I have an opinion about everything. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to share whatever I happen to be thinking. God created me to be a communicator. As the title character of the TV series “Monk” would say, “It’s a gift. . .and a curse.” As a communicator, I have always loved words, and I like to use exactly the right word to express an idea. This allows me to communicate my thoughts succinctly, but it is also where I run into a problem describing my “relationship status.” To say that I am single is technically accurate, but there are a lot of people, half of the population, who are single.
What kind of single woman am I?
I am often caught calling myself a spinster, which seems to make people uncomfortable, even though I am only talking about myself. I will sometimes take the time to explain what the word means, in order to point out that I am being accurate, not putting myself down. My Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary defines spinster as “a woman still unmarried beyond the usual age of marrying; an old maid.” When I call myself this, it is to define myself as someone who has never been married. It also expresses something about my age, since the average age for a woman in America to marry is about twenty-six (last time I looked it up online). Finally, the term has the inference of not having children; having children would preclude one from being considered a “maid.” So essentially, I want to have a word to describe myself which will differentiate me from those who have been married or those who are living a more worldly kind of single lifestyle. Spinster says in one word that I am single past my twenties, never married, no children.
Recently I have realized the real problem I have with calling myself a spinster, and it doesn‘t have anything to do with thinking little of myself. Rather, there is a kind of self-righteousness and pride at play in wanting to distinguish myself from other single women. God has convicted me that, in attempting to set myself apart from others, I am judging them. James 4:12 comes to my mind: “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” One could look at that passage and point out that I am not actually speaking evil against any one of my sisters when I call myself a spinster. But I know what is in my heart and the inferences I am making. In the previous chapter, James wrote, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do no boast and be false to the truth.” (v. 13-14) God knows and has shown me that there is judgment and boasting in my heart.
Is it ongoing feelings of rejection that make me want so much to distinguish my character and the nature of my singleness? Or, perhaps I am just human, looking to find significance in my life. Either way, I feel that I must retire the word spinster from my vocabulary, unless I actually speak of one who is spinning yarn. If I were an English teacher, perhaps I would draw a gravestone to emphasize that the word is dead to me. It is a small step in doing away with pride and seeking meekness in my character. In order to do this, I must find my significance in God. A.W. Tozer instructed in The Pursuit of God, “[The meek man] knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring.”
Lord, help me to erase my pride that cares so much how I am seen by others. Help me to live in the paradox that Tozer describes, knowing that I am nothing in myself, and yet precious in Your sight. Help me to see others as You see them and to show them Your love no matter what their situation or background.
No more spinning.