Like every circumstance in life, being a single guy has its ups and downs. If you’re going to seminary as a single guy, here are four things I think you have every right to expect:
1. Loneliness. I left a fantastic network of very close friends to come to seminary. That sacrifice ended up being bigger than I anticipated. For starters, you should know that there’s nothing wrong with feeling lonely as a Christian. According to Bonhoeffer in Life Together, “The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians. Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body… and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected fellowship of God’s spiritual-physical creatures.” Community comes back, but it comes back slowly. There’s no way you can expect new friends to immediately replace friendships that took years to mature back where you came from. Losing friends is real loss, and there’s no quick fix.
2. Married friends. Even married people need friends, and that has been the best news! Last week, I organized a trip to Coors Field to see a Colorado Rockies game and invited four couples. Turns out, being a ninth wheel wasn’t so bad! I’ve learned how much more difficult it is for seminarians’ spouses to uproot and move to a new place. Not only have they left all their friends, they don’t even have homework to keep them company while their spouses are at work or in the library. Becoming friends with married people and their spouses has been great. Again, I had four couples over to celebrate my birthday with me last night. I’ve gotten to share my struggles with loneliness and let them take good care of me.
3. Academic freedom. Because I don’t have a spouse to care for, I can stay at the library as late as I want! The professors’ suggested reading lists aren’t cruel jokes, but actual possibilities! But the best kept secret of seminary is probably the office hours. Within the first three weeks, I’ve been able to go above and beyond the call of the syllabus and sit for an hour at a time with two professors, hearing them clarify and expand on points they made in their lectures. If you’re excited to learn in seminary, doing it single is not a bad life.
4. Awkward conversations. Inevitably, there are those unfortunate times when you introduce yourself to a pretty girl in one of your classes before sneaking a ring peek. (For those of you who don’t know, the ring peek is a subtle but essential move wherein you check one’s left ring-finger to determine their relationship status.) So know this: the peek is important. Fortunately, though, most seminarians I’ve met have the maturity to know that friendship is important in seasons of change, and there are plenty of people, married or not, looking for new friends.
By Jack Franicevich Jack is an MDiv student at Denver Seminary. His interests range from the doctrine of the church, theologies of friendship and work, preaching, hymn-writing, and grassroots ecumenism to competitive table tennis, cooking for large groups, classical literature, and organizational development.