If you’ve never read Lauren Wiest’s xanga, you’re missing out on one of the most profound and entertaining pages out there.  She graduated from BFA two years ago, yet her wit, wisdom and cognitive reasoning put most of the adult sites I’ve read to shame.  She is transparent and luminous, and her words are as harsh as they are redemptive.

Before reading any further, you might want to take a look at Lauren’s Oct. 5 entry.  Follow this link to get there:


At the ripe old age of 19, Lauren has broached a topic few adults dare tackle.  And she has done it with her usual brand of Brillo-pad meets down-comforter meets 1000-watt-lightbulb.  That’s one of the reasons I love her.  She’s equal parts acerbic, comforting and enlightening.  A rare combo that makes her my hero.

She’s also just discovering the highwire balancing act that is being single in a world designed for couples.  Moreover, she’s living in a relationship incubator called “college”, which hatches thousands (millions?) of couples each year, particularly during the months of April and May.  Some are stillborn, others have the potential to endure through life’s ups and downs.  The most dangerous hatchlings are those that are doomed but still believe they have what it takes to survive.  They’re the ones for whom life’s first speedbump has the effect of a fortified wall.  They hurl themselves against the wall in a frenzy of hormones, hopes, and hallucinations and only come to their senses when staring up from the ground at the enormity of the insurmountable challenges ahead of them.  There’s a good chance being a nun would be a preferable fate to this kind of relationship!

(Note: this is not a self-portrait!)

But back to Lauren.  She mentioned in her xanga entry the well-intentioned comments of “couplized” friends, and I must admit that I used to be pushed dangerously close to the edge (ie. the abyss of petulant self-pity) by questions like, “What’s a nice girl like you doing still single?”  Furlough is always a whirlwind of such questions, often followed by elderly hands placing small pieces of paper in my palm on which they’ve scribbled the contact information of a handsome coworker, a friend’s son, or a “responsible young man” related to them.  One supporter went as far as to sign me up for six months of free eHarmony service!  What??  Support, apparently, comes in all varieties, the rarest of which is matrimonial sponsorship! 

Ah, Lauren, if such well-intentioned questions bother you now, just wait until you’re…uhm…”vintage”, like me!  (I used to call myself an old hag, which I thought was a cute/accurate description, but I’ve been threatened with bodily harm if I ever do so again–at least in writing.  So I must now limit my use of the term to verbal, therefore undocumented, exchanges, lest the self-defamation police be watching!)  Depending on my state of mind and current level of maturity, my answer to “What’s a nice girl like you doing single?” goes something like this:

Cynical:  “What–would being married make me a better person?”

Witty:  “Well, my husband’s parents decided not to have any children, so….”

Sarcastic:  “I blame it on my mom.  She’s been praying for decades and nothing has happened, so there’s clearly something very wrong with her prayer life.  Pray for her, will you?”

Geographical:  “I was born and raised in France.  Have you SEEN French men??”

Philosophical:  “I’d rather be single and wistful than married and wanting out.”

Honest:  “At an age when there might have been possibilities, I was still too wounded to enter a viable relationship.  And now that I’m a missionary…you know…I might as well be a potato.”  A romantic potato, mind you, a potato who still dreams and yearns, but a potato nonetheless.  All of life is a trade-off, and this is one of the few downsides of the life I’ve chosen.  There are many more upsides.

France’s version of “A few good men”.  Notice the nose-picker. 
I’m single…any questions??

Someone asked me recently when my life began to get “better”.  The only answer I could think of was this:  My life changed the moment I realized that my worth comes not from who loves me, but from how I love others.  If I can take my focus off wanting to be loved and invest my energies instead in loving others and loving them well, my life becomes something I can live not as a victim, but as a decider and an agent of positive change.  And there is no greater joy or satisfaction than in committing the surplus of affection God has given me to a Higher Cause.  As long as that is my goal, my life can be fulfilling and my singleness merely a minor point of my identity. 

Does that mean it’s always easy to be single?  Whether you’re Lauren’s age or mine, the answer is a resounding no.  Why do you think my DVD library contains such romantic drivel as “While You Were Sleeping”, “Message in a Bottle”, “Serendipity” and…sigh…”City of Angels”?  As fulfilling as it is to give affection to those who need it, it’s not the same as being truly loved in a committed, devoted, romantic way.  Nor will it compensate for our very human needs for touch and emotional intimacy–needs which must be acknowledged and kept alive (though not necessarily met) if we’re to be truly whole.  There’s irony there–that being whole requires recognizing a void.  Yet it is the recognition of that privation that keeps us human, sensitive, and compassionate.  The void will not kill us–it will only deepen us if we allow it.  As single women, of course, there is absolutely nothing we can do to influence who loves us and how.  What we CAN do is decide to love regardless of being loved in return. 

Bottom line?  I encourage you to invest in others.  Lauren is volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.  Other friends donate time to homeless shelters, pregnancy homes, youth groups, BFA dorms and one-on-one mentorship.  Whatever it is you do for others will give your passage on this earth an eternal value, one that often could not be attained in the same way if you were married or a mother.

May we all, whether we stand alone or in pairs, be sources of light for the world we touch.  And may we find in that usefulness and radiance a higher purpose for our existence.  We live in a world where love is bastardized and cheapened, but if we are able to redeem Love even in small ways in order to heal and empowe
r those in our care, God, our Creator, is pleased indeed.

Paris, 2006

PS:  On the off-chance that my mom might read this and be inclined to worry that I’m a hardened old hag…er…vintage single, I must add that though I am content with my current status, I remain open to change!   So go ahead, God.  Give it your best shot!    (Paging George Clooney, paging George Clooney…)


  1. michele, i haven’t met you yet (a surprise in this bfa bubble world) but have greatly enjoyed perusing your xanga entries. you are a gifted writer, indeed! (which just may lead me to read your book someday…) – rachel (wittlingen RA)

  2. Michely, it is always difficult to drum up the courage to write anything in response to your “annointed articulation”, but because I am one of your biggest fans, I am “compelled”!  First, hmmmm…Lauren is gifted in her seemingly gut level  written thoughts and questions and with such creative pictures and use of words, but then wasn’t she influenced by another amazing writer who is also one fabulously friendly frisuer!?!?  Your entry causes me to laugh, giggle, sigh, think, feel, and picture life with fresh insight and wonder.  Your “bottom line” is powerful!  And frankly the Biblical truth that there will be no marriage in heaven, makes me want to ponder more deeply God’s purposes on earth for marriage. You always make me think…I love you, friend.

  3. i’ll start working on getting my uncle (george clooney) to see you soon! sorry its taken a while! 😉

  4. George is not good enough for you. 

  5. perfectly and wonderfully said,… as always!! 😉

  6. What Mama G said is truth. . .who has been the biggest literary influence in my life, not even excepting Jane Austen of making-Colin-Firth-unbelieveably-sexy fame herself?

    I love you. Have I ever mentioned that?

  7. Totally agree with you about Lauren.  However, the two of you are hogging up much of the world’s wealth when it comes to communicating through the written word.  I had to look up “bastardized”.  An extended conversation with you next time we are in Kandern would be a delight.  Thanks for sharing any and all thoughts.

  8. “being whole requires recognizing a void.”  yes. 

    thanks for “articulating” on behalf of us “old maids”!!

    happy, single and willing to have God change my status 🙂


  9. hahaa… i know you and lauren both are speaking about serious issues in your, her, and HEY my life, but your humoresque cracks me up. and the thought of all single female missionaries as potatoes is pretty hilaroius as well..

    i met Yoko this summer. she is like 70 year old japanese woman who works as a missionary in Niger. not to say that when you are 70 you will be single (or japanese) but she encouraged and inspired me more than 99% of the people I know. she blesses all who see her by her patience and love from God. it was amazing to be around her. i am her adopted nephew! who hooo!!

    the point? i don’t know. i just thought i would through that i am the nephew of one my favorite people in the world that i haven’t known longer than a summer.

  10. Michelly, I am afraid THAT entry will not be on xanga, but only for the mature minded and for those that can actually discern that sex is one of the characters in a TV series…hehe!  Maybe you and I need to get together and think up all the possible lessons and parallels that can come out of conception…sounds fun to me!  How about Thursday night since we’ll be eating a lot of CHEEEEESE!  Who has to have sex in order to learn truths from it anyway?!  Hahahaha!  I love you, my romantic but ever so practical and serving friend! I wonder if my fairydust is working yet…I have actually heard tell there may be some intrigue afoot!  Oo La La!  hugs,”Reborn”

  11. Shoot, when do you go to school? can I wake you up and talk to you?  This twelve hour time difference sucks!

  12. I value your thoughts so much…thanks.


  13. wow….again there’s nothing i can say but “yur pretty much amazing!”. i rather enjoyed the “geographical” answer to the question and i TOTALLY agree. i also found out this week that we share a fascination with lampposts so i loved the paris pic! makes me miss home….

    as for the important stuff you said…thanks. yur an amazing inspiration to me every time i read yur xanga. yur wisdom and insights just keep coming and i know there are far more people other than me that benefit from them. thanks for sharing…

    another change of subject…as i type i’m catching up on (what else) star ac, listening to them sing last friday. can’t wait for the next showing!!

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