Saturday, 8 June 2013

Chapter 5 - Single Again

Chapter 5 of my book is the one about which I know the least! I wanted the book to be relevant to everyone, whatever their stage or circumstances in life. Obviously my story is just that, it's mine, and I wanted people whose stories and journeys have been very different to still fine something for them in the book. Chapter 5 is therefore entitled 'Single Again', and it looks at what it's like to find yourself single for a second time in life, because you have been widowed or divorced. Because that hasn't been my experience, I relied a lot on the input and stories of others for this chapter, and I'm so grateful to everyone who contributed.

Lots of the people I spoke to said that they had found church a really hard place to be after they became single again. There's clearly a difference in circumstances from when people are separated or divorced and when they're widowed, but both can be hard in different ways. When people have got divorced, many said that sadly they found their friends in church were judgmental and critical. Often they felt that it became much harder to sustain friendships within the church, and that people stopped inviting them round socially. There was often a feeling that they had 'failed' in some way if their marriage had ended, and there may also have been a sense of being judged by those who felt that divorce was wrong for Christians. When people have been widowed, generally there was more of a sense of care and concern from their friends in church; however there was still also that experience of people not knowing quite what to do or say, and not knowing how to treat them any longer.

Alongside the 'snapshots' which are in every chapter, telling a little bit of people's stories and experiences of singleness, in this chapter there are 3 extended interviews with people who have found themselves 'single again', plus a poem written by a woman after her divorce. They are all remarkably real and honest about how it was for them, and about the ways in which the church and other Christians did and didn't help.

I really hope that this chapter is helpful to those who find themselves 'single again' at whatever point in their lives and for whatever reason. The chapter ends with a quote from a friend who filled in one of the questionnaires, and it pretty much says it all - "Jesus is still trustworthy, even when we have baggage!"

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