Category Archives: heart

The Problem with being single : The things people say (and what I did with it)

They said marriage and children are really hard.  No, like really hard… Seriously.  And this is good – honesty is good.  But, if you’re hoping to get married, make sure it is to The Right Person.  And, actually, while you’re at it, make sure you are The Right Person.

They posted endless Facebook articles : 8 ways to find a godly marriage partner, 10 things Christian men should look for in a bride, 15 things godly women need in a husband, 20 characteristics of a God-honouring marriage…

They said to find someone who would lead me spiritually, someone who would encourage me in all my gifts, someone who would push me to be the very I best I could be.

They said that if it were right, I would ‘just know’; that if it were real, it wouldn’t be so hard.

They said to seek out a man of character and to stay away from anyone with ‘issues’.

They said to make sure I was ready; my issues  prayed away, my patience perfected.

Later, they added things like ‘financial security’, ‘more than sexual attraction’, ‘shared values’.  Think about who’ll die first, who might get sick, where you might live, how you’ll spend your money, raise your kids, paint the bathroom, cook your pasta, scratch your… Well. You get the idea.

So, I packed up all these thoughts and questions and traits and hoisted them onto my back.

 I didn’t notice the weight at first, because I wanted marriage, I wanted to choose well, I had to choose well.  And now that I carried this stuff with me, when it came to being in a relationship, I knew what it would look like, how it would feel, what I would do, what he would do, what we would be together : a lean, mean, godly marriage machine. And it would last, I’d be sure it would last.

I, particularly I, would need to be sure it would last.

Then I fell in love.

No-one said I would come face to face with my fears as I accidentally fell for someone so completely unexpected. Someone so completely… Human.

 No-one said (or I didn’t hear it well) that life tends to be a little less tidy than my backpack of relationship expectation.  They didn’t post Facebook articles offering 8 ways to stop being Shit-Scared of marriage when your parents are divorced, 10 ways to loosen your vice-like grip on what you perceive to be control, 20 characteristics of two screwed up human beings trying to build a life together while trusting grace.

So I find myself in a relationship with someone whose complete human-ness is irritatingly out of my control (this is tongue-in-cheek, but – seriously?!? No-one said I would need to surrender control!). But in all his uncontrollable human glory, he is funny and gentle and GOOD. And I love him.

Those things they said I should look for, should do, should be… They haunt me sometimes. Sometimes they haunt me often. There tends to be plinky-plinky Disney-like music and chirupping birds echoing somewhere in the background. There is always fear.

I am not afraid of his imperfection – though sometimes The Lists would have me think so. (Then I can blame it on someone else.) I am not afraid of infidelity and drama. I’m afraid of me.

This is my fearful shame :

After all these years of praying for someone who wouldn’t give up on me, my biggest fear is that it will be me who gives up because marriage and kids is really hard.  No, like really hard… Seriously.  Like, maybe too hard for anyone other than The Right Person.

And if there’s anything I’ve learnt over the past few years, it is that I am not The Right Person.

I am only me.  He is only him.  And that load on my back is only Heavy.

Stuff the lists.

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Filed under dating, fear, heart, love, relationships, risk, singleness

On being not single.

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Ah, Valentine’s Day… The day on which we (I?) make jokes about how difficult it was to open our front door with all the cards and flowers in the way.  Otherwise could be known as “Marmite Day”… You either love it or hate it.

Facebook testifies to this fact.

From schmushy declarations of love, to boastful photographs of “oh-gosh-I’m-sooo-surprised-by-this-bouquet-of-flowers-aren’t-I-sooo-blessed?”, to bible verses about love and to downright “fnuh”, the 14 February has got people status-updating to the max.

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One of my life’s most creative and romantic gestures (thus far, I hasten to add!) was to make a handmade story book of high school friends who became college sweethearts.  I poured my heart into it and it took weeks.  After the then-current-day page of our love story, I marked “To be continued…”.  When I gave the gift, my sweetheart thumbed through the pages after “To be continued…”, smiled and said “Oh good, there are lots of pages still to come.”  *Sigh*  Perfect!

Except two months later it was all over.

Love is a risk.

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Not so long ago, I lived in a house with two other girls.  A little while after we moved in together, one housemate began a dating relationship.  What struck me about the dynamic of that this time round, was that while we two single housemates were feeling left out of the “couples”, my newly “dating-someone” housemate was feeling left out of being single.

Over the next months, she and her boyfriend went through millions of ups and downs and ins and outs on the journey of working out if they could build a life together.  They eventually tied the knot and are now facing the rest of life’s challenging adventures together as husband and wife.  We got to be part of that as the three of us housemates honestly walked the path of our changing circumstances together.

Love is a risk.

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I never thought I’d be one to advocate for the American way of things, but if my friend and colleague is a good example of the American take on all this, then do it their way…

She made “Valentines” for the members of her choir : little red boxes containing lots of little items each related to some aspect of love.  I can’t remember exactly, but like “a poem, to read and share”, “a piece of ribbon to bring together the ones you love”, “a plaster, to remind you that broken hearts heal” things like that.  She’s determined to help them think differently about Valentine’s Day today.

She also invited me around to share in their new family tradition of Valentine’s Chocolate Fondue complete with red napkins and heart-embellished fondue forks.  When its shared with family and friends, there’s no need to be single when you can be together.

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Love is a risk and if Valentine’s Day can be a way to celebrate the fact that the risk is worth taking and that we are not alone in any part of that, then I’m up for that.

And chocolate fondue.

But perhaps there’s no need to boast about your PERFECT life on Facebook…??

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Filed under dating, friends, heart, love, perspective, relationships, singleness

Who’s in charge here?

You’ll not be surprised that this small corner should link to a blogpost like this about submission in marriage…

http://www.emergingmummy.com/2012/01/in-which-love-looks-like-real-marriage.html

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Filed under beauty, bible, grace, heart, love, men, perfect love, relationships, women

Reckless Abandon

I am terrified of being myself.

I feel strength and passion within me that don’t fit with the ‘nice girl’ image that seems most acceptable to the world.

I fear stepping out as me for two main reasons.

One : My strength and passion demand a confidence and courage that would undoubtedly be intimidating to most men, thus lowering my chances even further of being fallen in love with and married.  The ridiculous thing about this is that I do not want a husband who would want me to be less than myself or what I am called to be.  I long to want that for a husband and for a husband who longs for that for me.  So to think of being a shadow of myself just so that I could marry someone is preposterous.

Two : I still fear that my strength and passion are nothing special.  That really all I have is this ball of longing for great things I cannot name and therefore cannot offer; that I cannot work out what it is I am meant to be doing and that even if I do, it won’t be anything worth making a fuss over.  These feelings are also ludicrous because why do I feel like it needs to be something that others would be able to see and to measure?

I want to be me with reckless abandon.  Like the way God created his world : tucked away animals and plants in parts of the world no human eye would ever see, flung myriads of stars into space for sheer joy rather than for counting, made music and painting and poetry…

I want to give and receive love in that way – not in the tight-fisted manner of fear and self-protection, but with freedom and joy and reckless abandon

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Filed under beauty, fear, freedom, God, heart, hope, love, risk

The problem with being single – 2.5: Sometimes you lose your voice

The ole stats have been low of late ( 😉 ), so thought I’d post something to make you sit up and pay attention…!  Couldn’t quite decide if this was number 3 of this series as technically the first one I called ‘Mark II ‘ was a cop out, then secondly I posted an edited version of  the original post so anyway… 2.5…

Was chatting to a married friend recently who was articulating some of the things I have long felt niggling at the back of my mind about Christian men.  It was a breath of fresh air to hear her talk so freely about some of the wrong attitudes men appear to have when it comes to dating because you see, the problem with being single is that sometimes you lose your voice.

It was okay for her to comment on the tendancy of Christian men to choose partners first (if not wholly) on consideration of physical attractiveness before going on to consider character; it was okay for her to comment on how often Christian men shy away from any woman who could hold her own in a debate (theological or otherwise), build her own flat-pack furniture or earn a greater salary than he.  It was okay for her because its clear that she’s speaking up for others as she herself is happily married.

Somehow it doesn’t feel okay for me to say those things.  Somehow it sounds self-serving and bitter and sad.  In my worse moments, perhaps it is self-serving and bitter, but in the depths of my gut I truly long for men and women to know and love each other as God has made them.  Too often women feel the need to lose weight, buy clothes, shut up, dumb down in order to be considered as dateable never mind marriagable.  Too often we’re compelled to be someone other than our true selves.

I don’t just long for that for women, this is not just a ‘women’s issue’.  I also long that men would so set aside their own fear of not matching up to the world’s standards in their relationships and achievements that they could truly begin to live in love and partnership with women.

But I’d never say that without great fear and trepidation because the problem with being single is that sometimes you lose your voice.

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MY Part in the ‘What’ and the ‘How’ of Discipleship

There’s been a bit of chat of late about discipleship, in a ‘following Jesus’ kind of way.  The definition of what it is has been in discussion over at Transfarmer‘s corner and by extension, how it is done.  MY questions follow on from that…

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A significant temptation as a ‘professional’ Christian (along with flashing your vast wads of cash…) is to allow the desire to see people change as they grasp the truth about God to become confused with the desire to see people change as they grasp the truth about God from what we teach them.

In fact, its maybe not so much a temptation as an everyday hazard of the job.

The thing is… it is God who changes us, isn’t it?  Its a bit like leading worship in a way – you can prepare are the beautiful songs and music and readings and prayers you want, but unless God shows people’s hearts something of himself, then a worship leader is just singing a nice wee song and sometimes not even that!  But when your heart longs to see people impacted by Jesus, plus the added pressure of it kinda sorta being a big part of your full-time job you it feels extra specially important that you do it well.

I want to be assured that my ‘methods’ of relating to people, discipling people, teaching people are the best and most effective for spurring change and growth.  I want to know that I’m saying the right things, doing the right things to show people the absolute beauty of the gospel of Jesus.  I want them to see it, taste it, live it, breathe it…

The Spirit of God is at work in me and therefore there is goodness and truth and purity in my motives, but I’m still in a world affected by sin, so there are selfish reasons as to why I want to get it right.  I want to be able to compare myself with those who’ve gone before and those who will come behind and feel that I measure up just as well as (or better than) them.  Oh! for the day we can look at each other in contentment and joy in the display of the multi-coloured, much-varied, manifold wisdom of God in the tapestry of His church!

So anyway… let’s assume for a minute that my motives are spotless and think about this.  Discipleship.  Are there methods to the madness?  What are those ‘difficult questions’ that so many claim they need to be asked?  What does ‘being intentional’ really look like?  Okay, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model, but surely there must be some principles somewhere to work from?

Really my question is this: If true change is brought about by the Holy Spirit, how do I BEST play my part in facilitating that work?  Any suggestions?

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Filed under change, church, discipleship, God, gospel, grace, heart, hope, questions

Ce n’était pas moi qui le lui ai donné…

 

 

 

Il est très facile à tomber amoureux de la France.  Le plus difficile, c’est de convaincre la France à t’aimer en retour.

 

Elle est fière, la France ; la fille ainée de l’Eglise catholique, la bien aimée de la Raison…  Elle est bien consciente de ses fautes, ses faiblesses, mais elle se cache devant les étrangers – non pas en dessous de la table comme une fille petite et timide mais elle se cache en se vantant en toute sa splendeur : l’histoire, l’intelligence, la mode ; Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité… Mais elle cache son vrai cœur.

 

Au cœur, elle est perdue.  Elle se batte comme un oiseau qui s’est entré par la fenêtre et n’arrive pas à la retrouver ; elle glisse comme une araignée qui s’est promené dans le lavabo.

 

On m’as dit  « Merci d’avoir un cœur pour la France ».  La vérité ?  Si mon cœur appartient à la France, ce n’était pas moi qui le lui ai donné.  Si c’était à moi, j’aurais le garder de toute ma force.  Pourquoi donner ton cœur pour quelqu’un qui ne le veut pas ?

 

« Que votre attitude soit identique à celle de Jésus-Christ : lui qui est de condition divine, il n’a pas regardé son égalité avec Dieu comme un butin à préserver, mais il s’est dépouillé lui – même… jusqu’à la mort… »  Philippiens 2 :5-8

 

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Filed under culture, fear, France/French, heart, love, random, travel