Singleness: the ongoing struggle

I’ve been wanting to write a post about singleness and contentment for a while and it’s funny that I’m writing it now when I’m really frustrated by my singleness and contentment is out galavanting somewhere else.

One of my closest friends has disconnected with our network of young women because she’s had enough of hearing about dating and being a ‘Ruth’, that it actually drove her into depression. If she’s pursuing all these things then how come the Hagars of the world are getting all the guys?

I’ve been in a similar place when I see women who choose differently with regard to chastity or modesty and they’re the ones metaphorically ‘bringing all the boys to the yard‘. It can really get a girl down. Plus I’ve had my hopes dashed more times than I dare to count by unrequited affections. In that respect God’s shown me that I still have a lot to improve upon. There are things He needs me to work on while I still have that freedom.

What concerns me though is how in our women’s network there’s constant talk about getting married and finding a husband. There’s plenty of independence in there as well. A lot of encouragement for building yourself up and taking the bull by the horns so you don’t have to start doing that post marriage.

One thing I appreciated about my growth in church was that we knew and were reminded that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:4-5), but we were also taught that not everyone’s going to get married and that’s okay. Amongst Catholics there’s an understanding that people will either be priests, religious (nuns, brothers, friars, etc), married or single. Three of these vocations will mean a life of celibacy and serving God (1 Corinth 7:7-8) the latter of which is possible in married life but this is why it’s a vocation, it’s a way you’ve been called to by God.

It’s now that I’ve come to network with more Pentecostal, Evangelical, non denominational etc Christians that I’ve been perplexed by the emphasis on people finding a spouse. There’s plenty of spiritual teaching but dang if someone doesn’t mention a spouse at least once during a session there’s something up. It makes me wonder why this is the case. I know other denominations don’t have priests or people serving from a religious order, but why is it so alien to have someone led to a life of singleness?

Not everyone in the Bible got married. A lot of them just dedicated themselves to God until they went to heaven. This is the whole thing about priests and the religious. The 12 Apostles didn’t get married (or if they did it wasn’t recorded in Scripture), they just lived and died for the faith. I’d love that level of being enamoured with the Father so much that it stilled that occasional ache for my other half (wherever he is).

I’m not saying the Catholic way is the way everyone should go, that’s between each person and Jesus, but I do think the other denominations could learn something. We’re all pursuing that same satisfaction in the Lord (Psalm 42), chasing holiness and if we can help each other along the way that would be great. We’d be showing each other a lot of grace.

19/10/16 I’ve since made a Spotify playlist for the days when singleness doesn’t feel like a blessing. If you’re interested here’s the link Content & Beloved

 

I am Satisfied in….?

I am rarely ever completely satisfied with what I have. There’s always someone I can look at and think “Why can’t I do my hair as well as she does? Why can’t my skin be as smooth as hers? Wow look at those legs. If I had those legs I’d be a whole other woman”. It even creeps unapologetically into spiritual life; “Why can’t I pray like that? God, why don’t you ever give me those kinds of blessings? Well, I guess God just didn’t want me to have a solo career as a Christian soul singer/rapper/poet.”

It’s funny because it looks right into one of the basic features of being human; we are rarely ever completely happy with what we have when we are aware of the blessings of others. Now I have to point out, there is a difference between admiring the work of God in someone’s life (for example how he used a friend in teaching an atheist about the truth of the Gospel which leads to them being baptised) and potentially secretly envying them (for example wishing he had used you to take down the whole group of atheists and turn them into a Gospel street-preaching-choir). I mean really, everyone wants to be that person who leads a billion people to God…or maybe that’s just me.

I really enjoy the preaching of Judah Smith. His style speaks to me because even though I’m Catholic and I like that cool, calm and structured way of worshipping, when I go and speak to anyone about anything pertaining to the Bible or Gospel or God, all the characters turn into gangstas. I don’t know, I think in my mind when I describe them in this way I understand what I’m saying a lot better. I’m not quite polished at using that fancy rhetoric, and especially when I’m speaking to someone who has minimal knowledge about anything involving my faith I find it connects better. I’m not trying to make the Bible sound hip and I’m not drowning it in glitter because have you met Jesus? He’s already the coolest guy I know and the Bible’s an awesome read. That’s where I feel Judah and I are similar. We are both wannabe gangstas, he’s just more popular than I am. Anyway, I’ve been reading his latest book ‘Life Is____’ and it’s great. At one point he wonders how happy we would be if we had no information about our friends and neighbours, and I think that has some truth to it.

The other night I went for Bible study and I was feeling good, ready to share my testimony and tell everyone how God had blessed me that week. I was practically buzzing and my heart was singing silent psalms of praise to the Father. As we went around the circle the tone of my heart was pretty solid until we arrived at one person. She told us about how she had been in communion with Jesus during the weekend. She described how she had locked herself in her room and actually forgotten about the outside world because she was just enjoying being with Jesus, talking to him, singing, revelling in his presence. And little me sat up in my seat wondering why God never called me to do that. I wanted that too. It’s happened before with so many other situations where someone wins a prize or brings out the big guns during fellowship bringing everyone in awe of God, and sometimes I think to myself and wonder why my blessings are always so much smaller than everyone else’s. Ironically before I even knew about their blessings I was feeling pretty good about mine. I was feeling invincible. I felt adored by God. Jesus was my anchor and the Spirit was my sail.

My friends and I often acknowledge how humans are rarely ever happy with what they have. We always want someone else’s hair or eyes or complexion or height when God’s already given us a pretty sweet deal if only we looked into ourselves a little more rather than at others.

God is just and after Jesus he really doesn’t have favourites. He is a just and fair God even when we don’t always see or acknowledge it. Besides, no two relationships are identical. The way I relate to God is different from every other people and it mainly consists of an occasional tug-of-war, one-sided arguments, sulking, and lots of smiles and laughter. My day of communing with God may look different to yours because we are different children at different stages of our spiritual development.

Keeping this in mind I’m going to try a bit harder to be thankful in all and every situation he throws my way. When it’s my turn to win a ruler and a friend’s turn to win a bicycle I’ll be happy with my ruler and happy for my friend and their bicycle. It’s just another thing Jesus has to help me sort out; to first be satisfied with him and then be satisfied with everything he gives me. After all he knows best.

The Ten

We’re no strangers to the Ten Commandments.They are the basis of the laws given to men by God, edited by men (and taken overboard by men) which Jesus came to rectify. He gave us an even better commandment which pretty much encompasses the original unedited Ten given to us by God.

The other day I was looking at the ten commandments and I feel I had a bit of a lightbulb moment. Each of these commandments is under attack in this modern world we live in, and we are slowly becoming lulled to their significance (think Samson and Delilah; the evil one is making us numb to wrong and tiring us out until we slowly brush the truth under the carpet and blame it on someone else). Below I’ve tried to list what I observed about the world and a select few of the commandments:

Okay. Idolatry. Not so much in the tradition statue sense with a pigeon god or something but I define idolatry as putting something before God. It can be sleep (cough  cough, not pointing any fingers), it can be a tv show, it can be your job, or your family or your significant other. Each of these may deserve a measure of attention but remember God comes first and he should be at the centre of everything you do, not Walter White or your Titleist clubs.

It’s become so common for someone to use our Lord God’s name in vain. Back home in my country the cable television network actually censors the disrespectful use of the words/names God, Jesus, Jesus Christ and simply Christ. When my aunt who lived in England moved back home she exclaimed how sensitive people were for them to censor every random us of God, etc. It worried me that normal television wouldn’t honour God’s name and even now when I hear someone use his name in vain I wince internally. It just doesn’t feel right.

I don’t even understand how the world has become so lax when it comes to death and killing. My country isn’t involved in any wars at the moment but a lot of the major countries are and so many people salute soldiers who go out to war. Now I have so much respect for anyone willing to lay down their life for someone else, or just protecting their fellow man. Allow me to use the example of Osama Bin Laden. I was not a fan and I never will be, but I was so shocked when the world blew up in rapturous applause at his death. Celebrations emanated throughout the nations and it made me think “ok so there’s one less bad guy in the world (yay!) but since when is it ok to celebrate killing?” Whether its that or it’s the death sentence, I can’t support killing.

You pop in a dvd and while you’re making popcorn or chatting with a friend, in the background you may not hear the reminder not to pirate media. I’m guilty. I have downloaded far too many songs because I didn’t have the money to pay for them. I know prominent church officials who will talk about a movie they downloaded or a CD they copied. We all know it’s wrong but once we start we forget that we’re actually stealing. We’re thieves. We’re as bad as the thieves on the crosses beside Jesus. We might even be like the unrepentant one if we don’t own up to what we do. But it’s so much easier to just copy something, or torrent it or…no, stop making excuses. I’m a thief and I’m embarrassed each time my mother asks me where I get all my music because I know the answer isn’t one she’d be pleased to hear.

These are a few of the ones I feel strongly about, and I’m happy if there’s anything I’ve said that’s made you think a bit. I’m not proud of myself or a lot of the things I do but I try to pray about it as often as possible. The world we live in is a comfortable place but if we become too numb to all the things going wrong, we’re putting ourselves in a dangerous situation.

Dear Father,

we thank you for this day. We thank you for your unconditional love for us. We pray for forgiveness Lord, for the times when we choose the temporary beauties of this world over the everlasting glories of your heavenly kingdom. For the times when we grow numb to our faults, may you remove the scales from our eyes and awaken our hearts, so that we remember your will Lord. As you have spoken we are in this world but we are not of this world. We ask you to please remind us of the strength we have through your Holy Spirit, for we choose you Lord, each and every day. You are our fulfillment and we give you praise. We love you.

In your blessed name we pray.

Amen