Last Friday, as I sat at a “S’mores and Sex” Sunday School party, I realized something was terribly wrong. The party was not the problem: despite the provocative name, I was enjoying the tame but happy gathering of other graduate students and young professionals. Our Sunday School class has recently welcomed a new couple as our teachers, and they had suggested our class should have social events in addition to our regular Sunday-morning Bible studies. So far, so good. After mingling over s’mores, cider, and snickerdoodles, one of our teachers introduced the night’s discussion topic, “Singleness, Marriage, Sex, and Everything In Between.” He asked a number of questions about what it means to be a young adult--especially an unmarried young adult--in today’s churches. As I listened to my peers’ answers--which ranged from dating to family, hermeneutics to vocation, and beyond--I realized that my own concerns about how churches treat young adults were not merely idiosyncratic worries. The lawyer sitting next to me, the sociologist across the room, the seminary student--they also had realized something was amiss.
Even if I wanted to, I could not transcribe Friday’s long conversation. However, the refrain of our questions and stories was this: very few of our churches had taken an active interest in the spiritual formation of young adults, especially if they are unmarried.
Ours was not a bitter conversation, nor a session of complaints. We all lead meaningful, satisfying lives. Some there are involved in serious relationships, others who attend our class but were missing Friday are married. However, I heard many substantive, moving questions about how our churches train young adults to be part of the Body of Christ. I came home thinking about many of my own (usually-unvoiced) concerns about what it means to live the life I am living: the life of a teacher, a scholar, a daughter, a deacon, a friend, an unmarried twenty-something. Questions about what it means for you to live the lives you are leading. Hopes about how these lives are meant to come together.
On Saturday, I decided to start this blog. Admittedly, I am a little late to the blogging bandwagon, but my mother taught me to keep quiet until I have something to say.
I have a few things to say. I think you probably do, too. Somewhat to my surprise, I think I intend to write a blog about relationships, and about how life in Christ upsets many assumptions about our friendships, marriages, parenthoods, and more. For years I have been pondering the idea of “home,” and I want to use this electronic chronicle as a place to work out questions about what it means to be at home--with one another, with ourselves, and within our churches.
Many of the things I have to say come from my experiences and observations as a single person in a church culture that tends to worship the nuclear family, but I am not writing this blog only for single people, or for young people, or for women. Many of the things I have to say have been gleaned from my generous, and wise married friends. Indeed, much of what I hope to do here is pose questions that you, my friends, can answer, extend, and complicate.
I thought about several titles for this blog, including
“The Single Person’s Guide to Abundant Living” (too narrow in its audience, and it sounds like something from the self-help aisle at Barnes & Noble)
“The Married Person’s Guide to Keeping Single Friends” (again, too narrow, possibly snarky, and it sounds like a pet-owner’s manual)
“Radical Hospitality” (better, but “radical” is becoming dangerously trendy)
I have settled on “Letters from Home” because it best captures the sense of both sadness and hope I feel when I look around my church, my city, my country, and this world, hoping to glimpse the Kingdom of God. We have been promised a home, but we are not there yet. A letter signals both presence and absence: I can cherish the envelope in my hand, knowing that the sender also held it, but holding an envelope is not as sweet as holding someone’s hand. Letters are sent when distance interferes with complete communion. Letters provide our records of the early churches. I’m attempting a to send and receive a few letters from this promised, obscured, real, imagined, holy, humble home. I want to gather ideas, questions, and meditations on how we can create home for one another. Like my other ideas, this title has its dangers. To some, it probably seems sentimental. So be it. I don’t mind thinking of this blog as a kind of cross-stitched sampler I am hanging on the internet’s cluttered wall, and if “home” has become a sentimental word, I would rather fight sentimentality with honesty and laughter than with cynicism.
With all these hopes and questions in mind, I intend to post entries in the following categories:
Abundant Lives: Profiles of people whose lives overflow with grace, love, humor, strength, and courage
Making it Home: Ideas about what it means to practice hospitality, ranging from the lofty (Sabbath-keeping) to the mundane (bread recipes)
Life Undivided: Questions, thanksgiving, complaints, and meditations on what it means to walk alongside each other as fellow pilgrims
To review: I hope to use this blog as a forum for questions and thoughts about how life in Christ affects the way we live as friends, children, spouses, parents, siblings. Because of own stage of life, many of my posts will relate to my experiences as a young adult and an unmarried person, but I am interested in hearing from all my readers, even (especially!) if you are in a different season of your life.
Coming up next time…..”Making it Home”: How a Crockpot May Have Saved My Life
You have patiently listened to me thus far, and now I want to hear from you: 1) What does the word “home” mean to you? 2) Does your current church provide a sense of home for you? If so, how? If not, what could your church do differently?