19 Aug 2016

Why my single friend you are so powerful!

I have been thinking of you my dear single friend.

I am not saying this to console.
I am not saying this because I envy your freedom to decide nearly everything in life on your own.
I am not saying this because I am unhappy (I am grateful and gratified though I struggle).

But I deeply believe you are so powerful.

Your power lies in your being one. Singularity is a powerful thing. 'One' as we all know is a mighty numero Uno: first, unfettered, focused. Single mindedness, being able to zero in on an arena.

Eberhard Arnold:
If the heart is not clear and undivided – “single,” as Jesus put it – then it is weak, flabby, and indolent, incapable of accepting God’s will, of making important decisions, or of taking strong action. That is the reason why Jesus attached the greatest significance to singleness of heart, simplicity, unity, solidarity, and decisiveness.
Purity of heart is nothing else than absolute integrity, which can overcome desires that enervate and divide. Determined single-heartedness is what the heart needs in order to be receptive, truthful and upright, confident and brave, firm and strong.

(Getting two hearts, minds and wills to be singular is a gargantuan task few attain to honestly. I am forever figuring out how this marital 'one-ness' works!)

Consider what this means for all your choices and decisions. It is really up to you.

This is power.

Yes, you can get scared. You wish you had someone to discuss it with (make that someone who will understand and agree), someone to fall back on...but a ring on the finger, a walk down the aisle doesn't guarantee this power. It is actually still the same. You have to invest, build, repair critical relationships.

As a single, you can choose multiple such relationships and tinker with your time and energy to make each relationship work well. You can have friendships that are solidly invested in, community that you are actively building, peer and older mentors (in the flesh or some other forms eg books)....

All you gotta do is  d-e-c-i-d-e.

Decision-making is after all, the most incredible gift God has endowed us. Free Will. Choice.

You see, if I cared about issues of justice but my spouse doesn't to the same extent or degree; the scope for the range of choices I have is already defined. Even if he would agree to let me go off and do something about it... how long, before the relationship strains? I have not included children into the equation.

This is why:
"I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions" ~ ~ 2 Corinthians 7v32-25 (The Message version)

But -- loneliness.

Two weeks ago, I went on a personal retreat and did a bit of an unusual thing. I chose not to go to a regular retreat centre; but checked into a hostel downtown. I felt a strange draw to do it. I actually found a lovely hostel that had quite cosy spaces for me to sit, journal and pray in the aircon, while looking out onto the bustling street!

But what caught me a little unprepared was meal time. I walked out and seeing that the street had eatery after eatery; finally settled into one. A lady sat at the next table; by herself.

This is when it struck me.

I have taken the reality of eating with someone else for granted. She sat alone. I sat alone. Glancing at the menu wasn't much help. Unlike some places that offer a one-dish meal; this menu had nothing of that sort. I ordered a soup and it turned out to be large enough for at least two... not wanting to waste, I offered the waitress some of the soup!

I prayed for you right then my single friend - that the pangs of loneliness will not get the better of you.

Loneliness: having someone near, around, or with you, doesn't always banish it though. I found that experiencing loneliness when you expect not to be lonely is very painful too.

Loneliness is best combated when I take my eyes off myself and avoid throwing a pity-party. It is driven away when one offers company - maybe being physically with someone, or perhaps doing something for someone. Holding someone else in our hearts and minds crowd out loneliness pretty effectively.

Surely there's an older person in the neighborhood who is lonely? A child who would enjoy being read to, a letter to write and so on....

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says this:

Pain is a holy angel who shows us treasures that would otherwise remain forever hidden; through him men and women have become greater than through all the joys of the world. It must be so and I tell myself this in my present situation over and over again. The pain of suffering and of longing, which can often be felt even physically, must be there, and we cannot and need not talk it away. But it needs to be overcome every time, and thus there is an even holier angel than the one of pain; that is, the one of joy in God.

These deep words:

"The gift of unity, whether with other people or with God, does not depend in any way on marriage. In fact, the New Testament teaches that a deeper dedication to Christ may be found by giving up marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Those who renounce everything for Jesus, including the gift of marriage, are given a great promise by him: he will be especially near to them at his return (Rev. 14:1–5).
Whether such people find themselves without a life partner because of abandonment, death, or lack of opportunity, they can find a much greater calling than marriage if they are able to accept their singleness in the depths of their hearts. They can dedicate their lives in a special way to undivided service for God’s kingdom." (read the rest of this here: the service of singleness)

My dear friend, this is your discovery, your adventure with God, your journey. But I want to help you slay the lies that you are un-like, poorer, less. Plain lies. I want to encourage you my single friend - to see the potential that lies within your heart.

And, let's have dinner sometime!

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