Notes on Love is a humorous and heart-felt look at being single and dating in the Church for a generation of Christians wrestling with what it means to love and be loved today.
Lauren Windle is a public speaker and journalist, published by Mail Online, Huffington Post, The Sun Online, Fabulous Digital, Marie Claire, The Star, Church Times and others. On 22nd April 2014 she got clean and sober from a cocaine and alcohol addiction and became a Christian five days later. She has a Masters in Addiction Studies, runs a charity recovery course for people struggling with addition and in 2018 gave a TEDx Talk about her personal story of addiction and recovery. She is also the proud owner of a Blue Peter badge and has her grade four ice-skating. You can connect with Lauren @_lauren_celeste on Instagram and Twitter. Notes on Love is her first book.
The subtitle of your book, 'Being Single and Dating in a Marriage Obsessed Church', is an interesting one! Was this a result of frustration that you couldn't find a partner yourself or was it the feeling of pressure from the church that you were 'still single and why'?
In my experience, and in the experiences of the people I interviewed for the book, everything in the church points towards marriage. From the huge celebrations for engagements, weddings, christenings and anniversaries to the fact that church leaders as often always married men. While no one has said it out loud, the impression single people has been left with is that life is better as a pair. That is incredibly frustrating given that Paul explicitly says how wonderful it is to be single and that Jesus himself never got married.
Many people in the church ask questions about why people are still single and offer well-meaning advice on meeting people or ‘being less picky’. It all just adds up to people feeling inadequate on their own.
Do you think there is a stigma attached to those who go through life being single without ever dating anyone let alone get married?
Absolutely. Despite there being biblical president for staying single, people can often assume the person is single because they can’t find a partner. It’s so rare to hear teaching on the advantages of staying single, that I think a lot of people don’t stop to ask themselves what the right path is for them. Before we ask ourselves what kind of husband/wife we want, we should all ask ourselves if we want one at all.
Do you believe churches can help in ways that perhaps they don't currently?
Every church is different and some have brilliant social programmes connecting and encouraging single people. From the conversations I had and the research I did, it seemed that those churches were fewer and further between. The fact is, with married people running churches, they often don’t realise how isolated single people can feel.
I’ve heard stories of people walking away from their churches and their faith entirely because of the hurt that they feel around being single.
I think every single church would benefit from actively asking themselves how they support single people. If church is family then who are your single people spending Christmas and Easter with? When was the last time they had an invite to your house for dinner? When was the last time that you went wild for one of their achievements, a new house or job perhaps – rather than only celebrating relationship milestones?
Is this book just for single people or will others find it useful too?
I hope that single people will be encouraged by the book and feel heard and understood – as well as entertained. But I think everyone could benefit from a better understanding of the Christian single experience – particularly church leaders. I see this as an amazing time in history where we are all being invited to listen to the experiences of others and learn from them. It would be a shame if someone didn’t engage with the issue because it didn’t affect them personally.
You mention how you can find true love with yourself, your friends and family and above all in Christ. Has your experiences tested your walk with the Lord? Can you see how God has moulded you into a stronger person as a result? Do you still question why?
I don’t think that my being single tests my walk with God – although this is definitely something some people I interviewed for the book reported to me. What I do find very difficult is disappointment. This is something I make clear as I discuss my experiences in the book.
That said, I’ve had a complicated history and am in recovery for drug addiction, another thing that I mention in the book. So, it would take more than a break-up to rock my belief that Jesus has got me. I’ve seen him work miracles in my life and bring me through so much. I know God’s will in my life is always going to be better than my own because I tried it my.
I don’t ask God why. I tell him thank you.