Here’s the third in my Summer Wedding Series. You started by adjusting yourexpectations. Then you learned some evasive tactics for those awful questions and comments pertaining to your singleness. Now, onto the dreaded bouquet toss…
I am eternally grateful for Beyonce’s song “Single Ladies.” No, it hasn’t inspired me in life or encouraged me in some dark moments. Rather, it has been an aid to me at weddings. But let me start from the beginning. As a single woman in her thirties, I have gone to my fair share of weddings. The older I’ve gotten, the more I have come to dread the bouquet toss. Something about that tradition just frustrates and annoys me. I mean, going to a wedding as a single person tends to be challenging enough. Another wedding and I’m not the bride. Then, there are the awkward questions or the misguided words of “encouragement.” So, by the time the bouquet toss comes along, I’m feeling pretty insecure and blue. Then, they parade the single people out in front of everyone and expect us to act the fool in pursuit of the bouquet. It’s become difficult to avoid the toss as a single person. Everyone’s keeping their eyes out for you, sometimes literally pulling you onto the dance floor. I say no!
I’ve developed some strategies over the years to avoid this debacle. My ear has become finely attuned to the DJ starting to call all the single women to the floor. On a good day, I can be half way to the restroom* by the time he’s finished his sentence. However, since Beyonce dropped “Single Ladies”, I was given another ally in my quest to avoid the bouquet toss. The moment I hear that song, I know that something fowl is afoot and I can be safely in the ladies room by the time the call is made.
Weddings are strange social gatherings and they tend to stir up all my insecurities. I love getting to celebrate my friends, to stand with them and give my support to their marriage. Yet, in the midst of all that goodness, the sadness that is stirred in me is a fear that I will never get married. The fear that I am called to singleness for life.
In the last few years, I’ve learned and taught on vocation. Sometimes, we tend to see vocation solely as our life purpose, when actually the true meaning reaches much wider than that. The word vocation comes from the Latin word “vocare,” which literally means to call. We often use the term solely for those who are pursuing jobs within the church or other areas of ministry. Yet, as Christians, there are basic ways of life that each of us is called into. We are called to love God. We are called to love others. These are not callings that are specific to some people, but are for the entire church. Another aspect of vocation that I explored was the immediate call. There are jobs, people, places, stages of life that we are called to in this moment. These calls may not be for life, but they are true for today. An example would be the calling into parenting a toddler. Your life call most likely will not be to parent a toddler, but in the present, this is a significant calling on your life. We can often see all callings as being locked in for life, when in actuality they at times only span a season of life instead.**
One of the hotbed topics when it comes to vocation is that of the celibate life. Even as I type these words, I can’t help but think of nuns and priests. In the scriptures, we see Paul engaging in his own calling to celibacy, while he encourages others likewise. I think one of the greatest fears of singles is this specific call, because it can feel like a life sentence. However, this particular vocation can actually be seen in two different realities. One is a life-long call to the single life, while the other sees singleness as relegated to the immediate season of life.
Yesterday, I was walking across a lake by my house and talking with God about my singleness. As I stopped and looked across the water, I remembered the creation narrative in Genesis, (See Genesis 1). After each day, the Lord declared what he made as good. In my own life, God has placed me in a season of singleness. And I believe (to some extent) that he calls it good. This is not the good that I envisioned, but I want to learn to trust in what he calls good. For me today, singleness is good. This is my part of my vocation for this day.
While this recognition of goodness does not make my singleness automatically turn into a joyful gift, I am grateful for the little reminders that God is with me and cares about my life. Beautiful walks across a lake. Family and friends who love and care for me. And Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”, giving me a rhythmic heads up when bouquet danger is on the horizon.
*The restroom is my designated haven during bouquet tosses. It’s a legitimate excuse and lets me avoid having to explain why I don’t like the bouquet toss.
**This section on vocation was inspired by the teachings of Dr. John H. Coe, Institute of Spiritual Formation, at Talbot School of Theology