What I wish the church had taught me about being single

1) It’s totally normal to be single.

2) It might not be a season of life.  It might last my entire life.

3) It’s totally normal if I am single my whole life.

4) What to do with my desires as I “wait”…and wait and wait.

5) I have importance and worth in the Church/church as a single woman.

6) Marriage and motherhood are options/possibilities, not necessarily promises.

7) It’s okay to long for a husband.

8) Myths….and the damage they do.  Contentment, perfect yourself…etc.

9) It’s okay to be totally content in being single…but how do I do this?

10) I don’t have to live my life waiting for someone to come along so that I can start living.

11) Becoming “unsingle” is not going to make my life more important.

12) Becoming “unsingle” is not going to mean that suddenly my life will be ok.

13) Being single doesn’t mean something is wrong with me.

14) Marriage isn’t a gold-star for good behaviour. Emily Maynard eloquently fights against in this amazing and eye-opening article:  http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/why-arent-you-married-yet/

Now that I write these out, I think that I *might* attempt to do a post on each one of these things.  After all, who better to talk about singleness than a girl who has been single for 25 years?!

I recently wrote this comment on an article…

“I wish that singleness had been talked about as a viable option in the kingdom (besides Paul and Jesus) and how being single is not just a transition period into something that is actually important: marriage and motherhood. Singleness could actually be the stage on which my life is played…I don’t want to miss the first acts just because I’m thinking that some other character (husband) has to enter first before I do anything of importance.”

Here we go!!

Miracles: the wild life edition

Before we continue, please just go here and watch this…and breathe Jesus into your pores.  I could honestly fall on the floor in awe of the Lord each time I hear this song.   It is anointed, straight from the throne of God.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcnfT4arZtI

So…that was awesome.  Now, let’s get to it.  Sometimes, life just gives you lemons.  And while you know how the saying goes…you’re supposed to make lemonade.  BUT, sometimes you’re just don’t have the money to afford sugar; maybe you’re too exhausted to collect the water…and you’ve got nothing to stir it with and your pitcher’s cracked.  THEREFORE: you can’t make no lemonade!!!!!

Life is sometimes like this.  My mother has been sick for almost seven years.  Well, she’s probably been sick her entire life.

We moved away from her/my childhood hometown when I was in grade 12.  We moved to a beautiful place filled with rolling, pesticide laden fields.  This either exacerbated or caused what she now suffers from.  The doctors still aren’t sure what’s wrong.  All we know is that about 7 years ago, she was in the shower, gasping for breath, struggling to lift her arms up to wash her hair.  She started hyperventilating and called the ambulance.  She was rushed to the hospital, then sent home as if she was nutty.  A while later, she went for a routine blood test…at this point, she wasn’t working and when she made supper, she had to lean against the counter for support.  The blood test results were reported to her by another doctor who called and said, “Get to the hospital, you need a transfusion.”  I remember she packed a little bag and I held back the tears.

She hugged us all goodbye and I went to her, standing strong.  As long as I can hug someone till the tears go away, I’ll be fine.  I clung to her and she pushed me back, not wanting her tears to start and I burst into tears.  She told me not to get her going.  I can always make her cry.  It’s funny.  She never cries, but when I cry, she cries…  Anyway, I sat down at her desk and bawled and told my sisters to just leave me for a few minutes.  They all came and tried to comfort me–even the littlest one, 8 years younger than me.

She came home with a bruise on her arm from where the needle stuck her and I came home from school to find her on the computer.  I asked if she was ok.  She didn’t sugar-coat things, never has.  Seven years of this and that later, she’s still not well…and no one knows anything more than they did before.  She’s anemic…but why?  Her whole body is affected by this anemia: from her inability to lose weight, process foods properly, have energy for life…it’s all connected.  When my mom climbs the 14 steps from the basement to the top floor, she’s out of breath and has to wait a while before she catches it.  Her heart pounds.  She would often say, “My heart has to work faster than it’s supposed to.  And the heart only has so many beats in it.  Mine’s going faster, so it’s going to be done faster.”  And so, she went on heart medication to slow down her heart.

Depression kicked in probably when she hit puberty and she’s never really been able to climb out from the funk she’s been in since.  It’s a rare day when I call my mom and she’s in the mood to talk.  It’s awesome when she finds something that brings her joy because she’s so often feely crappy.  It’s a rare day when I hear her laugh.  She never played with us when I was a kid.  She was more likely just sitting beside us, holding us, watching us play, reading stories to us…but she never played.  She’s never been cheerful.  Never really even optimistic.  She’s never been able to see the glass as anything other than about to run dry.  And I have so much compassion for her.  I love this woman more than my own life.  But I want her to be whole and that can wear on me….if I make it my problem instead of Jesus’.

It’s hard to be sick.  It’s also hard to see people be healed from sickness and wonder why you’re being left behind to suffer.  When I told my mom about P’s recovery, she mumbled, “That’s good for her.”  She wasn’t sure how to take this “miracle” business, but she trusted me that I was telling the truth and we’ve heard of miracles happening in others, too…but I think what bothered her more is that creeping thought that wonders, “When are you going to give me what I’ve asked and begged for, God?” or “Why does God answer one prayer over another?”  And that’s a huge can of worms.  But I’m going to open it a bit.

Theories people have for God answering prayer:

1) I fits with His will.  Benefits of this theory: God is in charge of everything.  There’s something in charge of all the mess.  God is not leaving us here to wander alone.  There’s order in the chaos.  Problems with this theory: what about the mother of seven who loves the Lord who dies of liver failure as her two youngest kids are in grade 6?  What about the three year old whose religiously pious father raped her?

2) People who want to be healed need to be healed of internal, spiritual things, first.  Benefits: there is a discipline and some kind of pay-off to our spiritual life.  If we’re obedient and we do the things we believe we should in order to follow God, He will reward us with health and wholeness.   Issues: the onus is on the person doing works and therefore, judgment and condemnation can ensue.  We may begin to look at someone who suffers and think, “They are sinful and they suffer.”  This is just a Biblical karma and it makes no sense.  God is not a tit-for-tat God.  Obedience, surrender, and repentance play key roles in making our lives better, but the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  It’s not about getting for doing…it’s about loving Him so much that we desire and need to do things…the love is where the blessings come from, not the dogma, not the doctrine of do-do-do…it’s about love.  Desire, and drawing close to the only One who can save and bring peace.

3) Stuff happens. Benefits: No one’s at fault.  There are things we can’t control.  Issues: Stuff happens because of God and without God’s approval.  Stuff happens that’s not under God’s sovereignty.  And then this plays into the bigger issues of the problem of evil and the power of God.  WoAH!  Theology 101.  Also, I think that there can be a link between spiritual and physical health, but not in the tit-for-tat way.  It’s more like when you’re spiritually dead or broken or feeling icky, then there’s nothing to hold up your spirit.  Like it says in the Bible, you’ll survive with a sick body, but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed?  (Proverbs 18:15 The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?)  If we’re swimming in bitterness, wrath, anger, unforgiveness, then our spirit is broken.

A breakthrough came a few months ago: mom discovered many of her symptoms linked with Celiac disease.  She went gluten free for 6 months.  And she felt better.  And the iron infusions actually worked.  But it still wasn’t doing anything really life-changing or health-improving.  So, she went to see a specialist.  And thankfully, the specialist took her seriously.  She’s back on gluten (damaging her body for the sake of figuring out how her body can be fixed).  She’s also scheduled for a bone marrow test which may come up with some cause of all the chaos that’s been going on in her for so long.  My only consolation has been: if it was cancer, she’d be dead by now; it’s something that has to be found and treated.

And perhaps, this side of Heaven, my mother won’t ever be fixed in the body.  But I desire with my whole heart that she be mended in the soul.  And it’s hard being chronically ill.  You lose focus, drive; your energy is so low you feel like, “What’s the point of getting up in the morning?”  And pretty soon you lose hope.  My prayer for my mother has always been the God heal her internally first before He heals her externally because those things are eternal…the soul is immortal…the body is dust.

The Lord heals.  And the Lord is a miracle worker.  I eagerly await the day when He pours His shalom and healing over my mother.  She is healing.  His Name is Salvation, His mission to save….us from ourselves, from death, from sickness. AMEN!  Hoshiana: come and save us.

You have come to save us

You have come to save us

You have come to save us, Lord

You’re the Hope among us

You’re the peace that binds us

You have come to save us, Lord

King of all the other Kings on Earth

Miracles: the precious life edition

There’s an amazing blog I read that is just AWESOME.  Here’s a link to the latest post if you want to see a mega-miracle unfolding.  Warning: there is a picture of a starving child, BUT it’s worth it.  Oh, Praise the Lord!!!!

http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.ca/2013/05/whoooa-back-up-did-he-really-just-say.html

Isn’t that awesome!! God is still a God of miracles. 

I have also seen God work in mysterious and wonderful ways…here are just two of them.

1) A few years ago, my cousin K was having trouble concentrating in high school.  Her attention span was nil, she was exhausted all the time, and she often felt violently ill.  She wondered if it was the whiteboard markers, the fluorescent lights, the new school…whatever.  And then her parents took her to the doctor.  They did testing on her and found out that she had a hole in her heart.  She was booked for an appointment at the women and children’s hospital in the area and depending on the results, she could be put on a list for a heart transplant.   

Weeks went by and I was sitting in church.  I am tenderhearted and when things build up in me, I can let loose and bawl.  I am known as the crier in my family and from how much my family cries, I’d only have to let one good tear drop for me to be known by that name.  Anyway…I was in church and the pastor’s wife asked if anyone needed healing to stand up.  She said that even if someone was going to stand in the name of someone else to ask for healing they could do that.  My mom had been (still is) sick (it’s going on 7 years now) and I was praying for her and my cousin K.  I was trembling, feeling called to stand and yet I could not.  

I sat there shaking until the tears came.  I just started weeping and bawling.  My family was mortified, but I couldn’t contain myself.  And I felt like I was releasing tears of anguish for K, but also like a pressure valve had been released and I was no longer worried about her.  I guess now that I know that the Spirit of God moved me to tears to weep on her behalf.  It says in the Bible that when we have to words, we are to groan and the Holy Spirit will make sense of our prayers before God.  I think that’s what I did that day.

Not long after that, my aunt called my mom to tell her something.  K had gone to the doctor and they did an ultrasound of her heart and found NOTHING wrong.  No hole, no imperfection.  My cousin did the happy dance…and I nodded saying, “I knew it.” 

2) My friend P from church recently went to a women’s health clinic where they found a lump in her breast the size of a golf ball.  She was scheduled for an appointment nine hours away in the big city for five days later.  It was an emergency.  

We met to pray on Wednesday and we prayed through verses of the Bible.  It was amazingly powerful to read of God’s faithfulness and proclaim it over her.  I knew KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that P was healed.  

Friday she went down for her appointment and the doctor found NOTHING wrong.  Just fatty tissue which had always been there.  How amazing is our God!!!  

There were of course naysayers who thought that the lump had never been there in the first place, who said, “How awesome that the lump was never there” or doubted that there had been anything to worry about in the first place, but the lump was real!!  And God HEALED HER!!!!  It was so amazing.

God is good (all the time) and all the time (God is good).  But it’s so much easier to sing hymns of praise when life is carefree and easy and when things go your way.  It’s harder to sing empty…like the bow of a violin on the strings sings in the emptiness of the hollow made to resonate the sound and make it breathe and grow in emptiness.  But…we are no violins.  And what about when God doesn’t answer your prayer for a miracle???  Next post!