I am really looking forward to the next Koorong book signing. I meet the most interesting people at book signings. They tell me their stories and we have a laugh. Sometimes we shed a tear for the saddest stories.
Every now and again, someone tells me a story that sticks in my mind.
At my last book signing, I got chatting with a middle-aged single lady about her journey of surviving singledom. This lady had been married and divorced and had resigned herself to the fact that she would remain single evermore.
Although she professed to feel happy about singledom, it seemed to me that her story was laced with sadness. She was accepting of her singleness but reluctantly so. I asked her more about her experience of singledom.
“I do wonder why I am still single,” she admitted, an edge in her voice. “I wonder if I am invisible.”
“I wonder if I am invisible.”
She waved away my attempts at empathy, insisting she was happily single. But as I watched her walk away, I felt a heaviness in my heart.
“God,” I breathed, “How many others are there? How many single people feel like they are invisible?”
I fear many singles feel this way.
Singles can feel overlooked and passed over, especially if they want a partner but a partner is not forthcoming. Singles often feel pressured to accept and embrace their singledom. Singles can feel like no-one sees the desires of their hearts. They can feel unwanted and invisible.
And not just with respect to potential partners. Singles can feel invisible in social situations and in church. Any single who has third-wheeled or been invited to another family’s get-together can feel distinctly alone.
Let’s not even mention the invisible singles at weddings.
This sense of invisibility can profoundly affect the single person. It may affect their sense of attractiveness, lovability and self-worth. They may question their suitability to be in a relationship. They may get depressed about the future and worry they will be alone forever.
They may worry they will be alone forever.
Feeling invisible can affect one’s faith in God. The single person may be praying for a partner, and the lack of said partner can cause spiritual confusion and doubt. Single people can feel like there is something wrong with them or like God has not heard their prayers.
It is one thing to feel invisible around people. It is quite another to feel invisible with God.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded we are visible. We are seen. We are known. We are valued for who we are, not for who we have. When our faith is wavering, sometimes it helps just to be reminded that God really does hear our prayers.
Sometimes we need to be reminded we are visible. We are seen. We are known.
We can do things to make single people more visible. We can share stories of singledom. We can give singles a voice in our churches. We can pray with them. We can be genuinely inclusive of singles.
These are responses beyond resignation. These are acts of welcoming. They dignify and beautify people, affirming their place in God’s family. These acts tell people they are worthy. They are worthyfying.
They are something Jesus might do.
Sounds worthwhile to me.
Do you sometimes feel invisible? How do you help make other single people visible in your circles? How can the church do better with single people? Share your stories – let’s have a countercultural conversation.