Free

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“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.   

—from “Membership” (The Weight of Glory) by C.S Lewis
What holds you captive?  Strange question, perhaps, but a reasonable one. Looking at the people around me I can see a lot of things that they could be captive to:  work, Facebook status, approval of others, even their own dreams.  If we look at the world in relation to something and make our choices based on that thing then really we have become captive to it.
I have been contemplating how some people base who they are on their relationships (or lack thereof in the single world) and I think this is a dangerous thing.  Relationships change, they wax and wane, they grow, they fade, they’re ever changing.  If you’ve longed for a relationship for a long time and finally find one, the danger to you if you base who you are on that relationship is that if anything changes in that relationship your self esteem and even your sense of self could be damaged.
Sometimes even our relationship with God can be affected by this.  If we base who we are on our Christian practices, like the fact that we go to church every Sunday, pray every night before bed and go to Bible study faithfully, then it is possible that these practices might be holding us captive.  Don’t misunderstand me, these are very good things but we should ask ourselves, ‘Why do I do these things?’  To look better in the eyes of others?  If so, you’re captive to the approval of others.  To earn God’s love for you?  Then you’re captive to pride (‘me do, me do!’).
As the above CS Lewis quote says, we make an error if we think that we are anything in the eyes of God because of ourselves.  It is entirely because of who He is that we can come into His presence.  If we base our life on becoming worthy of God’s love, not only have we missed the point but we’ll be wasting our time. Even worse, if we are held back from His freedom because we are captive by a sense of unworthiness we will miss out entirely on His plan for us.  We must come to the place of freedom in Christ.  Part of this freedom is relinquishing our captivity in feeling that we earned or are earning His love.  Coming to the place of truly accepting God’s infinite grace even though we can’t understand it is freedom like no other. This is why John 8:36 says,  so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (NIV)
I challenge you this week to honestly answer these questions to yourself–What am I captive to?  What can I do to change my focus to freedom in Christ?  And I hope you become free indeed!

Lies Singles Tell Themselves…

SingleBcSo I found this new blog, The Single Woman, by Mandy Hale.  I’ve been keeping tabs on it over the last few months and am quite excited about it.  Mandy speaks from the heart with obvious concern for and understanding of her fellow Christian singles.

A recent post really caught my eye–Lies Singles Tell Themselves.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=289e1f78a90b57cfc0160d723&id=9756b3fa08&e=68c6e11a4b

The above picture is from the Single Woman blog post above.

I Am Not Pregnant

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1144/1485778585_f6ef2fb3f3_z.jpg?zz=1

Your world view? Or someone else’s?

I have been away from blogging for a while (since I for some inexplicable reason have nothing useful to say right now!) but I have come across something today that really deserves to be brought to attention.

My friend, Mandie (my source of media gems), sent me a link today from the Huffington Post.  It is a post by Jennifer Aniston in which she echoes some of my own sentiments about the disconnect about how the world thinks we should view ourselves and how we should actually view ourselves.

Is marriage or children or having a beautiful body or looking a certain way what’s most important?  And does it matter what people say about me, their comments on what I should or shouldn’t do, their opinion of my life choices?

Please read this blog by Jennifer Aniston and let me know what you think.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/for-the-record_us_57855586e4b03fc3ee4e626f

Is there a happy ending for me other than getting married or having children or looking a certain way?  Quite frankly, yes, there is.  God has much more planned for you than you can ever imagine!  Call on Him for your sense of your worth, for how you should view yourself, for your happy ending.  And ignore those influences around you that really have no place in deciding who you are or who you will be.  The One who created you is all you need.

(PS Really we should call it a ‘happy continuing’ because your life doesn’t end when you’ve found your purpose.  Rather, you continue on in your life with new focus, new life and new joy!).

Equality

“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.   

—from “Membership” (The Weight of Glory) by C.S Lewis
Remember, your value is not in what you wear or what your job is or what you’ve done or what you will do or whether you’re single or married–it is in who God is and what He has done for you.  And THAT will never change.  Isn’t it refreshing to realize that you don’t have to keep up with the Jones’?

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!