Stop Being Rude to Single People

So it’s like this. Living as a single person in a tightly-knit religious community is a total suck-fest. Our loving, supportive, tightly-knit Mennonite communities are beneficial only if you (1) have close family in the area, or (2) are married. If you lack either of these qualifications, or worse, lack BOTH, watch out for rude, thoughtless comments. My single friends and I frequently lament these comments, and I’m tired of my friends suffering in silence, so I give you this post: “CHURCH! Stop being rude to single people!” If you know a family-less, single person in your community, please read on so that you can learn how to stop being rude to single people!

1. You are rude when you don’t invite us over.
Thursday I ask you, married person, to hang out and you can’t because you have plans. Friday I see pictures all over Instagram of you and two other mutual-friend married couples from church.

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Hello! You seriously think we don’t find out when you throw fun married-people parties and don’t invite us? Don’t assume that just because you are married that we don’t want to hang out with you. Do you assume that we wouldn’t want to come because we might feel like a 3rd wheel? Don’t assume for us! We’re pretty good at deciding if we’ll feel awkward or not, and we’ll decline the invitation if necessary.

On the other hand…

2. You are rude when you invite us over.
It goes something like this: “Hello, we’re having over Herbert Boring and Jared Icky. We thought you would like to come too.” We, remembering last time’s invitation where we spent our time trying to entertain Creepy Dog and Weird Uncle, suddenly remember that we are QUITE busy.
Hello, people! We have feelings, too! Just because you are hosts and are obligated to invite all the social misfits doesn’t mean that we single people need to do your hospitality for you! We do not simply exist to fill an extra space at your 14-person capacity solid oak dining room table. Invite someone else who you think we would get along well with!

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Why can’t you see that there is something so wrong about this?

And, just so you know, we single people WILL avoid social suicide. If we deflect your invitation, I mean, okay, there’s a tiny margin of a possibility that we actually DID have a previous social engagement (though not extremely likely because we’re totally “never busy,” ha ha), but it could also be a serious indicator that there was something really uncomfortable or especially undesirable about the invitation.

3. You are rude when you assume that we aren’t busy people.
My friends and I have been in so many conversations where we get the feeling that you think that single people have absolutely nothing to do and have all the time in the world. Let’s think about that for a second.

You know that person, called a spouse, who you split housework 50/50 with? Everything from yard work, to changing oil, to fixing shower heads, to frying bacon, to scrubbing toilets, to folding laundry? Okay, imagine NOT HAVING that person to split the housework with (not to mention paying bills), and then add on top of that a full-time job. … … … It would be like your husband living by himself and having to keep up with all the housework, too.

(Some of you will raise your hands, objecting here, and say, “But, children!” You’re right, I know that’s an incredible responsibility, but again, you probably still have a spouse to share that and other household responsibilities with.)

A tiny tangent here is the single teacher. One way to infuriate single teachers is to act like we aren’t busy in summer and to ask if we teachers will be getting “summer jobs.” ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME. This question reveals so much ignorance, all of which is addressed here, but if you’re the type of person who has rules about clicking links on blogs, I will sum things up for you: I’ve spent the last 9 months working 12 hours a days, 6 days a week at school. Do you not even think I need a break. I’m physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I need to rest, and when I am not resting, I will be spending my time this summer researching how to be a better teacher. Yet, in our work-driven Mennonite communities, I’m seen as lazy for not getting a job at a coffee shop and instead trying to be better at my career. I’m SO AMUSED by Mennonites who have absolutely no concept of rest or even career development.

4. You are rude when you get snobby about our (lack of) cooking.
Can I just say that it is really tricky cooking for one person? Also, we’re still working on building up our own huge mother-lode of pantry ingredients. (It’s not like we get grocery showers or Tupperware parties like young marrieds do when they move out. But that’s another story.) Ingredients are expensive, and sometimes we’re just trying to make ends meet. So we make do.

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But, kind of along with #3, some people assume we have all the time in the world to spend making amazing pinterest-inspired meals. Now, some single people have all their ducks in a row and continually inspire us with Instagrammed crock-pot amazingness (I hate you, I’m hungry, let’s be frieeeeends), but some of us are really invested in our jobs and careers, and we don’t have a ton of time to cook, especially with the whole keeping up a household thing.

Anyway, please don’t turn up your nose at us if we don’t pull out our inner Betty Crocker for every single gastro-event.

Recently, one of my hardworking nurse friends boldly deposited a “bought” cake from Kroger at a Mennonite church potluck (gasp), and I think the unsaid comments were as obvious as the spoken ones. She’s strong enough that it doesn’t bother her, but it irritates me that church people had to make such a big deal about her cake. It’s not like she just got off a 12 hour shift of changing the world or anything! Don’t be rude because you are jealous that she has the guts to eat/bring things that aren’t always homemade.

5. You are rude when you assume that we aren’t as spiritual as married people.
Can I get an Amen here! Since when is a married 20 year old kid more spiritual and more qualified than a 30 year old single guy at church? What about marriage makes someone more spiritual? Why is it that married people are elected to lead in devotions on Sunday morning, but very capable single people are overlooked? I’ve never understood this.

Stop overlooking single people and instead ask them to serve on committees at church. Single people have many skills, talents, and abilities. The church NEEDS their perspective in leadership positions. So elect them! Stop asking them to be in charge of Vacation Bible School games. Start asking them instead to teach Sunday School, or even serve as a deacon or elder!

Because Paul the Apostle was single. And so was Jesus. And I’m pretty sure they were spiritual.

6. You are rude when you assume and don’t ask first.
We single people actually have lives and schedules, but many married people, especially ones with children seem to think they are so much busier than we are and that we can drop our own schedules at the drop of a hat.

I have this married friend who every time I tell her that I have a break from school coming up she asks “What will you even DO in your house by yourself in your time off?!” LADY. I will probably do what you do every day, which is enjoy a luxury day at home, that will consist of cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Housework doesn’t stop just because I don’t have kids or a husband.

But my married friend doesn’t seem to understand this and proceeds to invite me over to help her do her housework.

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Moms, you are incredible, and sometimes we single people really want to be with you and your kids. But sometimes we don’t. Respect that.

7. You are rude when you don’t include us on holidays.
It’s Thanksgiving Day, and someone asks us AT CHURCH if we have plans. A little forethought would go a long way. We out-of-town singles have been agonizing for weeks about how we will deal with being alone on this holiday, away from family, and you just let us worry this whole time before inviting us, last-minute, the DAY OF?! Let’s talk about how to properly invite a single person to a major holiday.

If it’s close to a holiday, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, invite us by asking if we already have plans. Having to admit that we have no plans makes us feel really lame and like we don’t have any friends. Some single people I know feel really insecure about admitting that they don’t have plans. It makes us feel needy and like we have to accept something from you. Nobody likes to feel needy. Or, worse, you weren’t even planning to invite us anyway, but were just asking to be polite, but now just everyone feels awkward. (So, don’t ask the question unless you are ready to include us.)

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A much better way to word a holiday invitation is to ask, plenty of time in advance: “Hi, we’re having turkey and stuffing on Thursday, and Fred Funnyjokes and Candy Coolcousin are coming over, and we were really hoping that you could be there, too.” And leave it right there. Do not ask if we have plans. It’s really none of your business, and if we want to tell you our plans, we will. But, maybe we have plans that we plan on canceling in order to come to your house. Seriously, we single people sometimes have these little agreements with extremely supportive older church people that we are always welcome at their homes unless we get a better invitation, like, one where we could meet other single people, hee hee hee, if you know what I mean, and we really wouldn’t explain that to YOU now, would we?

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8. You are rude when you stand us up.
We made plans with you. We respected your busy schedule and used forethought to plan a time to hang out with you. Married person, we care about you, and we want to be your friend. So we made plans in advance. We programmed it into our phones, and we put it on our calendars.

And you stood us up. You’ll be hanging out with your spouse, but do you do realize that when we are stood up that we will be left at home alone, right? With some leftover cheeseball and a really lame movie on Netflix.

Be responsible. Stick to your word. Either plan to hang out, or tell us you’re too busy. I’m sick and tired of sticking up for you when you ditch our plans… when you get too tired or you decide that you’re just going to stay home with your husband and “go to bed early.” (Riiiiiight.)

Look, married people, we can make this work. How badly do you want to be friends?

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Married people, married people with kids, families in church: do you realize that you’re not the minority here? Family-less single people are the minority. My friends could really do with some lovin’. Like seriously, we can’t even remember the last time someone hugged us or touched us. And it’s really hard.

Church: go hug a single person. And stop being rude.

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108 thoughts on “Stop Being Rude to Single People”

  1. Great post and reading this makes me love my church even more – I’m single and I’m an adult women’s Sunday School teacher, some people bring bought food to potlucks and it’s okay, and it’s also okay for us singles to come and not bring anything at all, many recognize that I’m as busy or busier than them, and I get hugs from multiple women every single Sunday. As far as invitations I get them, though I’d be happy with a lot more and my family is my Sunday dinner back up plan. My church people are learning that it’s okay to invite me even if no other singles are coming.

      1. oh, they are not perfect – but this piece helped me see how good I really have it. sometimes I need a reminder.

    1. Your church sounds a lot like my church too. We have a lot of 4 generation families but then we have lots of singles as we are a in a university town. We have lots of good cooks but we also have plenty of chips and dips and Rippin’ Good cookies when it comes time to potlucks. It all gets eaten. The head of our Missions committee and our Music committee are both single women, our Youth Pastor is single, one of our school secretaries is single, along with all the singles that happen due to divorce or being widowed.

  2. Esther, I’m trying to figure out what you’ve left out, but honestly, you’ve covered a lot of the good ones. This was such a vindicating read. I don’t know if the voice of this felt risky because of its honesty. I enjoyed it so much and feel understood.

  3. I followed a link on Facebook. I always like to see what other singles say about life. 🙂 You had me chuckling! I’m from a small Mennonite church not in Mennonite-ville so thankfully there are lot of these that our church does well with. I highly admire teachers and I know that they give more of themselves than most people ever know.

      1. I agree, MaryLou, where would we be without teachers? Both of my parents and 3 of my brothers were/are teachers and 5 our of 7 of my father’s brothers are now retired teachers. I’m a school librarian. Thanks for being a teacher, Esther!

  4. Good words 🙂 sometimes its like married people live on a different planet….thankful for my handful of besties that get it 🙂

  5. Great read, thanks! I am a happily married guy, and I appreciate the perspective! The only caveat I would have to add is it will blow your mind how busy kids will make your life. For you it’s like how people see teachers, and say “you only work x amount of days a year, and get lots of breaks”, etc, etc. People can’t truly understand till they experience teaching and parenthood. My wife is a teacher as well, and we have 4 kids ages 8 and below. On Saturday alone I swept the kitchen floor and cleaned the counter 5 times after activities, meals, etc, and it was still a mess at the end of the day! Things in our house become cluttered and disorganised within minutes of us cleaning it. Great article, and I appreciated the insight! I say all that not to contradict you, but to honor my wife and her tireless work, and all moms. One day you’ll be a mom and you’ll say “wow… I had no idea…”

    1. I feel compelled to comment on this…totally appreciate that you can bear your heart on this subject. I nod my head in agreement to most of what is said. I have a large variety of friends including a lot of single girlfriends around the globe. I view them as no different than myself- dealing with struggles, etc. And we have an open communication- me venting my frustrations, and Miss Single her’s. I am going on a road trip in a couple weeks, just her and I. And my husband and her have a great relationship also. One comment- Don’t be rude to married folks/parents…we have many things that you as a single are not faced with…it is a two way street. We each have our battles. We all have different callings in life, different paths that our Creator has lead us down. We’ve dealt with stresses of a special needs child, and have not had a full nights rest in well over a year…this is were God placed us. I often say “This is our cross… others crosses might look easier to bear…but they have burdens I don’t understand. Please know we DO NOT consider you less of a person, less busy, or less capable…YOU were created by God for a unique purpose!! I just want you to understand- it may look like an easy breezy life all full of smiles- but same as you- their may be a war going on in our hearts that you as a single don’t understand. Continue sharing your heart as God leads you!!!

      1. Great thoughts, Jules! It’s very true that misunderstandings occur when we all have different life circumstances. I think what I was hoping for in this post (which I wrote as a satire, yet many readers took quite seriously and considered me rude for it), was to start bridging that gap of misunderstanding between two identities or two life circumstances, that is, single people and married people.

      2. I do understand that it is satire, and love it…satire=me. I felt led to give a little addition about married folks… : ) You have an AMAZING talent for writing…and I did not mean to be confrontation. I knew with your style of writing you would be open to other people’s thoughts and feelings. Have a blessed week with us Mr & Mrs’s treating you with your due respect!! : )

    2. Jake: I’m sure parenting is a BIG job, and there are aspects of it that I cannot even imagine. But I hope you understand that this post is not about who is “busier,” moms or single people. The point of the post is that a lot of my single friends have been hurt by thoughtlessness comments or actions by their married friends.

  6. HA! Number 7?? Don’t even ask married people if they have plans before issuing an invitation! it’s rude to married folks too who may find it painful to explain that their family does not care enough about them to show up for any holidays OR that their budget does not allow them to travel or . . . their special needs childs needs are such that trying to travel 5 hours to a relatives house full of noise and commotion and not too familiar faces will trigger off post-traumatic stress and ruin the whole event for everyone. Courtesy in this area needs much improving . . . thanks for blogging so boldly.

  7. Excellent article.not just a whiny rant, but a heartfelt explanation of the problem,with solutions.interjections of comic relief are hilarious.I especially liked the Shakespeare ! I am guessing you are a great teacher! Well done!

  8. The wonderful thing about the internet is the ability to let me know how many people have a problem with me. Yup, I’m “just” a mom and I occasionally rant about single teachers who give us one-more-tri-fold to finish….sorry but I have to finish a quilt so that I can help pay the tuition. :0

  9. We are people. We are women. We are alike. We sometimes tend toward discontent, or seeing only our own situation, assuming everyone else has it together, has it easier than us, and is purposely ignoring us. Even among married couples, there are those who get invited and those who do not. There are those who have energy to invite others and those who do not. There are married, male school teachers who get asked what their summer job is and a strange “oh” when they say they’re staying home to help their wife. There are moms whose husbands work all the time who envy the teacher’s wives. And the moms with full quivers envy the solitude and even loneliness of the childless and the singles. And the singles wish for the love and the touch and the childless wish for the cute kids….but none of us really has the perfect life. We all have something missing. We all need Jesus. And we all need to keep working at communicating our needs, working at hearing other people’s hearts, and doing the best we can. And extending grace to those who appear to be rude. Because maybe we can’t tell when you’re too busy and when you want to be included. Maybe we sometimes wish we could still go to the singles retreats and singings. Maybe we wish we could make our own decisions about our finances, without having to consider x other people that we are providing for.

    1. Yes, communicating and listening! Two very important things. …Perhaps using satire was not the way to communicate, per se, on this issue. I did not realize that the “treatment of single people” was such a touchy subject.

      1. I’m actually realizing that I apparently have some deep-seated issues with this (understanding other people, friendship, helping each other, being confident enough in who I am that I can allow other people to be fully them) that were touched off by reading your essay. Maybe I suddenly felt overwhelmed with not knowing when to invite someone, if I think I just want company while I’m folding my laundry and they might think I’m asking for help with my work and assuming they have none. Maybe I personally don’t do well with satire. Actually, I know I don’t. I’m sorry for perhaps coming across as being bitter.

    2. I feel that I should reply to this comment, as a woman who was single for many years, and now has a husband and child. I appreciate this other perspective, and that it was not written unkindly. I think single people need to keep all that in mind, and not get hung up on their own problems.

      BUT. I do think you are missing something.

      The things brought up in this article are particular problems single people face. They are hard things. I have been on both sides of the fence, and this post brought back some unpleasant memories. Yes, both singles and marrieds have their own problems, but this article is focused on the single side of things. I don’t think she is saying that married people don’t have problems. Just that these are problems especially dealt with by singles.

      Also- and I don’t mean to be rude here- your comment makes it clear that you have NO IDEA. Do I have problems as a wife and mom? Yes. Would I go back to being a single person on my own? Never. That point about married people sharing the load, and the one about single people never getting touched… those are huge. The alone-ness can be a big battle. It’s fun to spend time with friends, and singles have close relationships that are wonderful, but they can’t compare to the loyalty and companionship of that one person who has chosen to spend life with you. And the hurt of not being invited to friends’ events simply because you are single… the insult of not being trusted with responsibility simply because you are single… the list of things in this article that I experienced as a single person is long. These issues are real.

      Of course, we all need to give each other grace. I have wished, since I were married, that some single friends would understand why I don’t invite them (or anyone) over much (I am so overwhelmed with my house and child and life.) But once again, I think this post was meant to present the single side. Somebody else can present the married side on THEIR blog. I am sure this author would read and absorb it and try to more fully understand their viewpoint.

    3. Sarah… thank you for coming back and acknowledging my reply. This subject is very close to my heart, and seeing comments that seemed not to really hear the heart of what I felt this article was trying to say, really touched something off inside me. I respect you for opening yourself up to what I had to say. I feel compelled to offer my own apology in return, because at one point I said “I don’t meant to be rude here” but I think I was a bit rude just the same.

  10. At first read it seemed that everything a married person does is rude. I say that empathetically as a thirty-six year old (happy birthday to me yesterday) conservative Mennonite male who often feels twice rejected (once by eligible females and a second time by ‘rude’ family centered Mennonite culture) and yet cannot put words to it. We aren’t supposed to complain when the pastor brags about the wife who made him who he is or notice the absurdity of his daughter simultaneously rejecting you for who you are as a single man. We aren’t supposed to hurt when he highly recommends marriage while not lifting a finger to help you achieve that ideal.

    I spent mother’s day dinner alone. My parents were traveling and nobody bothered to invite me over. Perhaps I was unnoticed? Maybe people assumed I was taken care of, wouldn’t be interested in being around other people or they didn’t want their special occasion imposed on? Who knows. The particular reasons don’t actually matter. I don’t think it is the assumptions or rudeness that is the real problem either. I believe it is the longing for acceptance as an equal or desire to be someone worthy of consideration and love that’s the issue.

    A person with a committed loving spouse and family has that extra layer of security. They don’t have that lingering doubt of their own worth that a single does. They don’t have the deficit of physical touch. They don’t have a fear of being categorized with those lacking. They cannot identify with the feelings of those left in their wake because they are preoccupied. I don’t expect them to understand.

    1. (A bit brutal, was I?) Your points here are very valid. Misunderstanding can be taken as rudeness when the real problem is a lack of communication. So keep writing.

      1. Thanks! It is not something I enjoy speaking about as a single who wants to remain attractive and avoid the stigma of a whiny hypersensitive single person. Because soon enough some brilliant mind will come up with the idea that what I am today is the reason I wasn’t successful then, which does have a grain of truth to it that is disconcerting. However, silence is part of my personal fight against the labels that I don’t need to further encumber my efforts.

        I blogged on this: http://wp.me/p5bGf9-29

  11. Interesting article with lots of “attitude”. Enough attitude to make one frightened of reaching out to a single person, lest we do or say something wrong.

  12. I suggest you move to another community. There are many churches and communities that LOVE and RESPECT singles. Not that we always do and say the perfect things to them, but, hello, that’s life. Any and all varieties of married people get our share of rude remarks or actions thrown our way, too. Just saying.
    And . . . have you tried reaching out, inviting married people over, giving hugs, showing love, etc.? I’m sure a lot of this needed to be said, at least in your community, but maybe you are making it too much about yourself. It’s not about us, you know.

    1. True, BUT I have seen a lot of single people hurt by these experiences, probably a lot more so than I have ever been. I speak for my single brothers and sisters in Christ.

  13. This was a great reminder for me as a young married. Thanks for sharing your heart, though I admit my own heart was racing by the end of the article and I was expecting a hand to pop out of the screen somehow and slap me in the face. LOL. I think we all need to remember that every other person in church is on a different journey and be aware that unless we’ve walked in their shoes, we won’t fully understand, and therefore we will probably hurt each other in our misunderstanding. I don’t mean to diss the way you shared, because I don’t know you personally and maybe some of the harshness was sarcasm. I’ve also walked a lonely path as a transplant into a huge Mennonite community and I could relate with some of what your said. For example, I lived in the community for 7 months before my husband and I ever received one meal invitation. He had family in the area but I didn’t know a soul before we started dating and we had a long distance relationship, so I didn’t get to know people very well with not living in the same area, let alone country which was my case.
    My point is, I’ve had to learn to not assume I’m the only one walking a lonely or just difficult path. Because for a long time I did and it made me live in a pity party or relate only with a select few that truly understood. As I’ve started reaching out I’m learning other people’s journeys and realizing we all have those “stop being rude to me as a __________” feelings.
    Maybe part of the solution is having a good variety of friends in different stages in life, where we can share our hurts and desires and help each other see other perspectives.

    Anyway, I don’t mean to take away from the truth in your post. As a young mom who has a desire to try and truly be freinds and have an open home to single girlfriends (that doesn’t only expect babysitting and help washing dishes) this felt like a slap in the face more than helpful and encouraging. But I appreciate the insight, nevertheless.

    1. I’m grateful you realized it was satire, and I’m truly sorry if you don’t appreciate sarcasm. (Because that’s what I was going for.) However, I realize that these are real issues, so I can see why someone would rather talk about them in an a different tone or in a more encouraging way.

  14. Upon reading you “about” page and more of your posts I realized I think we may both be referring to the SAME community!! Made me laugh out loud actually:) we should meet sometime!

  15. I enjoyed this perspective as a married woman. Thanks for sharing honestly. I can learn from this… As a former teacher I especially wish the “teacher” part would be better understood. And I am NOT amused by the vast amount of Mennonites who seem to have no concept of rest or career development. Don’t get me started.

  16. It might be that many married people in your church actually do care about you and your friends; perhaps they are unsure how to reach out–or, based on the content in your post, they may have a valid concern about offending you no matter what they try to do. For just a couple of examples, if you are pretty good at declining invitations where you would feel like a third wheel, and your married friends should just invite you (item 1), why would you be unable to simply decline invitations where you might be exposed to “icky” people (item 2)? Or, if it’s rude to “assume and don’t ask first,” (item 6) because you are actually very busy, how can it also be rude to invite you by asking if you already have plans (item 7)?

    It is awkward being single in a church, for sure, but–perhaps–it may be awkward knowing how to engage singles, too. Might be helpful to give your married friends the benefit of the doubt, rather than labeling their attempts to reach out as rudeness.

    1. Possibly. Though I would say that some of those groups are mutually exclusive. Some people never invite, and some people never stop inviting.
      Basically, I think singles would just appreciate a little thoughtfulness either way.

  17. Ok, I didn’t read, I skimmed. I was a single Mennonite woman till I lived in cities with no Mennonite church. I got around to teaching in public schools by age 37 and I stayed single till age 47. Satire or not, I was at school 11 hours a day five days a week and 4 hours on Saturday. So its hard to read this as satire when so much of it is true. I met a man on eharmony who had been married for 33 years until his first wife died of cancer. He was/is more conservative than my home Mennonite church is now. The hours at school have been limited to 10 hours per day 5 days per week. Hate to burst the bubble. And I’m still in charge of the yardwork, cleaning, cooking. I love my husband. If you make it to 47 years old before getting married, you will forget about some of these issues. I was surprised to read some of your points and hadn’t thought about a lot of that for years.

  18. I was single for many years…school teacher…university student…and felt much the same…it didn’t help that I was an outsider to my community to begin with…much that is valid and correct here…thanks. Then I got married…and had a special needs son…and started homeschooling him…and began learning the nitty gritty of the up-close-in-your-face-relationships…called motherhood and wifehood…and things got unimaginably (at least to my former, single, career-girl self) difficult. And here’s the point (which is often missed in this back and forth between singles and marrieds): married life is often harder for those in it simply because God is taking them further up and further in on their journey. Singleness comes before marriage (and then for women, often, it may return later), and may only be the first steps of the journey. Then a person marries and goes further into the path, and the path grows narrow and more perplexing. For those who are single long term, I expect they walk a similar pathway (I have spoken to single women in their late thirties who must go deeper into suffering, the passing of the chance to have children, ever, for instance). Marriage is more difficult for me simply because I am being refined more vigorously by an untame God. Long-term singlehood may bring on similar refinement (and perhaps done partly through the misunderstandings and rudeness of the rest of us?). But I can only speak for the older single-then married with children pattern, because that is me.

    1. Really intriguing thoughts here. So how does this relate to hospitality? I think the difficulty of accepting/giving hospitality in the midst of our own perplexing journeys is kind of a topic that is emerging here. Future blog post maybe?

      1. How does it relate to hospitality? A valid question…I am poor at the grace of hospitality myself. This comes partly from my introvert self, and partly from my status as a newcomer to the Mennonite community. I always found the Mennonite custom of filling a table (and adding in the singles to round out awkward guest lists!) puzzling. I found your “Herbert Boring and Jared Icky” just hilarious. How does one minister to the emotional and spiritual needs of one another when the table is full? How do we get to know each other at all? [Note: here is my introvert self speaking.]

        I find that for my stage of life, I do very little hospitality. I am exhausted. Too exhausted to try to wrestle my son through a session of evening church, let alone a social engagement. Too exhausted to open my house up to more than the stream of therapists that come to help my son. Too exhausted from driving to countless appointments and trying to do some car-schooling on the way. Married with children has served to narrow my life away from friends and a church community, and opened it to the world of medical staff, speech and occupational therapists. My hospitality is a different form. It is less about opening my home to the singles in my area, (so I trust that God will send others to do that) and more about ministering grace to those who are trying to help us.

        It is a strange gratefulness that this type of giving brings…

  19. I suggest that you follow up with an educational post on how satire is supposed to work. You know, make it “menno-understandable.” 🙂

    Loved this piece. Keep up the good work!!

  20. Hi! So, as many, I found this post very interesting. I had never read your blog before. Someone commented about this post, so I thought I would check it out. 🙂
    At 23, with a new realization of my singleness, and a desire to love it, because it is my gift (check out 1 Corinthians 7, yes it is a gift!) , I enjoyed what you had to say. And I did understand the satire, as so many did not. I haven’t not really experienced any of these overlookings yet, as I still live at home and have a close family and friend group. However, with my friends quickly marrying off, and my life path changing, I am sure I will encounter some social difficulties. This post brought a few single ladies to mind, of whom I could spend more time with. A good reminder…
    A note to those who have expressed that marriage=maturity (spiritual or otherwise): I am not married, and I do admit that marriage, to some, brings a kind of seasonedness to their life. However, because one is single does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not working in their life, maturing them, and giving them wisdom to grow and learn. Many, many great Christians of the past were single, and incredibly influential, mature, and used mightily by God. And that is no different today. I have met many shallow married people, and many shallow single people. I have met many passionate, Godly married people, and many passionate, Godly single people. For some God may use marriage and children to promote growth and maturity, but for others no. Spiritual maturity is not dependent upon marriage. Spiritual maturity is dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and how we respond to Him and our circumstances.
    I love dialogue! Thank you for taking the risk of broaching a difficult topic Shasta!

  21. I think my favorite view of you on a comment thread on facebook was “catty”. Such a catty, catty girl. Don’t forget your sheath dress, bob, and brazen lipstick. hehe.

    I think think was a relevant and needed voice. I have felt many of these in the past and realized reading it that I have DONE some of these since getting married. *facepalm*

    1. Believe me, this is also a reminder to ME! A couple years ago I lived on my own, then moved back home for a while, and I’m pretty sure when I was living at home again I got lazy about hospitality.

  22. My favorite was #5. AMEN!! But I also really connected with what you said about being busy, assumptions, cooking, and hugs.

    At the same time –despite being a single, public school teacher– I found this article convicting for me as well:
    – How many times have I known someone else (single or not) could use an invitation, and I didn’t invite them/reach out to them because I didn’t have the energy? or I only invited certain people? or I made the party for just people like me?
    – How many times have I avoided listening to married people’s problems, yet expected them to care about mine?
    – How many times have I been so focused on myself, I was oblivious to someone else who needed a hug? Just this past Sunday (Mother’s Day) at my Baptist church, I was feeling sorry for myself since all the mothers were getting flowers when I suddenly realized I should have given flowers to some of the older ladies without family. Or perhaps the mother who just miscarried.
    – How many times have I made assumptions without asking first? assumptions about how they raise their children? assumptions about whether they can have children or not? assumptions about their jobs? assumptions about how great it is to be married? assumptions about their plans for the future?
    – How many times have I contributed to the assumption that singles aren’t as mature/spiritual by taking advantage of the low expectations (not cooking, not hosting, or saying no to leading VBS/teaching SS)?

    Thanks for voicing this. Keep blogging!

  23. Esta that mental picture made me literally LOL.

    Well, thanks to you I was invited to go on the ladies retreat, and thanks to your husband I became the first single woman in our church to be elected to a committee, so I wouldn’t feel too bad if I were you. 😀

  24. Point #5 is one that I’ve often thought about. It’s funny when youth group chaperones are younger than a large number of the “youth” — but hey, they’re married, so I guess that makes them adults. [There really should be a sarcasm punctuation mark, because that’s what this sentence needs.]

  25. Nice piece of satire. 🙂 However, I must not have been single long enough, because I didn’t experience any of these. I worked full time, graduated with a bachelor’s degree, and enjoyed life as a single person. I had loads of free time, ate a meal at someone’s house from church on average 4 out of 7 nights a week, spent every Sunday afternoon with a married church family, and lived 1400 miles from my nearest family member. I guess I was an exception to the rule. Again, I realize this is satire (particularly exaggeration I’m assuming), but these points even without exaggeration never applied to me.

    1. I do think single guys often find they have more time than single girls. They are not expected to do everything a girl does. I’m guessing it’s probably because you are male that you eat so many meals away from home.

  26. One thing that stands out in this article ….besides the heavy satire…. is Mennonite. If I were not a Mennonite and didn’t know better, if I was observing the Mennonites and considering the Anabaptist lifestyle they live and happened upon this article, well, I think it would be a red flag for me! I wouldn’t want to be part of such rude, thoughtless, uncaring people….at least that’s what I would think they were like after reading this. I sincerely hope that people realize that there are many Churches that are not this way. I sincerely hope that this article does not turn someone who is honestly seeking away from Christ, from conservative Christianity. Our Church has 2 youth on the Sunday evening committee along with marrieds. The single fellow is often the Sunday evening moderator. Our youth fellows as well as marrieds lead songs and usher and have devotions. Our girls teach Sunday School. No, our Church isn’t small….over 200 attending normally. I think our singles get more dinner invitations then our marrieds. One year hubby n I had 4 single fellows over for a Valentine’s meal….on Valentine’s Day….and had a grand time. Mother’s Day this year 2 single fellows came over after Church and spent all afternoon n evening with our little family. Maybe where you are from it seems extra much that way to you, and I’m sorry if you feel alone, lonely, and left out. That’s a terrible feeling but you know what, as marrieds we can face that same loneliness! I totally understand that socializing and fellowship is such a blessing. We have friends that like to come over and play with our kiddos. It’s fun to see them enjoying our children. There is something super special about receiving love from a children. When our youngest was born there were times that people we met would just be so in awe with him. Several times I offered to let them hold him. If I remember right the one person had tears in their eyes as they got to cuddle our little bundle. So yes, I can see that you must miss that physical loving…..but, if you’re like some of our single friends and cherish n interact with your friend’s children, you will receive their kiddos love…..chuckle…lots of it! And about that hug…. I’m a huggy kinda gal, but many are not. While it’s true that your married friends may not have reached out n hugged you lately….have they reached out n hugged anyone lately? It might not be that they are intentionally not hugging you, but that they don’t do a lot of hugging. Just know, there are MANY lonely people….not just singles. One great remedy for this is to reach out to others that aren’t involved in as much social life and become friends with them. It seems there will always be cliques n popular people but instead of watching them and feeling jilted for not being included, I encourage you and your friends to reach out to others that aren’t so popular and always socializing and you might be richly blessed with some true and lasting friendships. Wishing you peace on your journey. Here’s a cyber (((HUG))) from your Sister in Christ.

    1. This is lovely, thank you.

      One thought: I do care deeply about our Anabaptist churches and communities. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t risk writing a scathing attack on our social practices. I’m really glad that these issues aren’t a problem in your church, but the fact is that they ARE common in a lot of places. So rather than remaining silent and painting pleasant pictures for prospective members, I feel that it is right that we are open and honest about these experiences, whether or not the un-churched or the non-Mennonite understands.

  27. Spot on! Could so relate to it, but than being one of those single ones….
    I was kindly invited to a “young marrieds social” being a bit lacking in the social opportunities department currently I went, to listen to an evening full of pregnancy tests and birthing stories….
    How about the family pictures sent out at Christmas every year, my fridge receives very few of them perhaps because I’m not so inclined to send out my own “evidently still single” picture every year….
    Was voted on to a committee at church (one that was right down my line of previous experience) however little consideration is given to the fact that one who has a full time day job can’t just not show up for work when the committee duty calls….

    But in all the article to me felt like a call to hear each other out, and to at least think of what it might be like from another’s point of view.

  28. I don’t know you from Frank, but I have come to the conclusion that we should be friends. Mostly because of your excellent use of memes. the end.

  29. I appreciated the insights in your article, but I almost didn’t read it because of the last words in your second sentence. This term is commonly used among Mennonite young people today but was coined in my generation (60s/70s). It is NOT a good or godly term. Otherwise, you make many valid points.

  30. Thank you for initiating this conversation. I have made some of the mistakes you mentioned and hope to not make them again… then I will have truly learned something. 🙂 The point about not asking if someone already has plans… I’d never thought about the shame/annoyance that can accompany responding to that question. Even our attempts to care for each other are often human and prone to pain… You have helped me to know the needs of “the other” and care more humanely.

  31. Great article. It helps to know it’s satire. 🙂 (Enjoyed the pictures!) I applaud you for being honest about it! I think we married people need to sit up and listen to the heart of this post.

  32. At first read, this came across to me as singles blaming married people,which made something rise up inside me:) because I am married, but feel a lot of these same things.
    I think this blog post is more about being heard, understood, and pain that circumstances bring up in us. You can be single or married and feel these things- ignored, forgotten, not cared about, a nobody, not understood, not validated, don’t belong….I struggle with these things and I am married. People and their responses to me or lack thereof bring pain and I want to blame them. I’m thinking it comes down to identity. Who I am in Christ, which I am just in the very beginning stages of learning.
    People aren’t going to understand,can’t even,understand because they haven’t been where I/you/others have been. But I find if someone cares about me as a person (my heart) that goes a long way even if they don’t understand what it’s like to be in my situation. I am trying to choose to focus on those people who do care about me and are there for me.

  33. Been thinking about how much I love your writing since I read this yesterday. AND thinking about how singles in our church might be feeling. Thanks!

  34. I am a young married and we really enjoy having single people at our parties…and we like to be included in yours too….just because we are married now doesn’t me we are “old and boring and just want to sit at home and look at each other all the time” 🙂

  35. And married people don’t have any of these problems? Having come from the Mennonites yet with a working mother and having been single the majority of my adult life, I understand both sides. All I can say is, please please stop worrying or even caring what other people think and don’t expect special treatment just because your unhappy with your situation. Live your life, be ok with who and how are are and just accept that some people are as set in their ways and or ignorant as a woodpecker on a steel post; but God made them that way so it might be ok.

  36. I took time to read this aloud to my husband tonight. After reading in comments that it is satire, I could read aloud with the correct tone and it made us laugh. But there is way too much truth involved and not quite enough exaggeration for me to see it on first glance. Yes, it has given us cause for discussion in our Baptist/Mennonite household. He was married for all of his adult life except 18-19 years old and 52-53 years old after his wife died of cancer. I was single till 47 years old. Everyone has a different experience. Your explanation of what you learned was good. Your life looks interesting. Have fun.

  37. i was caught up in the menno-viral reading of your blog. Kudos to you for your open frank and witty blog. I loved it!!:) I forwarded it to a bunch of my single friends in the area and we all loved it. We decided we want to be friends with you :):) so if u happen to be in southwestern Ontario let us know 🙂 we WILL invite your but there is no guarantee there will be a mennonite cooked meal lol- we all work full time 😝

  38. Just a quick note on your fifth point: I suspect it’s less an issue of spiritual maturity than it is of expected availability, i.e. married folks tend to be more tied down than singles, right? That’s how it is in my community, at any rate… asking Paul or Jesus to take care of Sunday school devotions wouldn’t have worked out too well because they were constantly out of town. 🙂

    1. @ mpetersheim That may have been the case in your community. In my church community, singlehood is completely irrelevant as to whether or not you are asked to serve on any committee. Ten year’s ago in Shasta Fog’s adopted community I asked someone why “x, y, and z” were not being used in positions within the church. The answer: “Well, they are not married.” These attitudes do exist even if they are not what you and I have experienced.

  39. good read! 🙂 I am married and do not feel nerves and offended. Just thought I would put that out there so you know not all of us read this and took it personal. Hate when that happens.

  40. I identified with your blog. I’m a big fan of satire 😉 In the Menno culture I felt as a single person I wasn’t seen as “mature” like people didn’t know what to do with me, kind of like leftovers 🙂 Let’s put am the extras over here on the side.

    Going to another church was really culture shock, but I’m learning too not put myself in a box either.

    Disclaimer: I know married people have their own issues and all that.

  41. I agree with you on many points. Especially the cooking part. Sometimes the married folk don’t know what it’s like or don’t remember what it’s like being single … And lonely.

  42. Seeing your follow up post, I skipped the comments on your essay so as to not to be corrupted away from my own impressions of your ideas. my apologies if I repeat what others have said better. My credentials are as follows, single, multiple years away from family, more years than you actually, multiple communities.
    Your points do have a measure of truth. I suppose each mico-society is going to have different of the described points in which they are particular offenders. I think I have managed to experience all of the above in some fashion or the other. With he exception of the teaching components, no capacity for evaluation there. Maybe that is where we start to differ.
    I really would not of described my experience, before I was educated by your words, as one that was offensive or rude. I can’t speak to your personal story, but most of the time when I have felt stressed about a lack of constructive relationships I have assumed that I was the one responsible for the lack of Christ like character. I have usually been right. I try to cultivate that habit. I have successfully corrected the situation when willing to put in the effort. Cosmetic slights are painful, but quite transient.
    I think that is what disappointed me most about your effort. There are serious, non cosmetic critiques of the relationship between the western church -including Mennonites, and singles/youth that could be written on by a talented thinker and writer. And talented you are in both areas. I started the story hoping to see some of these redoubts challenged. I was highly entertained by what I read, but I think you have the talent to mine deeper and make more than a noisy little surface attack on a lightly defended cultural outpost.

  43. A good article. But yes, so TRUE it was almost difficult to determine if it WAS satire. I polled a lot of friends a year ago on the subject of Mennonite churches relating to singles. And I came across almost every issue you addressed. I then attempted to present it as a topic without using too much satire.(I like the suggestion that there should be punctuation to indicate satire. 🙂 )
    I have been so blessed as a single living in multiple communities away from my biological family. God bless you with a place as you continue to serve where you are called.

  44. This was an excellent fog post. I mean, blog post. Every single one of your points rings true, even if, say, one of them, is not the experience of say, one single.
    As a barefoot housewife to the singles at large, please except my humble apology for us truly rude marrieds. I’m sorry we hurt you!
    And that includes me, because I am guilty as charged on some points. Like “going to bed early.” Last evening’s conversation when dropping off my single bro and sis at their house at 7:30pm: Them: come in for coffee before you go home! Us: umm, we’d better go home and go to bed. Them: be adventuresome and stay out until 9:15. Us: I guess not. 🙂
    So there you have it. I especially enjoyed the illustrations. 🙂 You’re a great fogger! I mean, blogger!

  45. Kind of late to the discussion, but I have one 100% sincere question: What, in your usage, does “satire” mean? It was used twenty times in the comments, with a quarter of them from you. When I read it, I thought, “This isn’t really what I would think of as satire….” But reading a definition of the word, I guess it is: “Satire: a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. : humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc.”

    My wife and I (yes, I’m afraid I’m one of the evil “them!”) were discussing when satire is appropriate within the Christian community. I have some thoughts here, but will gladly withhold them until I understand a bit better what you were trying to do here.

    Regardless, your piece was thought-provoking, albeit potentially paralyzing for us married people in future relationships with our single brothers and sisters. You are a gifted writer!

    1. So, Dru, we (as in my husband and I) were discussing the same thing. My study of satire does not really go beyond my early English Lit survey courses in my undergrad English degree, so I feel sort of out in left field here. But I understand your question, and would have asked it as well if I had my head more pulled together on it. In other words, you are putting words to my thoughts. Since grad school I have dipped into a bit of satire (British), but just for pleasure, and not serious study. This piece fits the literal definition (which you reference in your comment), although I have since consulted Abrams glossary of lit terms, which gives a different emphasis: “Satire can be described as the literary art of diminishing or derogating a subject by making it ridiculous and evoking toward it attitudes of amusement, contempt, score, or indignation” (Abrams 284-5). On one level, I think this piece accomplishes this: those of us guilty of treating singles thing way (perhaps thoughtlessly) are made to look, at best, objects of amusement, or at worst, objects of scorn.

      And yet, it has not the feeling of satire. That is why I understand your question. It is one thing to know the definition, and fit a piece of writing into a list of descriptors, it is another to be a reader of satire and recognize it when you see it. You are seeing something, Dru, that is valid. Thanks for forming the question.

      And, dear writer, please do not take offence. Satire is a difficult genre, both to write and to study. You are brave in your attempt.

  46. Been hearing so much about your post that I knew I had to go home and read it. You seem to be a lovely girl with a good head on your shoulders, and you must know what you’re talking about. =) I’m really sorry that your community and church in particular has brought a lot of pain to you in this area of treating single people. My advice to you: move South. =) Just kidding. Kind of. =) My church is awesome and I can’t say I share the same feelings that you have. However, they are VERY family-oriented to the point where it seems 95% of social life is family. I would like to change this!! I’m dating a wonderful man from a close-knit family, so I am so blessed to be involved with all his family’s activities. That is huge to me, being 600 miles away from my own family. But if and when we get married, I really want to hang out with various couples from church, invite people other than family over, and of course, be sensitive to singles…! =)

  47. I came across your blog from a cousin of mine who reccomended it. Although you meant the above article as satire, it appears that you may have hit on more truth than you even realized. Truth sometimes hurts you know. From my observation, the more conservative the group the more likely you will see some of these attitudes. I don’t think you would find those thoughts as prevalent in our church as it maybe once was. Our single people of all ages are an important part of our group. I myself have filled many positions over the years that no single ever had before to my knowledge. I feel loved and respected as a person.

    Great job of writing. You handled it well.

  48. (please read with a healthy dose of satire)
    Most married people started out single and have at least a vague memory of the angst involved.
    Many single people have never yet been married and so have not the foggiest notion what angst a married person may harbor, and dare not admit for fear of judgment or ridicule.
    I therefore think a time may come when a previously offended single finds him/herself after marrying~enlightened as they are with new perspective~ to protest being called a rude married.

    Now, might I be permitted to point out that Herbert Boring and Jared Icky are people too. Lonely, single, untouched, (wondering if they’re unlovable?) quite possibly offended, people.

    Just like you.

    Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Married see more to them than you do. Maybe there is depth, responsibility, generosity, loyalty, strength, God-fearing, gentleness, heart…perhaps the rude marrieds only meant to give you an opportunity to discover it when they invited you at the same time?

    I also wonder what nickname YOU might have? Wouldn’t you like people to look past whatever it is, to see what else you have to offer? After all, hospitality (friendly admission into the circle of belonging-hood) ought to be extended to all singles, not only to the most obviously attractive. That would be rather, um, rude, wouldn’t you say?

  49. Can I just say what a relief to discover an individual who genuinely knows what they are discussing on the web. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people ought to read this and understand this side of your story. I can’t believe you’re not more popular given that you definitely possess the gift.|

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