It is a strange irony that the seasons which carry the grand traditions of togetherness and family also are accompanied by estrangement for those not deeply connected in community. Singles often fall into this arena of relational disconnect, especially those whose job it is to care for children in buildings and rooms separate from the majority of the adult church population. So while the church runs through its paces, there lurks a potential for the single children’s pastor to do his or her job faithfully and well, while silently wilting inside.
It is clear that the single person must take the initiative to engage the community and be connected. This is a function of balanced personal responsibility. Yet, as is common with the paths of least resistance, the wear of the daily grind can cause her to neglect those lifelines, especially when the day job exerts extra demands, when home upkeep seems overwhelming, and when various other responsibilities crop up here and there, eating up the scant margin which normally would be given to pursuing community. Holidays make it worse, especially in church settings where programs must be executed, constituents must be satisfied, and a sense of personal responsibility demands excellence, often at the expense of relationships. Real, meaningful relationships. And while the ministry might seem to flower well for a time, the person executing that ministry risks doing so at the expense of her own health, in all respects.
Yes, there are strange ironies afoot. To the measure that the single children’s pastor brings others around her to support and share the burden, she will experience a heightened sense of proportion. But if she isolates and adopts the lone ranger ethic with only minimal volunteer support, then her days in ministry likely will be brief.
The holiday seasons need not be times of isolation. Rather, new paths must be blazed by taking initiative to connect deeply, authentically and redemptively with others. For my part, I opt not to bother those too busy to connect regularly. Instead I will continue to look all the more into the margins for those who will value and benefit from the effort, thereby creating community where there once was isolation.