I really wanted to finish this book this weekend! Success!
Two weeks ago, I was at work and suddenly wanted to read a book on singleness. If I remember right, I had been mulling over the concept of accepting this season of life as semi-permanent--and how does that affect how I live?--and how does one do it well?
So I went online looking for a book. I had one in my wish list, but it mentioned something about Sex and the City culture, and that's so not the culture I am surrounded by. I wanted something more relevant to me who does not work in a high rise or wear high heels (like, ever). So I searched Amazon. I bypassed any books that were theological addresses by married folk. Right now I wanted something for singles by a single. And preferably an older single.
Well, Party of One isn't written by an older older single--she's 29 at the time of writing--but otherwise, I think it was exactly what I was looking for.
Negatives first. I skipped one of the three chapters on sexuality because it looked like it was not going to be edifying for *me*. The other chapters on that subject were confusing to me--I couldn't understand what she was trying to convey. Even she said that her editor insisted she stop and define what "sexuality" means. At one point, I became very frustrated--and scribbled my frustration in the margins--as she seemed to keep blurring, or at least avoiding distinguishing, the very clear black and white lines we have on the subject in Scripture. So there is a hint of possible liberalism in the book, and also, later, some of what would be called feminism.
Positives: Joy Beth Smith has her finger on the pulse of today's Christian singleness! The first third of the book was a constant YES! THAT! Mmhm! Preach it! 😛 Party of One is the most accurate summary of current Christian singleness I have read apart from blog posts. Her style is a discussion. It is not meant to be didactic, though it is, but not in a theological, or removed/distant, or me-when-I'm-feeling-spiritual, sense. She desires marriage, and her vulnerability in expressing that in the pages is a bit astounding. But she also pushes for living life NOW. She also brings up assumptions we have--our common church culture background stuff--and even if you disagree with her conclusions, it's nice to have all those things brought up and acknowledged.
So, in summary, I was encouraged by reading something so true to our lives, and I did a lot of underlining and note scrawling. She challenged some of my thought processes (or autopilots) about singleness. I'm glad I read it.
"We live our single lives, and we give ourselves permission to hope for more. We take the vacations that might have been more fun with someone else, but we snap pictures and try the fried alligator and have a fabulous time regardless. Marriage shouldn't be the gatekeeper to happiness and life experiences." --Joy Beth Smith, Party of One
"Even if you don't get married, you'll be okay. I know you want marriage and kids, but no matter what, you're still going to be okay. You may have unmet desires, but life goes on." --Party of One, quoting "Gina" (p. 155)
"Success in this world is the woman who lives her whole life longing for marriage, remains single, and dies more convinced than ever that God is good, with 'Glory, glory, hallelujah' as the last words on her lips." --Joy Beth Smith, Party of One, p. 155
"[Y]ou finally get up the courage to voice one of your deepest fears to some close friends: 'What if I never meet someone?'
"And then someone responds too quickly, almost flippantly, 'Oh, you'll get married.'...
"A husband is not a sure thing.
"We can't continue to put prophecies in the Lord's mouth and call it comfort." --Joy Beth Smith, Party of One, p 11, 14.
"Instead of leading with 'Oh, are you seeing anyone?' I'd love to be engaged in conversation by being asked, 'What are you doing for the kingdom? What are you passionate about?" p. 212 <--these are great questions for all of us to ask each other, no matter marital status!