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Monday, 11 January 2016

The S Word



I don't want to blog about singleness. It feels like the kind of thing I would have written about aged 17, whilst listening to Alanis Morrisette (five years behind trend) and wearing blue mascara (ten years behind trend) and a choka (never on trend), and I feel like I should have moved on by now.

But recently I've spent a lot of time in Clintons, flicking through the engagement cards and wondering why they don't sell them in multi-packs- and the singleness clouds of dread are looming on the horizon.

I'm afraid of being single.

I mean, right now, I'm not afraid. Right now I'm drinking a banana smoothie. But as the years stretch ahead of me, the fear begins to creep in.

I'm afraid of loneliness. I feel like at one time 'my people' were all on one landmass hanging out together, having the same experiences- but that year by year, the land breaks up- couple by couple drifting away on their own islands, and the population of mine getting smaller. I'm afraid I'll end up alone on my island. Of course, people might still invite me over to theirs- but I'll still essentially be on my own. And their islands will be completely different to mine and so maybe we won't have so much to talk about...

I'm afraid I'll become a crazy cat lady (even though I don't really like cats), or that people will think of me as a "spinster", or that I'll become so insanely stubborn that I won't be able to tolerate people laying the table in the wrong way.

I'm afraid of bitterness. Envy rots the bones- and I'm afraid it might rot mine; that somehow sin will get a stranglehold on my heart. I'm afraid that disappointment will make me cynical, that my heart will harden, that I won't be able to take joy in my friends joy, that I won't have a smile on my face as I wave them off the island.

I'm afraid that bitterness, or hardness, or cynicism will make me less attractive and that people will see that as the reason I'm by myself to start with. I'm afraid it will isolate me more from my friends- that they'll become cautious of me, reluctant to bring up any conversations about relationships, or children, or table laying...I'm afraid that people will not only know I'm single, but that they'll know I'm resentful too.

I'm afraid because I know that deep down, I am mainly concerned about how my bitterness might make me look, rather than how it makes God look.

I'm afraid that my fear and my bitterness and my cynicism and my hardness won't tell the truth about God. That somehow I might undermine his glory by not trusting Him. I'm afraid that all these fears might cloud out the truth about my Heavenly Father: that He is faithful, and steadfast, and good, and that he upholds the oppressed, and the widows, and that the barren woman has cause to sing for joy in Him.I'm afraid my life will say, "I do not know the LORD"- because those who know His name put their trust in Him, for He has not forsaken those who seek Him. (Psalm (9:10)

That's a lot to be afraid about. But the Lord says,

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my righteous right hand." 

Isaiah 41:10

What an incredible promise! The Lord is with us! He will be our strength, and help- He will uphold us! How could I be so afraid?!

I have known, for many years- Jesus is sufficient for my singleness. He has promised to be with me, He has promised to take away my shame, He has vindicated my worth, He has made himself my justification so I don't need to worry about my reputation. I have experienced his sufficiency- frequently! I can sing, "I'll have no longings for another; I'm satisfied in Him alone." because He is sufficient for all my needs. There is so much that could be said about the comfort, the joy, the peace there is in the gospel and in Jesus, who brings it.

But in spite of this,  I am often still so sinful, so forgetful, and so prone to bitterness. And so the phrase, "Jesus is sufficient for my singleness" can sound more like a condemnation than a comfort.

What blows my mind though, is that even if I am still single at ninety, surrounded by cats I don't like and determinedly laying my table just right , having struggled every step of the way, Jesus will still love me. I will still be forgiven. I will still be a precious child of God! My life will still tell the truth about God: that He is one who commits himself to the broken, who is gracious in forgiving the struggling, who is generous to the stingy and faithful to the faithless. And any glimmer of kindness, peace, generosity and joy will be evidence of his sustaining power, his amazing grace.

Jesus is sufficient for my singleness- and the blood of Jesus is sufficient for my struggle with singleness.

For every moment when I forget that He is enough for me, when I doubt that He is with me, when I stumble on the way, His blood will be enough to cover my sin- my bitterness, my fear, my jealousy. His blood will be enough.

This is such humbling, Jesus-glorifying news.

He will not forsake us, He will not treat us as our sins deserve, He will not condemn.

8 comments:

  1. I'm sad that no-one has commented on this - it's wonderful. Thank you.

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  2. Aw, thank you for caring! How kind. :-)

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  3. This is brilliant. Thank you from a single sister :)

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  4. Don't worry about the table - you'll be eating from your lap in front of the tv like everyone else who doesn't have children ;)
    Always good to know there's someone else struggling with the same things! (Except the cats, I love cats)

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  5. This is really good, thank you.

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  6. Thanks for inviting me to like your page! This is the first post that popped up, not sure why, but I'm glad it did because it's so good. Bitterness is the issue-of-singleness that I hadn't seen coming, and have been trying to fend off when I realised it had arrived, so this was really useful.

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    Replies
    1. Blogger Philippa said...
      1. Thank you for commenting. You win ten points.
      2. Thank you for saying nice things within aforementioned comments. You win ten more.
      3. Thank you for liking my page. Have another ten to make a round old 30.

      Delete

 
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