Funny how an “innocent question” can leave one pensive, even on a very good day…
The largest conference hall was flooded with some of the finest brains and biggest names from across continents. It was the last and greatest day of a prestigious international gathering. Everyone was on their feet. The deafening sound of their prolonged applause spoke volumes. I had just delivered what was received as a mind-blowing presentation. Everyone wanted a hand shake, a hug, an autograph, my business card, a selfie, a word. The press was all over me and so were the paparazzis with blinding camera lights.
What a … day! I thought to myself with satisfaction as I headed to the airport for a homebound flight. Replaying the scene in my mind. I no longer felt as humbled as during the standing ovation. It was time to feel proud of myself. Girl, you did it! You are making history! I was smiling uncontrollably, walking as on air through the priority boarding. Taking my seat and humming my favourite praise song, I put on my ear buds and began jamming to some high praise. I was flying doubly high. Noticing one of the conference participants sitting next to me, I turned down the volume to engage my “fan”. All was going on pretty well when, in an honest bid to get to know me more, he asked the dreaded question. It was not nearly as tough the ones I had brilliantly answered earlier on during my presentation. However, I felt disarmed, lost for words and deflated. I managed to muffle out a response which didn’t seem to convince him – “God knows why,” I said in a broken voice, fighting back instant tears. I quickly excused myself and bolted for the bathroom. Lord why? I said, as I wept bitterly, looking into the mirror, feeling terribly sorry for myself. One moment I was on top of the world, and the moment this question comes up I am at my worst low. And … it’s a frequently asked question.
Questions should be easier to answer with age. Why is this harder? In many ways than we realise, life can be quite a question and answer session. Ever wondered how many questions the average adult asks a day? About a hundred? Well, it fluctuates with age, gender, temperament, profession and family situation and lifestyle. We answer to questions as simple as “what is your name?” or as hard as “what is the monodioxide value of 7 antiperspirants?” Okay, I made that up…please don’t try to figure out the answer.
Another thing about questions is that they vary with age. What do you want to do when you grow up? Almost every child has been confronted with this question. A fire fighter, a doctor…they yell excited. Or, “I don’t know” they shrug with just as much excitement and indifference. 😊 You’ve got to love kids.
I have sometimes wondered why the question “Are you saved?” was once my favorite pick up evangelism line. Now that I think about it, I get so much meaning out of the responses I got – “what do you mean?”, “Are you?” “Is anyone ever saved?”; or just plain “From what?”
“How old are you?” used to be easy to answer. “Sixteen years, three weeks and five days,” I’d say. Or “I am almost 18!” I would flaunt my age, wishing I was older. Now? Well, take a guess 😊. I hope you don’t think an age question brought me tears.
This particular question is different. I used to be pretty clever at it – ”I am still young, I am still at school, I’d like to have a viable source of income first.” I’d say in my defence.
Now I am not so young anymore. I had my first degree over a decade ago, I hold a Ph.D and have a “fairly good” job. A distinguished bachelorette, one would say. I love the Lord passionately and have from a tender age when I gave my life to Christ. Haven’t experimented with boys. I have heard people describe me as a “very good-looking lady,” an introvert to whom everyone listens, talented and busy in the Lord’s vineyard… even, “a complete “marriageable” package” (whatever that means)
I guess that is the very reason why people can neither hide their astonishment nor refrain from asking me the question I now dread – “How come you are still single?” It comes in fifty shades of gray: Do you plan on getting married?; Now that you are done with school and have a good job, when are you settling down?; Is there a man in your life?
Some would just assume that I am married and ask: How is your husband?; How does your husband feel about your accomplishments and frequent travelling?; How many kids do you have?
I get this question from a mixed multitude. The “Offensives” would say things like: who would have thought you’d still be single? You are not getting any younger you know? (like I forgot my age); Do you plan on having babies? The biological clock is ticking, and you are being selfish (Ouch! Just ouch!); Do you want to be virgin Mary? (as though Virgin Mary never got married, but I know what they mean)
The Church folks (African church folks) are more creative. They would ask questions like: Sister, isn’t the Lord speaking?; Haven’t you seen any “vision” [of someone to marry] yet?; Have you been praying, like REALLY praying for a husband?; What is God saying about your marital situation?
Friends would quip: when are you inviting us for the cake cutting? When is your big day? Haven’t you met Mr Right yet?
Parents, (bless their hearts) their probing comes from a place of concern and worry: When will I see my grandkids?; Are you sure you are not being too picky? There’s no perfect man etc etc..
Colleagues, who are professionally just as blessed as me, but married (unlike me), are more straight forward: Don’t you think it’s about time you thought about starting a family?; I am sure all the men must be afraid of you, you are “too educated.”
Irrespective of how the question is posed, it sometimes reduces me to tears: because, well it just gets me. It shouldn’t, but it just does. It almost feels like my attention was drawn to a menstrual blood stain on my white ball gown during a dance with the prince. You know menstruation is normal, but you still beat yourself as onlookers debate the incident; or, in this case, as I wrestle with the sharp contrast of my desire to have been married by now and the fact that I am still single.
Previously, it was easy to answer this dreaded question. In my early twenties my response was more natural. Mid-twenties – logical, Late twenties I got diplomatic; thirties – more spiritual and prophetic. I’d say things like “He makes all things beautiful in his time, God’s time is the best, God knows best …” etc
“God knows best” is the answer I gave to the man on the plane. Now I am in my room, trying to figure out what that really means. How else can I answer this question? Or.. God, will you just answer it for me once and for all?
Truth be told, I ran out of answers and I wish people would just let me be. I know they won’t (mostly because they care, hate or are just curious). So, I guess I should just be myself. At 30+ in a married world, owning your marital status is not always easy, and that’s OKAY. #ThisCupOfSingleness
Feel me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section here below. It helps to know that someone is reading or remotely relates to my experience with this dreaded frequently asked question 🙂 Will share a new post in two weeks. Please click on ” like and follow” if you would like to be notified of new posts.
Thank you for stopping by.
The Christian Bachelorette