as for me and my house: reflections on year 30
Hi, Danielle here. Yes, still single.
The edge has worn off a little as I careen towards 30.
My brother's getting married in June. [This is a wonderful thing!] My worst case scenario throughout my early 20s was contemplating attending his wedding without a date. We're up on it, and I'm okay with it. All those years spent dreading this were wasted!
[cough don't let that stop you from stepping up, gentlemen friends, cough]
I had vowed to myself that whichever came first, 30 or my brother's wedding, I would finally give online dating another try.
Backstory: a friend once signed me up for eHarmony. I was 21, it was horrific, I had 5 matches in the ENTIRE United States, and I quit within 24 hours. Wasn't ready then. Also, we're no longer friends.
Earlier in 2016, thinking I really needed to make an effort to meet more people, I tried. I sat on the couch with my stomach in knots (I HATE meeting people and I HATE spending money even more!) and I located the optimal coupon code combination, did my research to make sure I could get my money back, and clicked the order button.
American Express, in its infinite wisdom, decided this was a fraudulent charge.
My conscience is already giving me heck (this FEELS WRONG) and now my phone is buzzing with emails, texts, and calls, as my home phone rings, first American Express and then Mom, because my old home phone is still linked to my credit card. Mom says "has someone been shopping with your card?" and I'm thinking "oh PLEASE don't let them have said who the charge was from".....
So when my heart stopped pounding, I consulted my matches and found that, while the system has improved, I still hate it. I hate being forced to evaluate people based on their stupid, stupid bios and a couple of photos. Oh really? You've read the Bible and Moby Dick? You love dogs and want kids someday? Great! So do TENS OF THOUSANDS OF OTHER DUDES. Everyone is shiny and happy and completely devoid of personality.
I rely so strongly on the sense I get from people in person, it's borderline impossible to make connections in a setting like online dating. I felt no inclination to reach out to anyone, and once I realized that if this WORKED, I'd have to go on MULTIPLE DATES, I canceled as fast as I could. It was a weekend so I couldn't cancel until Monday. When I called and they asked for a cancellation reason, I said "this is hell and it makes me feel sick and I'd rather be alone forever", or something to that effect.
I know of several wonderful couples that met through online dating. It works. But it makes me feel physically ill, so I think I'm done. I just can't do it. I am 100% in or 100% out when it comes to liking people. Trying to have be interested in or open-minded about multiple people at the same time - even in the most above-board of ways - feels like cheating, thanks to my INFJ conscience.
Later in 2016: I get offered a book to review called "Finding God in My Loneliness". Sigh - I read the book. It makes some fair points about not being selfish, about sacrificing, pouring yourself out in the service of the church and the saints, building strong friendships, being aware that God is with you always, regardless of relationship status or how we feel about stuff.
All is well and good until [RECORD SCRATCH] there's an entire paragraph about how one of the perks of singleness is that you can buy a rotisserie chicken, and because you won't have to cook for 4 nights, you can spend all that lonely time in prayer & Scripture reading.
This is a strong argument for singleness in the same way that "putting on duvet covers by yourself is hard" is a strong argument for marriage. Which is to say, NOT AT ALL.
Anyway, after much diligent research, I located the verse which backs up this theory: 1st Corinthians 7:8 NRCT (New Rotisserie Chicken Translation). "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I, for verily, the whole of the rotisserie chicken shall be thine, and thou shalt eat upon it for four days and four nights."
This rankled me on more than one level: alone time is good. It's good for all of us, and it's life-giving for introverts. But I actually need to be prodded to spend more time with people, not less. Getting to know people, in the conventional sense, is a SACRIFICE for me. Not so much the hospitality end of things - my home is really conducive to it, which is a blessing, but being willing to go out for coffee or a meal (have I mentioned I hate spending money?) or spending time with someone when I'd rather be at home... these things are hard for me to do. Opening up my home to people I don't already know and love? Hard! Sad!
Yet I have felt so convicted about this recently - the importance of building relationships with the saints around you, bonding over food, drink, talk. The conviction has driven me far out of my comfort zone, but when it's important, you step up.
The book was making a valid point before it derailed running over that rotisserie chicken: you can't run from loneliness. You have to lean in. That has been a huge lesson in the last few years. Sometimes busy-ness and distractions are legitimate, and sometimes they can become an issue (although, unlike the author of this infamous book, I don't think Netflix is inherently idolatrous). But for Pete's sake. Rotisserie chicken is not a real singleness survival/coping tactic... is it? Would it not be as beneficial to listen to Scripture on tape while you cook a real dinner you can share with someone else? Would it not be as beneficial to meet a friend for coffee and discussion of spiritual things? #pietism!
A couple of weeks ago: it's time to update the church directory. We contract with a big professional outfit to take the photos. They send around brochures advertising their services. ALL the verbiage refers to families. "Per family", "bring your family", "the whole family should wear", "plan on 1 hour per family". Out of 33 photos in a brochure, 4 show single people. In an age where many families are no longer nuclear, and in a church where there are many widows and widowers, and a handful of never-marrieds, this rings hollow.
I go and get my picture taken. I am incredibly stressed out but finally get through it, and the salesman attempts to show me how my picture will look in a frame bearing the "as for me and my house" portion of Joshua 24:15 on it. I am momentarily amused (because I love taking things literally) as I imagine a picture of me embracing my literal house.
No, the salesman probably won't find that funny, so I don't tell him, and I decline to purchase a disc of 12 photos for $250 (?!!! What am I going to do? Hand out wallet-size photos to prospective gentlemen callers? Wait. Damn. That might have been a good idea. Print my dating resume on the back and see what happens...)
Anyway, for better or worse, I'm ready to turn 30. I am more and more thankful for the "alone time" that has elapsed in my life - it has been invaluable in teaching me to value my family, friends, and church, it has taught me what I can and cannot live with in a prospective spouse, it has driven me into the arms of a merciful and just God. I cannot "make it happen" (which is what the world tells you), I cannot "stop thinking about it and then it happens" (which is what the Christians tell you). Aaron Everingham's poem "Adventu" comes to my mind.
"while in the now and not yet
we, the drowned, are succored by the breath
of the Lord
I may be single forever, but screw the rotisserie chicken, I'm getting PIZZA. Who's with me?