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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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?
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?
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.