Connect, Engage!!

So, I’ve been away for awhile…thanks to all of you who took the time to encourage me to come back.  We all need encouragement!

Well, then–what have I been thinking about all this time?  Connectedness.

A friend and I were talking a few weeks ago about being single women (sorry, guys–this does apply to you, too, in a slightly different way!  Keep reading!) and I got to thinking about how we relate to those around us.  On seeing two men meet for the first time, often the first question that is asked is “What do you do for a living?”  For two women meeting for the first time, the most common first question by far is “Are you married?” or variants of the same (“Where’s your husband?” or “which of these is your man?” etc).

Now, this is not a hard question to answer.  “Oh, I’m not married.”  But this now puts the other women in a tough place.  She relates to other women, and has likely been related to for much of her life, through marriage and possibly kids but if she is talking to a single women she may feel out of her depth.  What usually happens, sisters, AFTER you say that you aren’t married?  “Oh, that’s too bad.  Don’t worry, It’ll happen one day” and then they’re off to find someone that they can comfortably relate to.  And we are left on the sidelines…again…

Because of this we tend to feel unconnected.  Now this is mostly not OUR fault but really that of society and the church for laying such an emphasis on family that they have almost excluded those who are unmarried in their midst.  But note that I said MOSTLY not our fault…

We need to take on the responsibiliy of ENGAGING people.  When that new acquaintance asks the inevitable “Are you married?” question we need to speak truthfully (“No, I am not married.”) but don’t stop there.  They are trying to relate to you, to connect to you, so help them out.  They don’t know what else they can talk to you about so show them.

“No, I’m not married.  BUT there is something that I’m quite passionate about and that is…(insert interest here).”  It can be anything that you are interested in–working with the youth, cooking, golf, reading classic novels, painting, hanging out with your adorable nephews, running, jumping up and down while your hair is on fire…whatever.  Just give them SOMETHING with which to connect with you.  ENGAGE their interest.  The ball is in your court–go in for the point!  They have unwittingly opened the door for you to connect to them through something other than marriage or children.  Take control of the moment.  You could even ask them about their family and kids (something that is likely near and dear to their heart!).  If you engage them it is more likely that they will feel comfortable talking with you again as they have something to ask you about.  “How are your nephews?”  “How is youth going?”  “I’ll bet the rain has put a damper on your golf game!”

We as singles need to help people out and show them how to relate to us.  Then we will develop meaningful connections (which is essential for singles) and  will perhaps teach others how to relate to the next single person they meet.

Reach out and get connected!  Don’t leave it to others to involve you!  Just dive in!

Hold Me Jesus…

Temptation hits all of us, even Christians.  What can we do?  Listen to Rich Mullins as he talks about one of his experiences in the following “Beaker wouldn’t snore. Hold me Jesus”.

 

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Matthew 26:41 NIV Jesus is giving us advice about how to overcome temptation.  He was tempted and He knows that you, too, will be.  Prayer is powerful.  Remember Rich Mullins’ prayer the next time temptation creeps into your life.

HOLD ME JESUS
By Rich Mullins

Well, sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small
So hold me Jesus,
’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart
So hold me Jesus,
’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees
And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin
I’m singing
Hold me Jesus,
’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

Be a Miracle For Someone Else

Be a Miracle!

Nick Vujicic

My new Christian Hero is Nick Vujicic.  This man is the personification of using choice to overcome circumstances.  You see, Nick was born with no arms and no legs–but what what a message he has for us!  Nick believes that everyone is made by God and has a purpose, despite what people tell them or even what they themselves believe.  He uses his brokeness to show us how to have hope in this world of brokeness.

I know this video is long (almost 15 minutes) but please persevere to the end.

You, too, can be a miracle to someone else, regardless of whether you are fat, skinny, short, tall, single, married, rich, poor, man, or woman.  Or have no arms and legs.  Go and be a miracle!

Good or Best?

Illustration of the Cheshire Cat from the orig...

Illustration of the Cheshire Cat from the original edition of Alice in Wonderland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you [darn] well please.  And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.
P. J. O’Rourke

There once lived a girl named Abigail.  She was a girl much like you or I, who lived in a place much like where we live.  Abigail loved to hang out with her friends and do fun things together.

One day, Abigail’s best friend announced her engagement!  Abigail was so excited for her friend.  It was her dream to one day marry and have kids and play the happily ever after card, so she was excited for her friend.  Abigail was the Maid of Honor at the beautiful wedding that seemed like a fairy tale to her.  ‘I can barely wait my turn,’ she thought.

Not long after, her older sister announced her engagement.  Again, Abigail was the Maid of Honor and the wedding sparked excited thoughts of what her wedding would be like.

Soon her neighbour was married, then her colleague at work, her friend at the gym, her mother’s best friend’s daughter…Abigail began to feel differently at each new wedding.  Instead of excitement for the bride, she started to feel a sense of loss, a sense of disappointment.  She was still hoping to be a member of the happily-ever-after club but it seemed to be taking so long!

She waited and waited and waited.  She called out to God, ‘When is it my turn?’  All she heard was the sound of silence.

She met a young man.  He was great but eventually he moved on.  Then she met someone else who she thought was nice but then he moved on, too.  She finally found herself in a relationship with a man that she was not really sure about.  He seemed OK but for some reason she felt uneasy about him.  Then, one wonderful day, he asked her to marry him!  Finally! she thought.  She said yes immediately before she could talk herself out of it…

*   *   *   *

“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.” 
―    Lewis Carroll,    Alice in Wonderland

This post is going to address a tricky issue.  It is the issue that originally triggered my desire to start this blog:  the issue of contentment and good enough vs best.

Abigail is actually a collection of about 4 or 5 Christian people that I know who have gotten married late in their lives.  Please don’t get me wrong–I am not trying to condemn people who get married.  I would offer my sincerest congratulations to those who have found the one God has created them for.  My purpose is to caution and encourage those who are waiting for that special person from God.

In the story above Abigail was getting worried–it was taking so long for her to meet someone that she could marry.  I think she got into trouble because she didn’t know where she wanted to go anymore, except that she wanted to be married.  I’ve seen this in real life especially in some of the women that I’ve known. There seems to be 2 things present in this situation–a sense of urgency and a belief that good enough is OK.

The sense of urgency translates into a lack of trust in God’s plan in your life.  I know we all have our plans for our lives (especially we Canadians!) and I know we want to feel a sense of control in our lives but remember God knows best and His timing is best, too.  As Billy Graham has said, “You are where you are because God has placed you there.”

What do I mean about ‘good enough being OK’?  Well, this is in contradistinction to ‘best’.  What has God promised us?

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 NIV

God doesn’t want us to have ‘good enough’ but He wants to give us ‘best’.  The Creator of the universe wants you and I to have the bestI am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10b KJV

Abundant life–not just a good enough life.  Remember who you are in the eyes of God!  He gave His own Son to die for us so that we might have what He has prepared for us!

But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV

I encourage you to wait for what is the best, what has come from God.  If you take that which is good enough, you may well miss that which is best.  As I mentioned above, I have seen some Christian singles whom I suspect may have settled for ‘good enough’ and who have, in certain cases, fallen into unhappiness, heartache, divorce and even violence.  And, no, it is NOT my business to comment on whether you are settling for good enough.  It’s really none of my business at all.

However, my heart aches for those beautiful Christian singles who have to live with the consequences of being ‘happy enough’ or their life being ‘good enough’.  All I do want to do is to caution you to truly seek God’s direction when you are in these situations.  Don’t be in a hurry; don’t settle for ‘good enough’–ask God for patience and contentment and for His direction.  Seek Godly counsel.  Talk to those around you–you are not alone.  God loves you so much and only wants the best for your life that He may be glorified through you.

Please, friends, church and family of singles–help us to find God’s best for us!

The Sound of Tears

This morning I got up and went for a run outside.  The weather here has been very snowy, cold and overcast so the blue sky and heavenly sunshine were a joyous sight for snow blind eyes.  Last night I hung out with The Nephews and we had a blast:  auntie got to snuggle with one and hold the hand of the other at various points during the night (for those who aren’t sure, these are the things that make aunties happy).

So, it was with great sorrow that I heard about the tragedy in Connecticut.  If you, like I, live under a rock, then here is a very quick break down of what happened:  a man entered an elementary school and killed twenty 6 and 7 year old children and six adults, after killing his mother at home.  He apparently ended his killing spree by taking his own life.

How can such evil exist in this world?  To take the lives of children?  Of those caring for the children?  Of his very own mother?

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.  Romans 1:28 – 32 NIV

Yes, to murder children one must have a depraved mind.  I cannot conceive of any other explanation.

But what is our response?  As a single person I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a child.  In medical literature it is cited as being one of the single worst things for a family to experience.  But as an aunt I can imagine at least a little (I’m too much of a chicken to think about it too much) what it might be like to lose a nephew…

Please let us gather together and pray!

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Ephesian 6:18 NIV

Firstly, for God’s strength and comfort for all of those involved.  Remember the parents, the siblings, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles, the neighbours, the friends.  Remember the people who happened to be there or who came across this tragedy immediately after it happened.  Pray for the emergency workers (police, EMS, firemen) who had to wade in amongst the aftermath and rationally do there jobs.

Secondly, pray for the family of the young man who has committed these tragic actions.  Remember, he also killed his mother and she likely had parents and siblings and aunts and uncles and friends and co-workers and neighbours.  Pray especially for them as they have to deal with the pain of loss but also the stigma of their relative/neighbour/friend being the cause of such loss.

Thirdly, cry out to God that His Kingdom will come to this earth so that we no longer have to face such pain and terror but that His love would overcome.

Please, make a point of getting your friends and neighbours together to pray.  Pray that those who don’t know God and the mercy He has shown us through His Son would come to know Him (how could one go through this without Him?).  Pray that those who know Him will draw closer to Him.  Pray that those around these families will see God at work.

Remember, God knows what it’s like to lose His Son to madmen…

The World’s View of Singles

I could have called this post “the Media’s View of Singles”.  The media has a dual role in our world today, firstly as a reflection of the world’s viewpoint and secondly as an influence over the world’s viewpoint.  I wanted to make this more personal though:  we are part of this world so I have opted to entitle this post as I have.  For the purposes of this post, let’s consider the world’s view and the media’s view as one and the same, although this is not strictly true.

According to the eMarketer blog (post from 29 March 2011), in 2010 TV advertising spending in the US grew 9.7% to $59 billion (divide by 10 for the approximate Canadian figure).  Fifty-nine billion dollars…wow…Just from TV ads, not including magazines, on-line, etc.  Obviously somebody out there believes that the media has some influence over us.

If this is the case, we really should see what the media is saying about us singles.  Alas, to understand the world’s view on singles we need to start with their view on non-singles.  Yes, I know, this is supposed to be a blog for singles, about singles, by singles but sometimes we have to at least mention those marrieds out there.

If you are oldish like me you may have perhaps heard of some of the TV shows from the 50s, 60s and 70s, like Leave it to Beaver, the Partridge Family, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Addams Family, I Love Lucy, Green Acres, etc.  They all centred on family life and some of the trials and hilarity that comes to married couples.  Even some of the shows from the 80s, like the Bill Cosby Show, focused primarily on family life to entertain their fans.

Today’s TV shows, however, seem quite different.  There are a few that do centre around families (Everybody Loves Raymond, the Sopranos) but they are in the minority and don’t quite have the same message about the importance of family as the shows from the past. If you look carefully, what you will see instead of shows about family are a whole lot of cop shows and medical shows (and vampire shows…).  Instead of being married, most people in these shows are single, separated, divorced, or living together.  What does tie them together is that their main characters spend a considerable amount of time looking for love.  Unfortunately, they seem to be “looking for love in all the wrong places” to quote Johnny Lee.

“I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”
―    Marilyn Monroe

This leads us to a crucial point:  what is the world’s view of love?  From watching TV, listening to music and reading magazines we get the idea that love is a feeling that one gets about that special someone, and once that is gone, then there is no more love.  I think this is why we have so many disappointed, unfulfilled and searching people, both Christians and non-Christians, in our world.  Because this is not what love is.

First Corinthians 13:4 – 8, 13 says, 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. NIV

I see no mention there of particular feelings about a person, but what it does mention are characteristics of true commitment which is a choice, not a feeling. These are also characteristics of God–this is how He loves us.  How do we show love to God?  We obey Him (John 14:15, plus many other places).  There is no talk of a warm, fuzzy emotion that makes your heart race and your pupils dilate.

So, you see, if the world has an aberrant view of love, it will skew their view of relationships and, therefore, of singles AND marrieds.

They are correct in one aspect, though, and this is that our world is all about love.  Not eros, or sexual love, as our media would like us to believe, but agape, or Godly love.

I had a non-Christian friend of mine a few years ago tell me that she had finally figured me out–she said that I was ‘asexual’.  This surprised me somewhat and did make me giggle (I couldn’t help it!  She was comparing me to a plant or some forms of fungi–you have to laugh at that!).  But this really does show a lack of understanding about me.  I like guys.  I have had crushes on male movie actors, television actors and even some of the real people around me.  I am not asexual, rather a heterosexual female that chooses to not practice pre-marital sex.

Our world cannot understand us singles because they are so focused on love between people as being the ultimate fulfillment in their lives. We Christians should know better, but that $59 billion advertising budget has gone a long way to deceive us.

Colossians 2:8(NIV)

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, that depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Christians should focus on God’s love first, then on loving others.  Isn’t this how Christ answered the Pharisees in Matthew 22?

35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We can’t expect the world to understand something they don’t believe, but by understanding what the world does believe about us and how it is thus reflected in the media today we can hopefully keep ourselves from being deceived by this world and to start living more fulfilled lives.  If enough of us lived the truth about love in this world (meaning that God IS love), this could bring about a revolution in the way the world thinks and then perhaps in the way the media displays.  It’s just a thought.

We Are Not Contagious

We single people are not contagious.

Admittedly, as C.S. Lewis says, if we are Christians we do have the ‘good infection’.

He (Christ) came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has–by what I call ‘good infection’.  –from Mere Christianity (C.S Lewis).

Yes, we have the ‘good infection’ of life in Christ, however, we don’t have anything else that’s catching;  specifically, our ‘singleness’ is not contagious.

Why do I say this?  It seems to me that in our churches singles are looked at a little by their non-single friends and church family members as if they have the plague–people feel uncomfortable around us, not sure what to say.  They seem reluctant to invite us to their homes, or out for dinner, or to various events. They seem unsure of what to do with, or say to, the one without the ‘plus one’.

Listen carefully, non-single friends, family and churches–if you invite us to your home your husband/wife will NOT leave you, your parents won’t divorce, and your fiance will NOT die (you also won’t have to throw out the dishes that we touched, and you won’t have to be decontaminated after we leave).

I must say that have been very blessed by those around me.  My best friend and her husband have invited me out with them on Valentine’s Day!  My church family invites me out frequently and they even invite me into their homes. 🙂  My brother and sister-in-law always include me in outings and dinners and family times.  I have adopted many nieces and nephews along the way and God has blessed me through them and, in turn, has used me to minister to them.  God has been very gracious to me and has blessed me greatly throught the ministry of my family, friends and church family.

So I encourage you, family and friends of singles–invite them to your home, out for dinner, to games nights.  Talk to them about whatever comes to mind.  Don’t be afraid of doing or saying something ‘wrong’, just treat your single friends as you would anyone.  Remember them around the holidays and during the regular times of the year.  Include them in your family.  You will benefit from their involvement and you will be ministering to them in a significant way.

Do remember that the term ‘single’ also includes those who used to be married and for whatever reason are no longer so.

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
―    Albert Camus