- Josh Carden Home-School Grad and Law Student
- 2001 3 Oct
OK, its time to get personal here. Its not that Im complaining well, OK, Im complaining a tiny bit. I just need to vent a little. When I say this, I speak for my twenty-something unmarried crowd of kindred spirits. *deep breath* HOW DO I HANDLE ALL THE WELL-MEANING MATCHMAKERS OUT THERE?
Perhaps I should give a little background. Im 26 and unmarried. I have many other friends, both male and female, coming from the home school world who are around my age and also unmarried. For those folks, this is background enough! They know where Im going with this. For those of you are not in this demographic, I will spell it out as clearly as I can: Singleness is an awkward time for us!
Although we men have (hopefully) been encouraged since early in our lives to treat women with respect and chivalry, nowadays a public act of chivalry causes people to approach you and say, So, *wink, wink* are you guys an item? Well, ARE YOU? And women, who might happen to be on the receiving end of a public act of chivalry get rushed immediately afterwards as well: Does he LIKE you? Well, DOES HE? And if you happen to be friends with the other person, it becomes difficult to have a normal friendship when each action is being constantly scrutinized for romantic overtones.
This is not a new phenomenon. Eight years ago at my small Christian college, I was somewhat slow to pick up on the fact that if you walked across campus with a member of the opposite sex within a 15-foot radius (whether you spoke or not), you were considered engaged by dinner time. Chivalry wasnt even a factor. I was quite surprised to discover how many people I had dated by the time I graduated especially since I didnt date!
Need another example? This is a doozy. I was attending a post-election function last November in Washington, D.C. A bunch of Regent University students were riding a bus from Virginia Beach to attend the event. For some reason, I couldnt ride the bus on the way up, but I happened to find a friend-girl (my buddy Dale-the-Drummers term for a female friend who is just a friend) here at Regent who was driving up a little later. This was wonderful, because I was really tired and I wound up sleeping most of the three-hour drive to D.C. As we pulled up to the hotel ballroom where the event was being held, she parked the car and we both got out.
Now, this was a very nice event, so people were really dressed up and we were no exception. I smiled and started to joke that it probably looked like we were going to the prom or something. Just before I made the joke, I turned and bumped into Mike Farris! Seeing his meaningful, questioning look, I had to launch into the full explanation, which boiled down to Shes not my date, just my ride. That pretty much set a pattern for the rest of the evening: I ran into MORE PEOPLE that night that knew me. Sheesh! Bless their hearts, Im sure all of them were waiting for wedding announcements. Dont hold your breath.
After a highly technical, elaborate, and comprehensive survey conducted by yours truly, I asked some friends what they thought. I have come up with just a few of the more common incidents illustrating these matchmaking attempts. [Plagiarism Alert: I stole the line about the survey from Ben Domenech.] Now, I cant say that ALL of these have happened to me well, actually, yes, they all have!
1. The were married or engaged or courting and you should be too! phenomenon This one has particularly come to my attention because of all the weddings I attend. When two people are married/engaged/courting, they tend to want to be around other couples and do couple stuff. (I realize Im being somewhat stereotypical, but just go with me.) Therefore, it becomes their solemn DUTY to fix their friends up with each other so that they will have other couples to hang out with. Resist the urge! I want to give kudos to all of my young married/engaged/courting friends who have invited me to dinner without conveniently happening to *wink, wink* have another old friend in town for the evening. *wink, wink*
2. The nirvana of singleness phenomenon This one can come from anywhere, but its usually said with well-meaning intentions. Its simply a slight misinterpretation of what unmarried life is all about. A common statement of this phenomenon is: As soon as you get content with your life and your singleness, THEN God will send the right person along. Sorry folks, just because youve gotten to that level of contentment doesnt mean that youre going to magically walk around the corner and run into your future spouse. (Im picturing Tom the Cat going around the corner and stepping on the rake ) I know several content single people who have been content for a while now! We are ALL called to the same level of contentment that Paul possessed: the ability to be content in every situation.
3. The well-meaning, little old lady at church phenomenon Youre standing there at church, talking with a group of friends. You check your watch and you realize you have to go. You turn away and start moving toward the back, when a little old lady catches your sleeve. That (fill in last name) girl (or boy) is a wonderful girl (or boy), isnt she (or he)? she whispers and smiles. Now THERES a loaded question! How are you supposed to answer that?!?! If you say yes, youve provided the Ladies Auxiliary with the conversation topic of the month. If you say no, youve just managed to cast a shadow on the character of one of your friends. If you say were just friends, she smiles and pats your arm and says with a knowing look, Im sure you are. This leads to the next phenomenon. Here we are, a group of twenty-somethings who are in that nebulous period of time between I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl to put it into familiar literary terms.
4. The Friends Dont Let Friends Be Just Friends phenomenon This is one of the worst, because these people should know better. You have a friend that youve known for a while. This friend happens to be a member of the opposite sex. Even your families are good friends. Basically, this is a person with whom you could conceivably enter a courtship relationship EXCEPT for the fact that you have no interest in this person at all! Maybe youve even HAD that conversation with this person. Maybe theyre even interested in someone ELSE and youre the only person who knows! Or vice versa. Yet, for some reason, all of your mutual friends have decided that you two need to be together and they wont leave it alone no matter how many times you deny it. Frustration abounds.
OK, enough venting. Although these matchmaking attempts are amusing and, at times, frustrating, the matchmakers themselves are not REALLY something we can control. But we can control and take responsibility for our RESPONSE to these attempts. And by the way, dont print this article out and shove it in your parents faces and say See, Josh Carden is against parental involvement in courtship! Thats not my intent here. This article is dealing with how to respond to those OUTSIDE the family who give their unsolicited assistance. So, unmarried folks, what should our reaction be to those who try to set us up?
1. As Paul informs us, singleness is NOT a bad thing. Its something to be maximized and treasured. We are encouraged to dedicate ourselves in service to the Lord during this period of time. Will we ever get married? Maybe. Maybe not. Its Gods plan and its Gods timing. Continue to seek contentment in the station of life where God has placed you. Read I Corinthians 7 for Pauls glowing approval of those who are still unmarried.
2. If you are being repeatedly teased or set up by a particular person or group of persons, maybe they need to hear from you directly. Tell them your convictions about relationships and maybe even how their teasing affects you (speaking the truth in love, of course!). Get the word out! Most of the attempts are probably made because they think you are a wonderful young person that they want to see happily married. They may have no idea that you are (or are trying to be) quite content with your current position.
3. Finally, although this article is primarily for my fellow unmarried friends, I exhort you would-be matchmakers to resist the temptation to fix us up just because you think you should. Of course, as one friend of mine pointed out, MANY people who end up getting married were introduced at SOME point by a third party. So there is no inherent harm in introducing mutual friends to one another, but check your motives. If youre REALLY interested in helping us out, pray for us that (A) we will be single-minded in our present service to the Lord; and (B) that we will be smart enough to know the right person when he or she comes along!
I want to thank (in alphabetical order) Chad, Esther, Jessica, Kevin, and Ruth for their feedback and inspiration before and during the writing of this article. For those of you who may have noticed that I just listed (including myself) exactly three boys and three girls try to forget it! It was just a coincidence. Really.