“It is idle to say that men are of equal value. If value is taken in a worldly sense—if we mean that all men are equally useful or beautiful or good or entertaining—then it is nonsense. If it means that all are of equal value as immortal souls, then I think it conceals a dangerous error. The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is Love. It may be that He loves all equally—He certainly loved all to the death—and I am not certain what the expression means. If there is equality, it is in His love, not in us.
back into the swing of things…slowly. I’ve frankly had nothing worth writing over the last year. And as Ben Franklin said, one should “either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” So since I had nothing worth writing, I didn’t… 🙂
I have been thinking a lot, though. A dangerous pastime, indeed…
One of the many things I’ve contemplated is whether all singles, like me, sometimes long for meaningful touch. The medical community says that we need at least 15 instances of meaningful touch per day to maintain our health. Dr. Patricia Blackwell in her article, The Influence of touch on Child Development: Implications on Intervention, mentions historical episodes where orphan babies that weren’t held not only didn’t thrive but actually perished. So it would seem like a scholarly thing to say that meaningful touch is important to us.
I must say that wherein most of the time I am blessedly content in my single situation, sometimes all my hard work is upended by the simple desire to hold someone’s hand or to have someone hug me. Having said this, I do have my nephews and all of my friends that do hold my hand and hug me when they can, so I’m not looking for sympathy. What I’m looking for is confirmation–do you feel this way, on occasion, too?
I love getting comments on my posts from those who happen across my blog. Just recently a reader left a comment in response to an earlier post about how he does blame God for his singleness. Seeing as there may well be a lot of you out there who may overtly or covertly feel the same way, I thought that it might be a useful thing to talk about again.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. Psalm 31:9 (ESV)
All of us at one time or another throughout our lives have been horribly disappointed or monumentally let down. This does seem to be the nature of humanity: to at some time in our lives passionately hope for something only to be eventually disappointed. Perhaps it’s because of what we hope for, or how we express our hopes, or how persistently we cling to them against all odds that makes the disappoint in the end so intense. I am confident that we all have, or will, have this happen to us at some point in our lives.
Now, there are 2 basic responses to disappointment: 1). camping out at that point of disappointment and making the rest of your life about that issue, or 2). mourning the loss of that particular hope and then moving on.
Sometimes the intesity of the hope lost precludes ones ability to move on. You feel compelled to stay in that place of disappointment, circling it, staring at it, grieving it, wishing that it had worked out differently, creating worlds in your mind where it did work out differently. Mourning the loss of a hope or expectation is natural and, should I even say, healthy. I think a problem arises, though, when we refuse to let it go. When after a while the grieving becomes a habit that we are unwilling to give up, when we literally get STUCK in this place of disappointment and sacrifice our future to mourning this lost hope.
At that point it almost seems like we WANT to be stuck in our sorrow. That we want to warn all that pass of the vanity and futility of hope. Is this a ‘dog in a manger type response’ (eg. if I can’t have happiness neither can you) or do we really think that hope is dangerous and best avoided?
C.S. Lewis published a little book called A Grief Observed. In it are journal entries from the early days after he lost his wife to cancer. Now, as I understand it, Lewis never really wanted to get married but fell into it to help a young lady and her children. He fell in love with her though and was heart broken when she died. Imagine his grief–he was a happy confirmed bachelor who was ‘dragged’ into marriage, discovered an unexpected joy in it, then loses it again.
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I do not know. I sit firmly in the camp of those who have ‘never loved at all’ so I will have to let you read Lewis’ book, consider your own experience and come up with your own opinion on the matter.
I think that the important point to make here is that if you have been seriously disappointed in your life, being single when you dream of marriage, being alone when you dream of togetherness, being solo when all you want is a duo, remember this: if you stay stuck in the mire of your dead hopes things will never change. If you insist on camping out at that spot of disappointment, whatever you think of God, you will always be there, surrounded by your broken dreams and sorrows, and you will never fulfill any of your other potential. Unless you take courage and walk out the front door you will always be looking at the same four walls.
It does take courage to walk out that door, to move on. Especially if you’ve been stuck for some years. To move on means that you might be disappointed again, your hopes might be shattered again. But, then again you might find a promise fulfilled or joy in a different place than you expected. When you move on, instead of your lost hope being a weight around your neck, it can become an extra bit of character that gives you strength and courage and that will help you to stand strong–‘I went through pain and suffering but I made it through,’ or ‘it didn’t come to STAY, it came to PASS.’
We do not need to be stuck in our sorrow. We can choose to move on. And we will see things that we never expected and may even find joy in that which brought us the most sorrow.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
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!
I know both you and I have been going through the “valley of the shadow of death” lately and I know that you have many things that are weighing on your heart.
I have been praying for you, for your family, for your husband and his family. If there were anything else I could do, you know that I would be right there ready to go.
I know God has given me your friendship as a very special gift and that this friendship has helped me to make it through hard times, times when I felt alone, tired, lacking in faith. My prayer is that I could be able to help you like God, through you, has helped me.
This song says it all. This is for you.
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!
A few weeks ago we had visitors at our church, Pastor David and his wife. Pastor David is an amazing Christian man. His story is that he was born in Vietnam into a “very Buddhist” family. I’m not entirely sure what happened but through a miracle of God’s grace one of the members of their family’s life was saved (I think) and so the entire family became Christians.
I don’t personally know but I imagine it was a hard life being a Christian in a “very Buddhist” society. I’m pretty sure you would feel alone and at times find yourself in some tough situations.
Then, Pastor David and his family and friends were thrown in prison during the Vietnam war. I don’t even want to think what atrocities they suffered at the hands of other men. But eventually they were released and ended up in Canada a while later (praise God!).
I think we singles have a good idea of what it is like to be immersed in a society were we stick out, where we sometimes seem like we’re the only ones. We might even feel alone and find ourselves in some tough situations sometimes…
I think, though, that we can learn from Pastor David who has been through so much in his life.
The pastor of my church later told me that he had asked Pastor David to say the closing prayer for our service that morning but Pastor David said no.
I was surprised (seriously! What pastor turns down a chance to speak, let alone pray?).
So I asked my pastor why Pastor David turned him down. I was expecting to hear that he was worried about his english but instead Pastor Ralph said that he didn’t want to pray amidst our congregation yet because he always cries when he prays.
This man, who has been through well more than we can even imagine, cries every time he talks to the Living God! Our God of grace who has seen Pastor David through incredible times can still evoke in this man a intense feeling of gratitude to his Creator and sense of wonder at how such a great God can love one so undeserving.
Wow. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for our heartache and pain, for our aloneness and sorrow–that we might learn to truly appreciate what God has done for us and to give us a chance for God to teach us true gratitude.
Bless you, Pastor David!