A friend was telling me that his church is doing a couples’ dinner for Valentine’s Day, and I thought, Well, that seems totally fitting. In my launch team for my book, I’ve been chatting with 100 single women, and in the last few weeks, everyone has gone quiet. Recently, someone asked why this was and everyone responded with something like, “Valentine’s Day is really hard for me. I’m sorry I’m withdrawing and isolating myself; it’s something that happens every year.”
So I was talking with my friend about how difficult it is, then, to be in a church that says, “For couples who would already be celebrating Valentine’s Day, let’s reinforce that narrative and celebrate it in another way.” Which leaves singles feeling isolated. When the church could have instead completely flipped the script and said, “We’re actually going to use this as an opportunity to celebrate our singles”—or even celebrate everybody, like a love day celebrating relationships in general. Or a movie night, saying if you don’t have a place to go, we have community for you. Or a fantastic dinner everyone can come to. It’s up to your church to think through what it wants to do. But it would have been a beautiful opportunity for people who are already being excluded to have had a place that says, “We see you. We see exactly what’s going on, and we want to offer you sanctuary.”
So that’s one thing that singles absolutely require from the church. The other thing is space to grieve and lament because there are a lot of things we’re losing. One of them, obviously, is the opportunity for biological children, but it’s also a level of intimacy we may never get to know, no matter what our community is like. There’s the future we had envisioned for ourselves that we may not get to have, and that we don’t have right now. I think it’s biblical to say, “We will sit with you in that lament, and we will grieve with you, and we won’t give you pat answers, and we will embrace this longing and lament with you. And then we will also choose to celebrate the life you do have and honor it.” It’s a both-and. As single people, we constantly need to be reminded of the tension of both.
We’re making progress here with infertility, even if there is more work to be done. When women aren’t able to have children or they lose a baby, we’re able to say, “I’m so sorry for that loss, and I’m going to choose to sit with you in this.” We understand this clearly as a longing that’s not being met, and we can understand why that hurts, and why that would be devastating. But when we see a woman with a broken heart, it’s just sad—it feels juvenile. When in reality, it’s still a relational desire that the Lord has given us that is good, and yet we’re unable to acknowledge it as such for some reason. Which is pretty devastating to the person who’s already struggling to deal with that trauma and the church is telling her, “You’ll be fine. You’ll heal up. Shake it off.”