Most of us would like to answer “yes” to that question. Ask a group of young adult singles, and the answers are mixed. We wonder when “the right one” will come along. Some worry “is there something wrong with me?” because I’m not in a relationship. Others contend with comments from family about our dating status and a desire for grandchildren.
Someone recently reminded me that Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Indeed, we were created from the beginning of time to live in relationship with one another. But how we are called to live together – whether that is in the context of marriage, religious life, with children, or as a member of an intentional community – must be prayerfully discerned.
Given the pressure from family, society, and faith community, is it really OK to be single? YES! Not only is it OK to be single, but the single years can be a time of abundance, freedom, and joy if we welcome it as a gift from God. The documents of Vatican II specifically mention that singles “can also greatly contribute to the holiness and activity of the church.” All Christians – single, married, ordained and vowed religious – grow in holiness by responding to God’s call. “All Christ's faithful, whatever the conditions, duties and circumstances of their lives … will daily increase in holiness, if they receive all things with faith from the hand of their heavenly Father.” (Lumen Gentium, 41)
Being single affords us ample amounts of time to pursue a career, develop new friendships, devote time to family, travel to places we’ve never been, cultivate our relationship skills, volunteer, dedicate time to prayer, and invest in hobbies we enjoy. Sometimes being single isn’t where we would like to be. We long to be in supportive loving relationships. So we seek intimacy through our friendships, with a romantic partner, in the context of family, within a faith community, and in communion with God through prayer.
At a recent gathering of young adults, we talked about loneliness and the single life. Loneliness is especially pertinent, but certainly not exclusive, to singles. While not glossing over our painful experiences, many of us were able to name the spiritual strategies we use during the lonely times. God has given us the gifts of solitude, friendship, laughter, service to others, prayer, community, and even Facebook. God is always inviting us into deeper relationship with God and with one another. By being attentive to the ways God is blessing us, our single lives can be a place to grow and thrive.
The conversation “Is It OK to be Single?” continues on Wednesday, September 21 at 7 p.m. at Notre Dame de Chicago Parish, 1334 W. Flournoy, Chicago. Sponsored by ReCiL Young Adults and Reflect Christ’s Light, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Strategic Plan.