Monday, May 31, 2010

SWF Seeks Church

Of all the struggles a single girl must face, most people wouldn’t think that finding a church would be one of them. However, when you take into consideration the fact that most churches are completely comprised of young families and older couples, it can start to feel like a quest for a Mommy and Me group rather than a place to worship.

I started filtering out churches based on the timing of their women’s bible studies. Many were held in the middle of the day when no single woman with any semblance of a career could attend. From there I tried out a few churches and most of their services centered around the family and coping with struggles in a marriage—not exactly something a 20 something girl without even a glimpse of marriage on the horizon can relate to. Thankfully I came across this points system to assist me in my search.

It’s not that the sole reason I attend a church is to be validated in my current life situation, but it would be nice to find someplace that can offer me some sort of spiritual guidance without subtly indicating that I went wrong somewhere along the way because I haven’t hitched myself to a nice man on the straight and narrow and started producing little miracles. Also, the spiritual needs of a single person are different from those in a family and it is necessary that a church be equipped to meet those needs just as readily as it meets the needs of its married parishioners.

I was grateful when I found the Urban Refuge. From the moment I walked in the doors I was thrilled with the atmosphere. The congregation was a mix of people from all walks of life including singles and families. I was greeted by an individual in the church who made sure that I felt welcome (but not in a creepy, cult-like kind of way, you know what I’m talking about). The sermons have been about improving our relationships with everyone in our lives as well as our relationships with God rather than our marriage relationships. I’ve only attended a couple times, but I think this church has found the balance that many haven’t even bothered to reach for.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

He Turns My Gray Skies Blue

This past week, I’ve come upon yet another completely obvious, but never-the-less important, requirement for my future Mr. Perfect. He needs to possess the inexplicable ability to transform my day regardless of where I’m at on the emotional spectrum. There are some people in my life who can completely turn my day around with a short conversation sprinkled with a few encouraging words. It’s not necessarily because they have brilliant advice to offer. They may not say anything more than a compassionate stranger would, but the level of trust and respect I have for them elevates their wisdom.

I’ve been amazed at how certain people can sponge out every negative thing I am feeling before I even realize what happened, even if they were the ones who caused the negativity in the first place. Very few of the men I’ve dated have been able to do this. It’s not for lack of trying. Most of my boyfriends have offered the obligatory supportive comments and a shoulder to cry on, but there were some things they just couldn’t fix. The fact is many of my friends have been able to cheer me better than any romantic interest I’ve had.

Perhaps it’s something that comes with the deeper understanding that develops after years of knowing someone and dealing with every up and down from one extreme to the other—bad hair cuts to untimely losses. Maybe it has nothing to do with the length of the relationship. Maybe it’s that the individuals who can successful lift my mood are those who genuinely care about me.

I think that might be one of the hardest things to find in a person, in friends or otherwise. By nature we are a selfish species and it’s rare to find that two-way street where both individuals care so much that that they are completely in-tune with each other’s needs.

As I mentioned before, I also think it has to do with the how much I respect the individual who is offering his (or her) support. For some reason a logical argument means so much more it comes from someone I admire. This is especially true when I struggle with issues in my career. When I get a vote of confidence from someone I view as successful it resonates much deeper than someone who doesn’t understand the meaning of drive and has no aspirations of their own.

So, as difficult as it may make my perpetual pseudo search for the ideal man, I sincerely hope I find someone who possesses the mysterious ability to turn even my grayest skies blue.

Note: I sincerely apologize for the cheese factor of this post.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Follow-up Question

This weekend, I had drinks with a friend of mine who has been single for much of her adult life. She is an attractive and caring woman who is completely satisfied without a boyfriend or a husband at the young age of 29. However, there are some people who seem genuinely upset by the fact that she isn’t involved with someone, including near strangers.

A couple weeks ago a married man at a party asked if she had a boyfriend, when she said “no,” he asked the follow-up question that seems to escape the mouths of some people before they pause to realize how ridiculous it sounds, “why?” Most of the time this inquiry carries either a hint of hostility or pity; the connotations are never good.

What kind of an answer do these inquisitive individuals expect to get? “I have a fear of commitment.” “I’m an emotional mine field.” “I’m actually certifiable.” “Why? Are you available?” More often than not the honest answer is as simple as “haven’t found anyone worth committing to” or “I’m happy alone.” Still these answers are often not acceptable to those who ask why. They seem trite and contrived, no matter how accurate they may be.

My big question is why does there need to be a why? When I find out people I meet are married I don’t feel compelled to ask why. I don’t ask parents why they chose to have kids or demand that individuals justify their career choices. I’m sure these people don’t expect a defensive response, but it never appears as a question that stems from genuine interest. To me, it gives the impression that there is something wrong with being single and therefore it requires some sort of justification.

I don't know what the right answer is, perhaps I should check out this book, which apparently has some quippy responses to this dreaded "why?" In the mean time, a simple "because I am," will have to do.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Not So Great Divide

I’m not sure if it’s that the fact that my most recent romantic experiments appear to be taking an unfavorable turn or that I’ve witnessed the demise of the relationships of a few close friends or something else entirely but I found myself on the train to bitter town a few days ago. I’ve since recovered but it got me thinking about the divide between singles and couples.

My single friends make snide, half-joking comments about happy couples from time to time. These snarky remarks become more frequent as the weather warms. Wedding season sets in and singles start to resent the happy couples who surround them.

This isn’t the case all the time, in fact, I think 99.99 percent of the time singles are happy for their coupled friends. It’s just when the public displays of sickening affection surface that we start to swat at the love birds fluttering around us. There are probably times when we are out of line, but seriously is it necessary to incessantly pepper every conversation with “babe”?

Anyway, I’m departing from my original pondering; do couples ever view their single friends with disdain? Do they think their solo pals wantonly flaunt their single status? Is it a grass is greener issue or is it completely one sided?

I don’t ever remember being the slightest bit jealous of my single friends when I was in a relationship, but I think I actually might be if I were tied down now. I also have married friends who openly admit they wish they were in my shoes on occasion. It’s not that they aren’t happy in their marriage, it just comes with responsibilities. Just as I’m thrilled with my life right now; it just comes with the incidental hints loneliness. (All the world’s a stock market and the men and women merely traders, sorry bad joke.)

Perhaps these occasional feelings of bitterness aren’t about love and loneliness but more a situation of wanting something just because we don’t have it. At any rate I am thrilled that many of my friends have found individuals who make them happy and do harbor hope that it will happen for me someday (even if I don’t necessarily want it to happen soon). I’ve come to realize that my weaker, woe-is-me moments are normal (right???) and will pass as unexpectedly as they come.