Scrolling Twitter is one of my guilty pleasures. Except I don’t really feel that guilty about it. I find it to be the place where I am my truest internet self. It’s also a fun way to connect with people and find out fun new information from sources you get to curate yourself – not sources you feel obligated to follow/friend because they were your VBS teacher in 3rd grade. Hypothetically speaking.
Last week during a scrolling sesh, I came across a very colorful graph with some commentary by the son of one of my favorite humans IRL. Here’s the image:
And the commentary quoted along with it: “If this data is true, the Church needs to do a much, MUCH better job loving/encouraging/walking alongside single and unmarried young adults.”
(Side note: everyone should follow @CalebABobo on Twitter. His only flaw is that he’s a Patriots fan.)
And he’s not wrong. Take an actual look at those numbers. This data (to my knowledge – and I did not work very hard to verify that) has nothing to do with Christians. It has everything to do with marital status. Across the board, men and women that are non-married are sad, dissatisfied, and are drinking a lot. **she types as she puts her glass down on a coaster…**
And according to these numbers, women aren’t blowing the men out of the water on this. This is not a “women are just too eager to get married and put too much weight on that institution” situation. We are all struggling with not being married. Even those that are living with their partner are still sad, dissatisfied, and are drinking a lot.
So, where does the Church come in? Why would Caleb say such a thing? And why would I get so fired up and only be able to reply tweet with: “I have so many thoughts to say about this, but I think it would require a longer format and a beer. Which kind of proves the point.”
Because my guess is that these numbers wouldn’t be that different if all adults surveyed also said they were followers of Jesus.
If you go back to the start of this blog – all the way back to the dark ages of 2014 – you will see that it started as a way for me to offer some new conversations around singleness in the Church. I got (and still get) so fed up with churches and Christians making the point of everyone’s life to be married. It grieves my heart that so many ‘fringe people’ (those that don’t really know me) can only have a conversation about my dating life, or what it’s like to be single in my 30s (CAUSE I’M A UNICORN APPARENTLY).
Marriage = value. Perceived and projected.
And when we’re not married, we get forgotten about.
Sermons aren’t preached with us in mind.
Dinners aren’t hosted with us in mind.
Bible studies aren’t written with us in mind.
Summer vacations aren’t planned with bringing us along in mind.
So, instead of burdening others with our “neediness” we stay home. We subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, HBOMax, AND Disney+. We have 6 different types of alcohol at our disposal at all times cause, well, it’s a hobby and it tastes good, and it’s really not a problem, promise.
And no one knows because we’re alone.
And no one knows because they don’t ask.
And no one knows because they don’t show up.
So what’s a Church to do?!
Don’t forget about us.
I often forget that I am, actually, a bit of a unicorn. I write emails to elders reminding them to teach about singleness just as much as they teach about marriage. I co-lead a small group at my church and have a lot of things to say about being the family of God, not just a group of ‘individual’ families. I have soul-friends that I weep with because I am just so sad, and they weep along with me.
From my experience, loving/encouraging/walking alongside single and unmarried young adults is not hard. You just have to show up and remind them that they bring just as much to the table as any other image bearer of God in your circle does.
And if you’re a single/unmarried young adult, put yourself in other people’s way. YOU show up too!
There’s no formula to apply that will take these stats in a healthy direction, but there is a slow, steady, faithful process that we can all enter in to, that would hopefully, by God’s grace cause an upward turn – see God in others and show up.