Singleness ~ a most valuable season

woman dancing

In American culture we’ve treated the state of singleness as a state of me-ism, freedom from other’s needs and desires, carefree liberation, interspersed with times of mutual body disrobing. One nonfic writer admits, fueled by several glasses of wine, she started her list of things to do for her-single-self in prep for this body disrobing with another adult. The list included exercise class, clean apartment, spiff up her appearance and style, etc.. Doesn’t sound that liberating to me.

woman with violyn

As Christians, God should always be Number-One in our lives. We should seek God’s will for this single life-season. Actually, singlehood is one of the most valuable seasons. It’s a time to develop into whole, fully functioning human beings. A shalom time. In Hebrew, shalom means nothing lost, nothing broken. Whether we will marry, or stay single, singleness is a time for personal growth, healing, and developing of God given talents.

man and woman 1

I’m now single, again…a widow. However, when I was single the first time, it was commonly said, “two will make a whole.” That’s not true. Two half-people do not make one wonderful whole. Two half-people are two broken people floundering in a marriage. Many of us went into marriage that way. With God’s help, fifty percent of the marriages survived. Can I suggest, that mate-seeking model is flawed. It’s also a horrible model for eventual parenting. Jesus gave the best advise for relationships.

29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12: 29-31

In my belief system, Jesus is telling me at the bottom of this, I should have appropriate self-love, but certainly not the puffed up kind. As a Christian, I believe all life on the planet, as created by God, is amazing, and all human life is sacred. That includes my life. As a born again believer, I realize the Spirit of God dwells within me. That’s something incredibly awesome and valuable.

I was born into singlehood. Although I didn’t always recognizance this, from day one until the day I married, was a time of preparation. Ideally, it was a time to get to know God intimately, and a time to know myself. It was a time of intense personal growth…a time to discover my talents and my purpose on the earth.

Forgiveness

In order to live intimately with another human being of the opposite sex, from a different cultural background, heritage, and ancestry…these years of singleness were a time to learn about forgiveness. In marriage you will have to forgive. You will have to forgive yourself perhaps even more than you forgive your mate.

These are things in our culture we don’t talk about much. We make game shows and reality TV out of marriage. We talk about buying the perfect wedding gown, taking an amazing honeymoon that will be the envy of our friends and coworkers. The wedding gown gets packed away and eventually might be given to the Salvation Army Store. We come back from the honeymoon and have to live together…actually communicate and relate to a human being totally different from ourselves.

Why not take this time of singleness as a time to know that God loves us. We can then love Him, appropriately love ourselves, and more deeply love others. Not just love a marriage partner, but our families (even if they’re flawed and they’re all flawed), and our friends. We can learn how to love the unlovable — in Christ, and not get stepped on, manipulated, and used because we know we have worth and purpose. Yes, singlehood is a very important and wonderful season of life.

For a Christian Woman Over 50 ~ things profitable

woman, of the worldI hope, as a seasoned Christian woman over fifty, I’m at peace with myself and others. From time-to-time in my pondering moments, I’ve wondered what are a few benchmarks, standards, norms a Christian woman over fifty should have attained, or be shooting for in her life. Below is a list I’ve compiled, and it’s by no means exhaustive.

1. Have a healthy, intimate relationship with God. ~ Knowing the Lord can’t be tamed, managed, or manipulated, we should be willing to intentionally follow His direction on the faith-journey He is laying out before us. We should we willing to hear the personal “word” He has for us.

2. Be in possession of a good Bible, not only a preWWI family heirloom you can’t write in, except to record births and deaths, and one you’re almost afraid to open lest a page tears. Make sure your daily-use Bible is in a translation that speaks to you.  And don’t be afraid to write personal notes in the margins. According to a recent survey, the King James Version (KJV) is still the most popular Bible and the most used by Christians. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is a more literal translation from the ancient texts. The Living Bible (TLB) is making its way into many homes because although it’s not a word-for-word translation, it tries to say exactly what was meant by the ancient texts.

3. Don’t lead a cloistered life. As the Bible tells us we are not to forsake the assembly of the saints. Also become part of the community at large. We should shine our lights, bring peace to situations in our neighborhoods, at work, where we recreate.

4. Have a pretty good idea what our emotional baggage is and where it came from. But instead of picking lint out of our navels and analyzing it to death, we should invite the Holy Spirit into the mess so He can heal it. After all, Jesus is the healer.

5. Forgive everyone we can think of who has done us wrong. And when our fleshly-self starts murmuring about them again, unleashes bitterness and resentment aimed at them, once again, determine to forgive on purpose…and we’re free. Also, don’t forget to forgive ourselves. Jesus died so that we would be forgiven. So, it’s important and biblical to forgive ourselves…and go free.

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Christmas Eve in my family has traditionally meant a meatless meal.

6. Have at least one tantalizing recipe, you’re known for, to hand down to your kids, your friends, or offer to your church cookbook. Better still if if came from your mom, and she got it from hers. All these little things are a part of a positive legacy women can create.

7. Have a few things in your home that document and/or attest to memories. Photos, shots or video of an abfab church activity, conference or a vacation. Curios, knickknacks, or a fine piece of furniture picked up on that awesome vacay. Women say having these things around the house makes them feel happy when they take a small trip down memory lane.

8. It’s really important to keep dreaming and to have a few dreams so big it will take God to bring them to fruition.

 

 

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Are You On The Outside ~ looking in?

Outsider

Are you the one who walks into a social setting and can’t find anyone to talk to? It seems all the people there are engaged in enjoyable conversations, but they won’t let you into the discussion. What do you do? Get a drink of something (wine, or a soft drink) and stand against the wall hoping someone will come by you can talk to? Maybe this even happens to you at church. Is that why you tend to come in late so you can slip in unnoticed…because you feel you’d be unnoticed anyway.

I am not a social butterfly. I do much better with the written word than I do socializing with a group of people. I suppose that’s why I’m a writer and not a public speaker. However, I’ve gotten better with people and have discovered there’s a root to this in myself and in others who are even more introverted than I am. It’s fear of man. Some of us have been sorely mistreated by others, absolutely run over (figuratively). We’ve been cheated, lied to, stolen from, and even physically threatened and abused. If we’re in a state of acute anger about this…let me remind you, anger is a cousin to fear.

Fear is the opposite of faith. And so, for believers, faith is the antidote or cure for fear. In any isolating situation, we need to focus on faith.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ~ Romans 10:17 [KJV]

Several translations, including the NASB which is my favorite, say: and hearing by the word of Christ. Christians know the Word of God is powerful and can be and should be applied to everyday life There are many places to hear the Word of God. Just turn on any Christian television show or radio broadcast. Or go to that pesky church service, even if you have to sit way in the back at first.

In my opinion, the cure for almost anything is to follow the commandment Jesus gave us to walk in love.

37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22: 37-40 [NASB]

What Jesus is talking about is agape love, or the God kind of love. This is the highest form of love and is sometimes translated as “charity”. We are to be kind and charitable to others and to ourselves. Who are we anyway, to be beating ourselves up with everything we did wrong, every mistake we made, every sin when God has forgiven us and remembers it no more? That self unforgiveness is really a manifestation of pride. We think: I’m so bad God might be able to forgive me because He’s God, after all. But it’s really unforgivable and so I can’t forgive myself. That’s actually funny, sadly funny.

Or, we tell ourselves, what they did to me was unforgivably horrid. How could they do that abhorrent thing? The real question is how could they not? We’re living in a lost and fallen world. Without the restraint of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they are able to commit real atrocities. Just turn on the news.

Whatever you did…whatever they did to you…let it all go and walk in love, kindness, and gentleness toward yourselves and others. This doesn’t mean you should be a doormat for the unrepentant, but you can forgive them and move on. You’ll be better for it. And maybe you won’t be so fearful and you’ll be able to come inside from the cold…even if it’s just a little bit at first. As you trust God’s grace, you’ll trust the God in you, and not be fearful of others.