A few months ago, I asked a question in my IG stories about weddings. For single folks, they can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, we’re excited for our friend. But then there are some murkier feelings that can come up. Anxiety about how this change might affect the friendship. Envy about their happiness/chosenness. Fear over feeling left behind. There might even be some resentment over the expense of attending (flight plus solo hotel room, rental car, outfit(s), a gift from the registry, food whilst traveling, etc.).
So the question I asked was whether or not folks had any interest in a free worksheet that helps them emotionally prep for weddings. A whopping 94% of responses were affirmative.
I’ve attended more than a couple of weddings in my day, and been in a few. As much as I’ve enjoyed them, I also noticed some weird feelings creeping in. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to put words to those feelings. I remember the first time I did. There were many things conspiring against me as the party wound down. A combination of food and alcohol and jumping around the dance floor triggered severe reflux (yay being in my 30’s!). I was staying in an unfamiliar place, which always throws off my sleep schedule. And, of course, I was feeling all of the above feelings and making myself feel guilty about feeling those feelings.
That evening, I laid down and tried to go to sleep. All I could think about was how nauseous I felt, how tired I was, and this unmistakable feeling of being left behind because I was still single. That friend was entering the world of marriage. Their reality would become increasingly filled with experiences I didn’t share. How would that change the friendship? Would they eventually decide the friendship wasn’t worth the effort? Would our dynamic change (some married folks feel very superior about the fact that they “escaped” singleness)?
Mayhaps this is relatable to you. There was a time when I thought I was probably the only one who experienced this. For whatever reason, that night I took a chance and texted a couple of single friends. I articulated the basics of what I was feeling and asked if they’d ever felt that way. Both responded quickly, “Yeah, definitely.” We went back and forth talking about how to deal with it. We didn’t solve anything, but it was helpful to have someone to talk to and to know I wasn’t alone.
I’m not sure precisely what feelings weddings might bring up for you—good and uncomfortable. But one thing I’ve learned from my years of attending weddings and feeling a lot is that should-ing my way out does not work. What’s been helpful for me is to accept that, for better or worse, these feelings happen. With a bit of prayerful honesty, some planning, and heaps of compassion for myself, they didn’t have to send me spiraling about what a bad friend I must be or come out sideways (i.e. excessive drinking, taking everything personally, isolating, passive aggression, etc.).
There are more than a few blogs on the interwebs giving tips on how singles can survive weddings. These are filled with some solid tips. If you’re like me, however, you don’t just want someone to tell you what to do. You want something personalized and nuanced. That’s why I’ve created My Friend’s Wedding: A pre-wedding guided reflection for single Christians.
This free download empowers you to prayerfully wade through your feelings and brainstorm some strategies for how you’d like to respond to them. When we put words to our feelings, they go from being this big, scary, amorphous thing to something we can understand and work with. If you’re like me, this kind of work helps us not be blindsided by our feelings. But when they happen, even if they happen differently than we expect, instead of going with our knee-jerk reaction, we can say, “Oh, I know what this is. I’ve been through this before and I remember what’s helped in the past and what hasn’t.”
The goal isn’t to get it perfect or never feel uncomfortable feelings. The goal is to let those feelings drive us into deeper love and intimacy with ourselves, God, and others.
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