Finding my stride in singleness…

…even in singleness there is purpose… meaning… blessing… God has allowed it… for sure, He has a plan…

A friend recently loaned me his June copy Christianity Today magazine… As I skimmed the pages, my eye caught glimpse of an intriguing article reviewing a new book about singles and the church…

 

 

Within the first couple paragraphs, I was hooked as the reviewer, Joy Beth Smith, shared her experience…

 

 

“This was never the life I imagined… What boys did [I] pass up? What mistakes did [I] make? What routines did [I] neglect, leaving [me] sleeping alone while the ticking of [my] biological clock lulls [me] into fitful dreams? I don’t feel equipped for singleness. All the youth group dating advice was predicated on the idea that marriage was in my future, that if I made all the right choices, kept myself pure, and sought after God, he would reward me with a husband.” *
 
Wow. Yes. That’s it. Ever since college, I’ve wondered… What did I do wrong to be single for so long? What is wrong with me that I’m still single? Ever since sixth grade youth group, I’d been presumptuous… Follow God’s rules, be a good person, make the right choices, and God will give me a husband… more than that, God would owe me a husband…! Ugh…!

 

There’s been a battle within me… a wrestling that yearns for resolve… All that which I was primed for as a child – that one day I’d learn how to live life together with a husband and wake to the little pitter-patter of tiny feet – has yet to come to fruition. Yes, there is still time for that… but the fact remains, life hasn’t turned out as I’d expected…

 

Smith goes on, “Many churches are proudly family-centered, and while this purpose aligns well with the American dream, it does little to welcome those of us who don’t fit the same mold…. In the church, certain assumptions are made about older single people: They’re weird or lack emotional intelligence; they’ve been dating the wrong way; or they’re held back by character defects or unresolved sin… All these stereotypes…are inaccurate. Singleness is not the problem—inability to see God’s sovereignty in singleness is.” *

 

We’ve glorified marriage and family life in the church… As if to remain single, or even childless, is to be less than whole. Indeed, I’ve held the same view… To be single beyond your twenty’s must mean your life took a wrong turn, there’s something wrong with you, or in rare cases, God might have singled you out for a special, more noble purpose in life… caring for orphans like Mother Theresa…

 

Consequently, my heart’s ideals have collided with the reality of my day-in, day-out life… Opening up questions about the blessed life…

 

But, even in this, I have found resolve… Even in singleness there is purpose… meaning… blessing… God has allowed it, maybe even ordained it… For sure, He has a plan… “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” **

 

In speaking to God, King David reminds us that God, created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb… All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” ***

 

And lastly, the Apostle Paul reminds us, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ****

 

Paul could see God’s plans… Christ was creating His church so that it would function like our human body…

 

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body… If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, everyone of them, just as he wanted them to be… As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” *****

 

So, I write this, not for pity… or even out of pride… Though it has been a difficult road for me, I’m not disappointed in what has transpired in my single life… I’ve had opportunity to do things I’ve always dreamed of – most of all travel – that I wouldn’t have done if I’d had a family in tow… I write this for the purpose of perspective…

 

To my single friends – don’t be ashamed of your current solo flight. God has meaning and purpose in it… Enjoy it… Discover who God made you to be… Serve wherever God has gifted or called you… Know you are deeply loved by Jesus…

 

To my married friends – remember your single friends. A simple phone call, text message, or card would be meaningful… Invite them to your son’s little league game, your daughter’s recital, or over for dinner… it doesn’t have to be extravagant, just being invited is enough to know we’re valued and haven’t been forgotten…

 

To the church – be more welcoming to singles. Don’t exploit their availability, appreciate it… Listen to their perspective… Walk beside them in their struggles… Invite them in… Let them know they are seen, heard, appreciated and loved… most of all, let them know they are not forgotten…

 

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

 

“…Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ††

 

*“Flying Solo in a Family-Centered Church” by Joy Beth Smith, Christianity Today, June, 2017
**Jeremiah 29:11          ***Psalm 139:13 & 16b     ****Ephesians 2:10
*****1 Corinthians 12:14-15, 17-18, & 20
†1 Corinthians 12:27    ††John 13:34-35
 
Pc: Sarah Coffey

April showers bring May flowers…

…don’t worry, just look at the flowers…

Most recently, we’ve been having a lot of rain… I’ve heard that it’s pretty common, pretty much everywhere, to get a lot of rain in the springtime… Though of course I’d hoped that by coming to Utah, I’d see much less of it than I did in Washington…

Yesterday, I was introduced to one of the local pastors as being from Washington… He was like, “So you must be used to all this rain we’ve been having lately, huh??” It was kinda funny… Whenever I mention Seattle, jokes and thoughts of rain always follow…

After one of the torrential rain storms, I noticed our beautiful tulips… They continued to stand tall in the planters lining our front steps despite such a strong downpour… The only evidence of the storm were beads of rain drops settled on their petals. It was simply beautiful! So, quick as I could, I got my phone and took some pics to capture their beauty…

At this, I was reminded of Jesus’ words regarding worry, using flowers as an example…

 

“…See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”*

 

He is right… Flowers are simply beautiful! And yet, their beauty was endowed on them by their creator. Nothing they could do would make them more beautiful… I mean, think about it…

Flowers are stuck in the ground, in one spot… They don’t get to choose to relocate to another plot of sod if the sun gets too hot or they’re near an aphid nest…

Flowers literally DO nothing… They just sit there, looking pretty…! They soak up all the sunrays that beam down on them and all the rain that falls from the clouds…

Flowers are vulnerable to all kinds of things… Strong gusts of wind… An early or late snowfall… Flooding… An ant infestation… And yet, perennials return year after year after year…

During this new “risk” of following God’s leading to Utah, I’ve had my share of doubts and uncertainties… Yet, God has taken this perceived risk and only blessed it… Over the last 3 weeks besides getting connected to the local community, I’ve had several job offers… Yesterday, I had several that I had to give an answer on… In usual Sarah fashion, I wavered, agonized, waffled between one option and another… Today it all came together… God provided the opportunity to work for a great company, in an exciting position, with great benefits… Only a week prior, I’d thought I’d bombed the interview and lost the chance for this exact position! God is so good…!

And so, when you think of what worries you, consider the flowers in your garden… And if you don’t have a garden, this even applies to dandelions… I mean, even though their weeds, they still have a pretty yellow shade, right?! If that is how God will clothe the flowers, and weeds, will He not much more clothe you? So, don’t worry, friend… God’s got beautiful plans for you, if you just release yourself from the stress of worrying about it…

*Matthew 6:28b-30

pc: Sarah Coffey

Run…

…none of us signed up for all life brings our way, but we keep on running…

…we run so we don’t get forgotten amidst the dust… we run to keep up… we run because the trail goes on… where will it lead?

****

It was never my intention to be a runner. As a kid, I wouldn’t have been pegged as having any real athletic ability. Overweight, shy, and sedentary… Cute kid, but not an athlete…

Still, I yearned to fit in… In the sixth grade, some new friends decided to join the track team. Not wanting to be a stick in the mud or left out of conversations, I added my name to the sign-up sheet.

When the first day of practice came, I found myself alone in the registration line… My friends had decided they were no longer interested in track… They hadn’t even seen the team or the track on which we would run…!

Growing up, my parents taught me the importance of commitment… When you tell someone you’re going to do something, you need to do it…! Keeping your promises is key. And so, I went to practice… That’s where it all began!

I came to practice, not really knowing what I’d gotten myself in to, but trusting that the advice my parents gave me was best. For the first month or so, I was one of the slowest on the team. At every meet, I came in dead last. I know from later conversations with my dad, when he watched me rounding the curves, still at the back of the pack, he felt some shame… When he was my age, he ran track and was one of the fastest on the course… Even qualifying for the junior Olympics! Boy, he could run! But then you had me… Giving it my all, but clearly not the star runner…

Well, I kept up with it and followed my dad’s coaching tips… I’d go to practice, come home and have run some more… by the end of that first season, I’d shed 20 pounds and moved up the line… crossing the finish line somewhere in the middle of the pack rather than the end… I’d improved!

****

None of us really sign up for all that life brings our way, but one way or another, we find that the road just keeps on going and our feet keep moving forward… So, in essence, we are all runners… Running to keep up with our daily tasks… Running to see where the trail goes… Running to make our own trail…!

…but running takes effort… it takes strength… it takes motivation… it takes energy… it takes encouragement from others…

As you run, know that you are not alone… Each of us runs through our own dark valleys and up the jagged trail to reach the other side of our circumstances. Don’t give up because in the end, it will all be worth it!