I Am Not Pregnant

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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!).

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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!

World View Number 2

I was driving to work one day and, of course, I was listening to the radio.  I was delighted to hear an old song from Michael W. Smith called Unloved.

Yes, I know, you’re going to say, “Are you crazy, Mary? You were delighted to hear a song called Unloved?”

Am I crazy?

Well, you may be right
I may be crazy
But it just might be a lunatic you’re looking for…
–Billy Joel, You May Be Right

😉

Take a look at the song’s lyrics for yourself.  I think this is one of the most amazing songs…

(Never Been) Unloved
Songwriters: KIRKPATRICK, WAYNE / SMITH, MICHAEL W.

I have been unfaithful I have been unworthy I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful have been unreachable I have been unteachable I have been unwilling
And I’ve been undesirable
And sometimes I have been unwise I’ve been undone by what I’m unsure of
But because of you
And all that you went through I know that I have never been unloved

I have been unbroken I have been unmended I have been uneasy
And I’ve been unapprochable
I’ve been unemotional I’ve been unexceptional I’ve been undecided
And I have been unqualified
Unaware – I have been unfair I’ve been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved
And all that you went through I know that I have never been unloved

You can see now why I was encouraged to hear this song–what a beautiful description of our need and God’s provision!

Strangely enough, though, when I arrived at work shortly after I heard another very different song on the radio, also called Unloved.  But, as you can see, it has a very different impact.

“Unloved” (partial lyrics)
duet: Jann Arden with Jackson Browne

There will be no consolation prize
This time the bone is broken clean
No baptism, no reprise and no sweet taste
of victory.
All the stars have fallen
from the sky and everything else in between
satelites have closed their eyes.
The moon has gone to sleep
Unloved…

Here I am an empty hallway,
Broken window, rainy night
I am nineteen sixty-two and I am ready
for a fight.
People crying hallelujah,
While the bullet leaves the gun
People falling, falling, falling and I don’t know
where they’re falling from
Are they
Unloved, unloved, unloved, unloved?

Yes, these are only part of the lyrics (there is a kind of happy-ish ending…).  But the reason that I’ve presented these to you is to remind you of the difference between a Christian world view and that of the world.  There are people in this world who feel unloved, but it shouldn’t be the Christians.

I think we give God a pretty short shrift.  “God, I’m single, on my own, alone.  You don’t love me!”  At times to Him we must sound like a four year-old who hasn’t gotten his way. Oh, if we could see all the times that God has saved us, has steered us safely through trouble, has worked in our circumstances to keep us safe!

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.
A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.
Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,
Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.
But I know they’re all around me all day and through the night.
When the enemy is closing in, I know sometimes they fight
To keep my feet from falling, I’ll never turn away.
If you’re asking what’s protecting me then you’re gonna hear me say:

Got His angels watching over me, every move I make,
Angels watching over me!
–Amy Grant, Angels

If only we could see these angels maybe we would see how well God watches over us, how diligently He stands with us, how powerfully He protects us, how creatively He loves us!

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:28 – 30 NIV

Remember, the one thing we have to show the world is our love for others.  35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV.  We can’t truly pass this love on to others if we don’t believe it ourselves.  This world is full of those who believe they are unloved–let’s show them that this is not the case!

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.