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…

For Those Bad Days

Despite all that we’ve talked about there will be days when we feel low.  Even non-singles have days where they feel overwhelmed, distraught and alone.  This is the way of our fallen world…

As I’ve already mentioned, I love music.  Good music with good lyrics just seem to anchor themselves in my heart.  The next time you have one of these days where you feel alienated, despairing…please look back to the words of the song below.  It was written by the amazing Canadian Christian Jazz/Blues musician, Greg Sczebel.

Perhaps  by Greg Sczebel

Seems like I’m the only one who understands
Where I’m coming from. Maybe I’m wrong.
I crawl beneath a moonless sky
Trying to connect the hurt with why
And the tears don’t cease to come
So I give it one more shot, I cast my final lot
God, maybe you can understand
What I’m going through

Have you ever hurt so bad before
You could not feel the floor beneath your feet?
And have you ever cried so long
The tide swept you away like a song that was bittersweet?
Do you understand, do you think you can relate?
Maybe this reminds you of another time or place
Perhaps…Gethsemane

I could have sworn, as I lay warm in my bed
I could hear Your heart break for me
And You did not hesitate to take this pain away
You throw Your arms around me like a robe
Hold me close to let me know I’m not alone anymore
And You tell it like it is, like it was yesterday
And I just can’t believe my ears as I hear You say

Do you think that I’d forget
The kiss of death that was left on my face?
Do you think I did not hear the people mock
The soldiers sneer on that day?
Do you think that I don’t cry
When the very world for which I died
Just tries to wipe my name from history?
Child, it reminds me of Gethsemane

Do you think that I’m immune
To the pain you put me through
When you close your heart and walk away
And disregard the price I paid?
Do you think that I didn’t cry all day?

You see you’re not the only one
Who understands where you’re coming from…
I’ve been there all along…

_____________

2 Corinthians 4:8,9 (NIV)

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Blame

To BLAME:  Assign responsibility for a fault or wrong. (from Google)

It is my impression that no one is responsible for any action today–it seems to always be someone else’s fault.  I feel bad for the guy on the bottom of any totem pole because when it comes to passing the blame buck he has no one else to pass it on to!

You can’t blame gravity for falling in love. Albert Einstein

Passing or assigning blame has become an epidemic in our society and perhaps around the world and I suppose this is because there are consequences that have to be meted out in certain circumstances.

But really, why can’t we stop wasting our time passing blame?

Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. John F. Kennedy
People blame God for all sorts of things today, from mosquito bites to death and mayhem.  I used to blame God for my being single.  I thought if God is in control and all powerful, then how come He put me in a world that seems to rotate around couples and He hasn’t given me the chance to be in a ‘couple’?  This does bring up a few interesting points.  Firstly, the view of the world on singles and non-singles (this we will deal with in a future post).  Secondly, what did I mean by “if God is in control”?  Obviously, I was dealing with doubts about more than my singleness at that point!  (I’m better now…well, a work in progress!).Thirdly, though, and really the point of this post:  blame refers to assigning responsibility for a fault or wrong, according to Google, but what fault or wrong is there in me being single?  As mentioned before, we are single because this is God’s best for us.  How can there be a fault or a wrong in that?  Would we prefer not to have the best?  Would we prefer to have what we want rather than what God knows is for our own good?

Hmmm…good questions…

The beauty of our position is that God gives us the freedom of choice.  It is up to us.  Will we follow Him and be content and confident in where He leads, or will we take the steering wheel into our own hands and dictate our own direction? The beauty and the responsibility of our position…

Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions … Liberty and responsibility are inseparable.  Freidrich Hayek

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God truly does have your best interest at heart!  If you don’t believe this or if you still want to blame God, perhaps you’re dealing with doubt as I did.  Doubt is not a bad thing necessarily. It can challenge you, stretch you and grow you into a stronger Christian. But you must deal with this doubt or it will grow into something disturbing–bitterness. How to do this? Dig deeply into the Bible. Cry out to God–ask Him to reveal Himself in your life.  Talk to other Christians that you respect.  Find the answer to these doubts and squash the bitterness!

We have the choice to trust God or to trust our own judgement–this choice is indeed our responsibility and we can assign no blame to anyone but ourselves for the outcome.

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

Is Something Wrong With Me?

“Hey, Mary, I met another single Christian!”

My friend was very excited about this apparently rare event.

“Single and forty?  What is he like?”

“Well, he’s a decent guy…”

We look at eachother and I say, “There’s got to be something wrong with him if he’s 40 and still single!”  We giggle together until…

…I realize that I’m forty and single!  Wait a minute!  Is there something wrong with me?  Is this what people say after meeting me?  “There’s got to be something wrong with her…”

The problem with this thought process is that it is not only the non-singles that may think it but we singles as well.  I have on occasion wondered if there WAS something wrong with me.  In my less kind moments I have come across someone who was less than appealing to me and in my base, human way wondered how come they were dating/engaged/married and I was not.  I’m prettier, more intelligent, more social, more well-traveled, have better hair, dress better, drive a better car, can run faster, know my way around my community better, have better running shoes, have nicer lips…yeah, it gets kind of sad, doesn’t it?

So, is this the Urban Myth that we singles hold about ourselves in the darkest, most hidden parts of our psyche?  Is there something wrong with me?  Is this why I’m single?

As the Christian Single Myth Buster I will remind you firstly of what we have already addressed in a previous post:

You are single because this is God’s will for you.  No one has looked at you and scoffed and walked away–God has chosen singleness for you as His best for you.

Secondly, I have to remind of what you already should know:

1).  God created you and made you like Him.  Genesis 1:26a–Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”  If we are made in the image of God how can there be anything “wrong” with us?

2).  God loves you.  “For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour; I give Egypt for your ransom[,] since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you…”  Isaiah 43 parts of verse 3 and 4.  You are precious to God!

3).  God gave His only Begotten for you.  “For God so loved the world [you] that He gave His one and only Son…”  John 3:16

4).  Christ willingly gave himself for you.  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:2,3

5).  Through Christ we are God’s children.  “How great is love the Father has lavished on us, that we might be called the children of God!” 1 John 3:1a.  You know what this makes us?  Princes and Princesses, of course!

All right then, we might be prettier, more intelligent, more social, more well-traveled, have better hair, dress better, drive a better car, can run faster, know our way around our community better, have better running shoes, and have nicer lips and still be single.

Does this mean there is something wrong with us?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!  The world around might not understand this, and sometimes we might not believe it ourselves, but there is nothing “wrong” with us.  Actually, there is something RIGHT  with us–we are following God’s plan, even when the going gets tough.

And please, don’t ever forget who you are in Christ!

Who am I?  by Margaret Becker

Who am I, Jesus
That You call me by name…
I am counting the stars
On Your blackened sky
You call them all by name, You know them all by sight
In this sea of lights
I sense Your majesty
And I break at the thought that One so great
Could care for me
Who am I, Jesus
That You could call me by name
What could I ever do
To be loved this way
Who am I, Jesus
In Your eyes, tell me, who am I
I am counting the mountains
That I’ve laid at Your feet
And I’m reduced to tears when I think of how
You’ve moved them for me
In this storm of life
You’ve been my safe retreat
Through the wind and the fire You always were there
To carry me

Who am I, Jesus
That You could call me by name
What could I ever do
To be loved this way
Who am I, Jesus
In Your eyes, tell me, who am I

Does Single Mean Alone?

I’ve spent a portion of my life living in small rural communities and so have gotten used to being “alone” and actually quite like it.  Is this partly due to my selfish desire to be able to do what ever I want?  Maybe.  Is it because I’m comfortable with myself?  Maybe.  Maybe I’m just becoming a social pariah…

I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone.
Lord Byron

The point is that as a single I can choose to be alone if I want to.

Is alone the same as lonely?

Language has created the word “loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone.  And it has created “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.  (Paul Tillich)

Being alone does not necessarily mean that you will be lonely.  One can be lonely in the midst of a crowd.  One can glory in being alone.  I think this is an important distinction.  My non-single friend once said to me that she felt so lonely.  I was shocked–how can she mean she was lonely?  She had a family around her all the time!

OK–so anybody can feel lonely, not just those who are single, and being alone doesn’t mean you have to feel lonely.  Now, as Christians, the question is:  are we ever really truly alone? Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or or terrified … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Jesus tells us in John 10:29 that “no one can snatch them (us) out of my Father’s hand.”  If we are sitting in God’s hand, not only is that not alone but He’s pretty darn close to us!

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.
Anne Frank

Perhaps when we are feeling lonely the best thing to do is to cry out to God.  He is there and He loves us so much. One of my favorite hymns is In the Garden by C. Austin Miles, which says “I come to the garden alone … And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”  Perhaps the key to being in solitude rather than lonely is to talk to God and keep Him in the conversation.  He wants us to get to know him.  He wants communion with us!

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. Audrey Hepburn

The Meat Market Effect

Upon looking at a list of the members of my church family a few months ago I was very surprised to notice the large number of single people, mostly women.  I guess I hadn’t really thought about the single people who, unlike me, have been married before and for various reasons are now single.

I began to wonder how many other people in today’s church communities are unaware of the number of single members in their churches.

Remember, however, that there is nothing new under the sun (Eccles 1:9b)…  In Acts 6:1 we see complaints to the disciples because “their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.” (NIV)  The only single women we really hear about in the Bible are unmarried daughters and widows–the daughters lived under the protection of their family but the widows lived on the compassion of their community.  So to be sure that each person’s needs were met, the early church looked for those “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom” to care for them (Acts 6:3).

What can we take away from this?  Our church communities need to firstly recognize that there are singles in the church that need our support.  Secondly, I think we have to be open to the Spirit’s leading about how to go about addressing the needs of this group.  Every church family will likely have a slightly different way of ministering to their unique group of singles, so I’m not going to make any specific suggestions at this point.

I will, however, make a suggestion as to what NOT to do.

In my life I have gone to a grand total of one singles event.  It was not pleasant.  There was no sense of encouragement or support.  It felt quite uncomfortable, like a meat market with live animals milling around to be auctioned for sale.  No, seriously, this is how I felt!

I think, personally, that if you can avoid the meat market effect you will be able to minister more effectively to more people!  A suggestion to avoid this is to have separate mens and womens groups.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t have combined events with all your singles together, but I would encourage the separated groups because single women will get more support and encouragement from single women, and single men from men.  Remember, we will multiply our efforts if we can get the people within the group to minister to eachother.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward  love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” Hebrews 10:24, 25.