things not fit to print in a Christian novel. I am here to give voice to an overworked, under-loved, under-understood, and under-appreciated segment of society: the single Christian woman. Someone has to stick up for her, because the pressure she faces is enormous. Here’s the thing: when one bears the name Christ-follower, one is told, at least subliminally, that one should have it all together, right? And part of that is setting the example of matrimony, being fruitful and multiplying, yadda, yadda, yadda.
“You’re not getting younger,” they’ll say.
“Genesis says it’s not good for man to live alone.” Well, that’s man. I’m woman. I hope that most people could tell the difference. But the stigma is unavoidable—if the Christian woman is not domestarian extraordinaire, married, and mother of the next legion of future missionaries, she’s in sin, and that’s all there is to it.
When a single woman gets to be in her 30s like me, her church friends get more and more anxious to see her hitched. It’s like the entire survival of mankind depends on her having kids before she’s old enough to join AARP. How often they forget that the majority of famous Biblical moms didn’t have kids ‘til well into their 90’s. Besides, I hear that geriatric fertility clinics are all the rage these days.
So what do I do when a well-meaning friend starts to make unkind remarks about my biological clock and the dangers of being out of the very will of God? I run as fast as I possibly can. There’s absolutely no reasoning with the ones that are really pushy about it. Now, it would be kind of touching if it weren’t so insulting. As if it’s my fault there’s a man shortage. As if it’s my fault I have standards. As if it’s my fault that there’s a very good reason why certain people (not me) are in their 30s and still single. But no. They say I’m running from love (dodging bullets is more like it). They say I’m too picky; that no one is perfect, and that if he’s got problems, I can always change him. Tell me, why is it always up to the woman to do the change in a man, especially in Christian circles? Is it terribly selfish or unrealistic to want a man to change me instead?
But the Christian yentas persist. They repeat it’s not good for man to live alone and he who finds a wife finds a good thing ‘til I hear it in my sleep. (No disrespect to the Bible, but does it seem in most of these verses it’s the dude who gets the better end of the deal? Besides, I’m not looking for a wife, anyway.) What starts out as polite dissent on my part becomes, for the sake of self-preservation, biting sarcasm, and I end up making enemies when I reply, “Well, it does say those things in the OLD Testament, ‘old’ being the key word here. However, being a New Covenant kinda chick, I must heed the Apostle Paul’s exhortation that it is better not to marry, unless of course you’re burning with passion. Now, if you look in the original Greek, which you probably don’t, but I do all the time, that ‘burning with passion’ literally means overcome with desire. In other words, horney, that because of my close, intimate relationship with Jesus, is definitely not a problem. I’m so sorry you lost the whole battle with lust, though. I’ll pray for you about that.”
Sometimes, if that doesn’t get them off my back, I must, like David did when he tried to hide out in Moab while on the run from Saul, feign lunacy.
“You know, I’d love to get married some day, but God said I have to wait ‘til I finish my shock therapy.”
Let’s face it, though. Christendom at large is no help. Has anyone ever read any of those Christian Harlequin-type romance novels? The heroines are usually one-dimensional, beautiful, perfect housekeepers, never accidentally say the wrong thing to members of the opposite sex, devoid of any kind of insecurity, and, oh yeah, under 30. While some of them will start out in the beginning of the story by saying they’re not gonna look for love but will just concentrate on God, well, that usually lasts about 3.2 microseconds before some dashing, perfect, emotionally healthy single guy comes along who looks like Brad Pitt and prays like Billy Graham, who the heroine will initially resist (why? I have no idea, except maybe the heroine is also operating under the false assumption that that guy can’t be the right one unless she has to ‘change’ him in some form or fashion), only to eventually be swept off her feet, and carried by her knight in shining armor on a white horse into the sunset off to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Well, if my love life were made into a novel, it would read something like Jules Verne or maybe Kurt Vonnegut. Truth is, I’m not the average female. I’m 35 years old, and it’s been, by most people’s standards, eons since I dated anyone or even liked someone enough to let them take me to their high school reunion in order to make the cheerleader they had a crush on back then jealous (I feel so used…ugh!). The truth really is, I’m a bit of a tomboy, and because of the spiritual sounding, but completely unrealistic, bally-who shoved down my throat at women’s retreats since I was a teenager, I just kinda resigned myself to the fact that love for me was confined solely to the few romantic comedies I felt the slightest affinity for, like “While You Were Sleeping.” I’d be the best friend or the comic relief in those stories, but never the star.
I’m told it’s supposed to work like this: Girl goes to church. Girl meets nice boy in church. Boy tells girl plainly and simply that he likes her. Girl parades boy and relationship around to various elders in the church and gets their approval. After acceptable courtship period, Christian boy goes to Christian father of girl to get his permission for her hand in marriage. Let the Earth rejoice! They go through pre-marital counseling under the watchful eye of everyone and their brother, and then six months later, they marry, and begin to write their own chapter of “Ozzie and Harriet Go to Church.” Well, for reasons I’ll get into later, I was disqualified for that gig before I even got a chance to get started. Now that I’ve reached my mid 30s, I’ve resigned myself to think that love is for other people, and besides, they’d always need people like me to work in the nursery or kids’ church, right?
Before I go any further, I don’t wanna seem like I’m knocking the people who do go by the book and find love like the majority of other Christians, but despite my what will become glaringly apparent insecurities concerning my appeal to the opposite sex, there was always a part of me that wanted something different. Something special. Something movie worthy. Does anyone out there remember those times when discouragement loomed like a bad toupee, and someone would say, “Don’t you know that God could bring you someone special? Someone from halfway around the world, just to prove how much He loves you?” That’s a nice thought in theory, and even encouraging at 25, but once 35 rolls around, instead of holding my breath, I’m signing up 5 years in advance for the diaper brigade on Sunday mornings so I can forget how lonely I really am and how undesirable I really feel.
Well, it turns out my story was movie worthy after all, and the whole thing centers on the ever so lovely continent of Ireland.