Dear Struggling Single Mama

Dear Struggling Single Mama

It is one of my favorite things about God - how, when he tells us to do something, it is for us, it is for OUR benefit, it is for OUR good.  He's not sitting in heaven watching for someone to follow the rules and then pulling a string to drop blessings on the one who is obedient - the rules ARE the blessing.  His commands, the things he asks us to obey, are for US.  He doesn't tell us to forgive so a burden will be lifted from someone else - he commands us to forgive so a burden will be lifted from US.  He doesn't tell us to be careful with our words simply to avoid hurting other people - he tells us to be careful because the words we use affect US.

And when he tells us to love others - when he says this is the second greatest commandment - it is not only for the people we love, it is for US.

This is what I don't want you to miss, single mom who likely has more than her share of burdens, I don't want you to miss this step. LOVE OTHERS.  It is too easy to get lost in the muck - in all of those unfair and impossible things.

In two sermons and on one radio show this week, I heard speakers talking about "reaching out" to single moms or "helping" single moms.  Don't hear me wrong because I think this is fantastic.  Many among us could use a hand - we could use a little love sent our way.  But those messages are given to encourage the hearer to reach out to others AND THOSE MESSAGES ARE FOR US TOO. It is not a message to single moms to wait for someone to help them, or to get angry because no one is complying.  Even if we are on the list - that list the preacher gives of people who could maybe use a little help, a little love - we are still called to reach out.

And this call is for OUR good.

Because if you are focused on your own muck, it will drown you.  We have to look out - away from ourselves.  We have to turn our attention from our muck to the muck of others.  God gave you gifts - talents and skills - and He has a purpose for your life, for every day you live.  He wired you to find fulfillment in reaching out to others, in offering your talents and skills for their sake.

Freedom is there in the reaching out.  Growth is there.  Healing is there.

Reach out.

I Used To Hate Valentine's Day

I Used To Hate Valentine’s Day

February 14th was a cursed day for me.  For nearly a decade, unfortunate events befell me on this day. Every. Single. Year.  So when I volunteered for a trip from Mosul to Baghdad during my deployment to Iraq and later realized we would be flying on February 14th, I was fully convinced it would be the day of my death.  

Call me melodramatic, but I was going to be in a helicopter, in a war zone, on the day where terrible circumstances unfolded nearly every year of my adult life.  You would have been unnerved too.  Don't lie.  

Clearly I survived, but the curse was nowhere near broken.  I spent the evening of February 14th, 2008 alternating between being frozen by the winter winds of the desert whipping through the Chinook, and standing outside during multiple landings waiting to re-board the flying freezer.  We didn't make it to Baghdad either - we ended up stranded for 14 days in Taji (which actually wasn't all bad, but more stories for another time).  The point is - the day sucked - the curse survived.  

Red quote_V day.JPG

Until it didn't.

I don't know when it happened (which is unfortunate because I'm trying to craft an essay here and I could use a better segue), it just happened.  The day of hearts came and went, came and went, came and went without a single unlucky event.

And when I realized the day of love embraced me, I embraced it back.  

After all, I'm pretty into love.  Love saved me.  Love sustains me.  Love knows me wholly and embraces me fully.  Love lifts me up where I belong (sorry not sorry.) So this day I once thought would be the day I died is now a day to celebrate the reason I live.  Love is awesome, and I'm cool with a day set aside to celebrate awesome things.  I'm also cool with an excuse to eat cupcakes.    


 

 

Q & A: Answering Questions About Christian Singleness

Answering Questions About Christian Singleness

IF: GATHERING was this weekend and I participate every year, alone from my couch in my pajamas, which is basically the only way to participate.  There was a segment of the conference where a panel of single, Christian women answered three questions about being single.  

It was a good segment, with a group of ladies who gave great answers.  BUT, I would have answered differently.  

1 What are the highs and lows of being single?

HIGHS

Most of the panel talked along the lines of freedom being the best part of singleness.  I tend to agree on this one. I love sleeping alone (until The B crawls in with me). I am thankful for my evenings when I am alone and can doodle and watch Netflix, or stare at a wall in silence, or sing to myself until a song comes out - pretty much whatever I want to do.  I get a big chunk of alone time almost every single night and it's awesome - this is probably my highest high.  

A close second is a lack of drama.  When you share your life with a person, you are going to clash.  There are going to be bunches of little conflicts, days where emotions run high, days where you're a jerk, days where he's a jerk, and days where you have to work through the days where one or both of you were jerks.  I enjoy this little lack in my life.

LOWS

I think for me, the low is the lack of male friendship.  Most of my adult life I have had men around me who felt like brothers.  My actual brothers are adults now, so that's fun.  And I keep in loose, over-the-internet, contact with some of my old friends, but not having brothers in my close circle of friends is a pretty big bummer for me.  

Christian Singleness Quote

In our culture, and I would say especially in the American church culture, there is an assumption that everyone wants to be married.  I have found this leads to a lot of misunderstanding in an opposite-sex friendship, even when intentions of singleness are explicitly stated.  It's something I decided wasn't worth the potential drama. But it does make me sad on occasion, so I'd call it a low.

2. What would you say to other single women who have put themselves in neutral, waiting to be married?

The panelists were so kind and full of grace as they answered this question.  I love how they gently pointed out a couple of key truths:  You might not ever get married and your current problems and insecurities are coming with you if you do.

My answer is a bit more blunt:

1. Stop it.  Take marriage off the to-do list.  Take marriage off of your list of goals.  If you hold, in any measure, the false idea of the purpose of woman being to mate and reproduce - stop it.  

Your purpose is to serve God. Period.  There is a message, as subtle as it is destructive, in our culture and it tells us marriage is what we do, marriage is for everyone but weirdos and shut-ins, marriage is where everyone is bound, you are incomplete without a mate, you won't fit in anywhere without a mate, blah blah blah - none of this is truth. Marriage is good AND singleness is good.

(A little caveat for the person who doesn't know me very well, or at all, and thinks I am being negative about marriage here - this is not what is happening.  Marriage is good, but there is a difference between "good" and "required," and a difference between "good" and "necessary.")

2. Set aside an entire year where you will not even entertain the idea of dating.  Don't flirt, don't fantasize, don't pray for a husband.  

Be committed to a solid year of being single.  Intentionally take time to study what God says about marriage.  Read books about marriage, listen to sermons about marriage, and be friends with married couples who will be real and vulnerable around you about how stupid hard it is to be married.  

At the very least, you will learn contentedness as a single and, if marriage is in your future, you will be ready to enter it with more realistic expectations.

 

3. What can the church do better?

The American church, while it may throw the occasional bone in recognition of the value and acceptableness of a life of singleness, has (in general) perpetuated beliefs about marriage which are more cultural than scriptural.

"You need a mate"  is not something most people would outright affirm as truth, but they WOULD and DO affirm this as truth through a multitude of other words and actions.  

So what can the church do better for me as a single person? Pray and read the scriptures.  Ask for and seek an understanding of singleness based not on culture, tradition, or your own experience.  Find and read the stories of single Christ followers, historically and in the scriptures. I believe this is the appropriate and necessary place to start, so this is what I would ask of the church (if they were asking :) )