I Blame God…

Grief

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.
Tennyson

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.

 

Transforming Water to Wine? Or to Tea?

I was just reading Billy Graham’s Decision magazine for July – August 2014, leaving my favourite part until the end, the very last page called “Ruth’s Attic.”

Ruth and Billy Graham

Ruth, of course, was Mr. Graham’s late wife and she had a collection of some of the most interesting and moving stories from average every day people.

The one that I read today is of particular interest to those who may not have exactly what they want in life, or who feel that they’re lacking in something. Please ponder the following story.

In one of F.W. Boreham’s books, he tells of an old Scottish woman living alone and very poor.

But she carefully tithed what little she had and gave to the church. When unable to attend service, she expected a deacon to drop by and collect her offering. The deacon knew well she could not afford it, but knowing also that she would be deeply offended if he did not collect it, he was careful to stop by.

It was late afternoon one day when he made his visit.

Old Mary was sitting near a window having tea.

“The tithe is on the mantel,” she said, greetings over. “Won’t ye sit and have a cup of tea?”

The deacon sat, and when Mary passed him his cup, he looked down in surprise and exclaimed:

“Why, Mary! It’s only water ye have!”

“Aye!” said old Mary. “But He makes it taste like tea!”

“Tea Time,” Taken from “Legacy of a Pack Rat,” By Ruth Bell Graham. ©1989, The Ruth Bell Graham Literary Trust.  I found this article on http://www.billygraham.org (http://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/july-august-2014/tea-time/)

Oh, that we might have the faith of that old woman!  To be content regardless of our situation!

Keep up the good fight!

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!

GOD’S NOT DEAD

“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
St. Augustine

I just watched the movie, God’s Not Dead, and boy was it a good one!  What I particularly liked about the movie was the way that each character did what was right despite their family and friends and what must have seemed like the whole world standing against them.  They spoke the truth.

Cheers to each actor who was in the movie and to each person who has been involved in a similar situation (they’re commoner than you would expect).

I had a professor in my undergraduate science degree who was a Christian in what I would describe as the ‘bastion of atheistic faith’ aka my university (there were not many professors who professed Christianity at this great place of learning).  He was a great teacher but alas I learned later, after finishing the class and moving onward, that he was no longer teaching at my university.  From the rumours, it was because of his stance on creation.

This was confusing to me at the time because our university moto was straight from the Bible:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8 NIV

My friend, Mandie, also told me that her brother, while in grade school, was asked to write a paper on worshipping the devil.  When he refused he got into a lot of trouble.  Kudos to him for standing up for what he believed in even at such a young age!

Freedom of speech would seem to be withering away in our western world.  Don’t let this be the case!  If the Spirit is telling you to talk, do it.  No one can argue with your testimony–it’s your story.  Tell them how God is not Dead–how could He be?  You just spoke to Him 5 minutes ago!!  Speak Truth and He will defend Himself.

I would probably re-write St. Augustine’s quote:

The Truth IS a lion (the Lion of Judah).  Speak the Truth and He will make His defense.  All you have to do is let Him loose!

Here are the Newsboys, with the heavenly voice of Michael Tait, proclaiming God’s Not Dead! (you just have to love the enthusiasm of the drummer, Duncan Phillips!)

Dear Mandie

Dear Mandie,

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.

Francesca Battistelli, Angel by Your Side

Are You Down for a Moment?

So for the last 8 months I have had my hands full with a significant amount of circumstance related stress/spiritual warfare.  It has been a really interesting time for me.  I’ve had to think and reassess and ponder and try to come to terms with how things were in my life.

I was in a bad place at one point and at the right time my friend, Mandie, sent me a video.  I had heard Mandisa’s song, Overcomer, but I had never seen the video.  I was “overcome” by the video.

The video includes former U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Captain Mark Kelly, Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton, and Good Morning America host Robin Roberts.

According to the Christian Post (online, Justin Sarachik, 07 Oct 2013), in a press release Mandisa said the following about the people highlighted in the video.  “We chose each of them because when we thought of who has been an example of an overcomer in a very public battle, it is hard to imagine anyone more appropriate than the amazing people in my video. They have all fought, and continue to fight victoriously. I pray that sharing their inspirational stories throughout the video will leave people saying, ‘If they can do it, so can I!'”

The same article quoted Gabby Giffords as saying, “I was really inspired by Mandisa’s song ‘Overcomer’ because its message is one of hope, perseverance and faith.  We can’t always control what happens to us in life, but we can control how we respond. Like the song says, if we keep positive and ‘stay in the fight till the final round,’ we can overcome more than we ever dreamed possible.”

Please watch this video. I’ll warn you, it makes me tear up every time I watch it.  I hope and pray that someone out there may find hope and strength in their time of need through seeing others that have overcome and by hearing the Good News that with God you are never alone!

Mandisa, Overcomer

You are not alone! (aka the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics)

You know, I am an Olympi-holic.  All Olympics, all the time!  Specially the Winter Olympics.  And oh, have I had a lot of fun watching all of the events this time around!

COC Photo by Jason Ransom

COC Photo by Jason Ransom

Unlike the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics are smaller, easier to keep on top of, easier to watch all of the events and cheer on all of our #TeamCanada Olympians (insert your own team name in at this point 😉 ).

Something struck me the other day as I was watching the free-style ski jumping.  I was thinking about the pressure these athletes are under during their event–all these years of training and focussing and preparing and now it is all on them.  No one can help them now.  They are on their own…

Then, as I was contemplating this, my interest was drawn to the replay of the jump of one of the skiers.  As they showed the jump from a different angle, I could see the athlete’s coach standing off to the side but under the jumper screaming encouragement and advice!  During the entire complicated, crazy flipping, twisting, upside-down time the athlete can hear his coach guiding and encouraging him/her!

What a great example of life as a Christian single and, really, as a married as well.  As we walk through the path that God has laid out for us, as we follow these crazy flipping, twisting, inside-out and upside-down experiences, although it may appear to some that we walk this path alone, the reality is that through every twist and turn our Coach is there with us, encouraging us and providing guidance every crazy step of the way.

What a great lesson to take home from this phenomenal sporting event.  I knew the Olympics couldn’t be just for fun!