Firstly, may I say thank you to everyone who took the time to read and comment on the rant I posted yesterday. I am slighty intimidated by the number of views. Possibly because it makes the niggling idea clearer that the next project should be to write more formally and helpfully about how one copes with life on one’s own. Also because I hope I haven’t offended anyone that doesn’t deserve to have had their conscience pricked. There are two families in my last church who have been kind and thoughtful, accepting my hospitality as well as inviting me into their home life, with whom I am still friends. And I do have wonderful, understanding and affirming friends in other places. All you who offered commuting-nightmare rescues: you are on my radar now!
Several people asked what their church can do to be more family-like. I don’t have a lot of answers but I will attempt to think some out here. There is an difficult tension between busy families desperately trying to carve out time together for themselves and a church asking them to share more time with others. You may take the view that the former is selfish and the latter understands the meaning of hospitality; or you may not.
So here are some quick thoughts. Are your social events family-oriented? Is it really a bring-and-share lunch with people all mixed up together; or do families and cliques sit together excluding people at a loose end? Do your housegroups meet only at times
convenient for those with children?
I’m not really into dinner party culture, but I believe this operates on the even-numbers principle – us oddly numbered folk make your tables untidy, or something.
Don’t assume just because we live on our own that we are not busy. My life is crammed (and yes, I know, I brought the PhD stress on myself). We are not just spare bodies to be drafted in when you need someone vaguely human. I have actual talents and gifts, you know (see blog posts passim!) So, churches, please take the time to get to know and understand me.
Equally; don’t not ask us to help! So yes, asking the impossible here of you.
Does your church include the everyday in its prayer intentions? In 6 years of church in Colchester I’ve only once heard a prayer for non-elderly people on their own.
That prayer said, ‘we pray the singles will feel valued.’ Well, you know, God does value me (so I am told). It’s not Him that’s the problem. And I’ve got a very well developed sense of my own self worth, too. So what is it, exactly, we’re praying for here?
This is partly why I like services that follow a format as its prayers are far more personal and meaningful.
I’m aware my rant yesterday paints me as the poor martyr so I feel I should point out that I am actually quite difficult to like. I am terribly impatient, wanting to get everything right first time and change the world overnight. I expect you to disapprove of me, so I put up barriers. I stopped going to services with anything remotely social years ago so I don’t offer you an awful lot of scope to get to know me or me you. I make terrible jokes and get my words in a muddle making it hard to start a sentence coherently. I forget you don’t do ‘networking’ in the same way as I do, and you disapprove of online nonsense. I talk drivel and I grind my own axe whenever I can. I don’t let you get a word in edge ways and I make as many assumptions about you, as you do me. I want new people to accept and understand me as well as old friends instantly (did I mention the impatience?) I shy away from people who are ‘difficult’. I make snap judgments about you, taking unintended slights personally and deeply (well, really, how hard is it to spell my name right?) Added I have a shaky spirituality and a wobbly faith. Foundations are there, but the ‘unfairness’ of things baffles me. So as I rant against the world expecting it to change, I should examine too where I am going wrong.