You’ll not be surprised that this small corner should link to a blogpost like this about submission in marriage…
Category Archives: perfect love
Darkness is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good – or rather of God.
In giving his creatures love, creator God gave his creatures the choice of not-love. In plucking that fruit from that tree, the creatures sought Me-ness which is, indeed, not-love. In the way that love is light, not-love is the absence of that light and in the way that love leads to light, to the Light, not-love leads to darkness, to not-light.
Where there is light, there is no room for darkness; where there is love, there can ultimately be no not-love.
Creator God promises to one day reveal the fullness of Light to those who choose Love. Not only will those who chose not-love not be able to support that Light, neither will that light be able to support its darkness – there will simply be no room. Darkness is nothingness, light is fullness. Where there is fullness there can be no nothingness, no not-fullness.
For those who live in Love, who live in Light, they will no longer know not-love or not-light. Where there is fullness, there can be no nothingness, no not-fullness. If not-love and not-light are allowed entry, there is not fullness – Love and Light are not full.
One day not-love, not-light and not-fullness will be put away and Love and Light will reign in all His fullness. And we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
(Oh yeah, oh yeaaahhh)
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.
Now, I know I can be a drama queen… But, seriously – I just heard one of the best talks I have possibly ever heard. The following is my attempt to share a little of the awe and worship inspired in me…
Beginning as what appeared to be a history lesson in the modulation of the definition of truth over time, I just knew it would be worth the work to stay focussed and follow his lead.
It was all really well presented and explained (if a little boring for your average student): the state (ie the church) used to define the Truth – “We say it, its true”; then science became dictator of what was true by declaring that if it could present proof of something, it must be true (and by implication, things like faith and religion which could not be proved must not exist…); then it gradually became the more recent “there is no absolute truth” (which of course in itself is ridiculous as – in its very stating – it claims absolute truth. Duh.).
So, then he talked about the Bible and self-referential, propostional truth (All males are men, Jesus was male so Jesus must be a man). I got a little lost at this point, but it was all vaguely familiar from stuff I did at Bible College and in my final year French degree philosophy module – maybe someone else can fill in this gap, cos I haven’t grasped it well enough to re-explain it here…
Cue a tiny bit of zoning out as I try to write something down in my notes that will help me later on…
Suddenly, he begins to talk about the invitation the Bible offers to discover relational truth. Truth that is shown to be true by the experience of it and the effect that it has and a little flicker of light begins to dance in the peripheral of my mind…
He begins to talk about looking at the moon from a hill, and how one might call to mind numerous scientific facts about the nature of – truth about – the moon: its so many miles away from earth, its made of such-and-such, reflects so much of the sun’s light etc etc etc… But, then he talks about sitting on the same hill, looking at the same moon, but in this scenario you’re falling in love with the person you are with and suddenly the moon has altogether much more significance than a bunch of scientific trivia. It no longer signifies the amount of sunlight it reflects back to earth- it casts a romantic glow over your encounter with love. It no longer signifies the amount of miles it is away from earth – it serves to remind you how big the world is and how glad you are to have someone to share it with…
My heart starts to beat faster as the flicker of light grows and glows to an incredible illumination of the genius of God (my puny attempt to name the glorious sovereignty and omniscience etc of my God…).
You see, God began to tell his people what he was like, how he intended his creation to be. He chose Israel to display his character to the nations with laws that cared for the poor and needy, secured rest for the busy, gave shelter for fugitives, brought forgiveness to screw-ups… But he didn’t stop there.
He became flesh and dwelt among us.
Creator God engaging with and participating in a world of broken humanity.
He took those laws and lived out what they really meant, his whole life demonstrates how the law works out in practice – ie relationally! Things like “Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man”. (Man was not made for grace, but grace was made for Man? Can that be right? I don’t know if that’s right. But I’m gonna write it…test it, try it, eat it, drink it, breathe it… and see what happens). By His life, he invites us to experience his truth, invites us to even enter the relational nature of his being: Father, Son and Spirit in perfect relationship with each other.
“I am the way, the truth and the life”. Yes, we need creeds and study and books and practice, but it is in incarnating the gospel – the good news of Jesus – that we see and know God’s truth at work in us and through us! Theology without faith is dead – dry bones in a desert valley.
In engaging with the world around us – the undesirables, the suffering, the enemy – we truly begin to understand the absolutely true-ness of God’s love, justice and mercy… and the Truth sets us free. I KNOW this! I’ve seen it before, but I’d forgotten. How could I have forgottten?
Why did I get so excited? Not just because I’m a drama queen – but because its just what I need. My God teaches me in just the way I need. So often I feel inadequate in discussing theology, incapable of understanding and articulating the truth, incapacitated in dealing and engaging with hurt and guilt and conflict… But to hear again that God came down to show me how? That he will show me more of that truth as I follow and obey his call? That he IS proving his truth in and through me in a way that even I can totally understand?
The difference between space rock reflecting sunlight and moonlit romance.
The difference between a DIY manual and a constant workmate.
The difference between systems of theology and a relationship with the Living God.
The difference between death and LIFE.
That makes all the difference in the world.
There have been several posts brewing in my illustrious mind in recent days and there may well be a sudden blogging boom in this small corner of the ‘parallel universe’. This one, however, is most unexpected – or at least it was until it began to brew as I sat in the office today. Who knows where it will go? Who knows when it will stop? Watch for the sign of the lollipop…
Last night at approximately 16.47, I was in a car accident. From henceforth it shall be called
“The Great Crash of January 2008”.
Panic not, I am – as you can (hopefully) tell – still alive to tell the tale (soon to be the only 365-able part of yesterday). So, in true anything-and-everything-is-blog-fodder style, we must go back to bygone days of yore in order to set the scene for said Great Crash…
*cue wobbly flashback screen*
I remember my friend Roberta and I taking a notion to cycle a couple of miles downhill to the local leisure centre when we were about 13. Great idea at the time, not so good when going back UP the hill (the road with the graveyards if anyone is familiar with the Valley Leisure Centre). It was half way through the uphill homeward slog that we composed our should-have-been-a-hit-record “Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo I wanna car” (I still remember the tune!). Do you remember being 13 and the driving test glory days of 17 are a million years away? Painful. I longed to drive ever since that day.
Eventually the day of my test rolled round. I passed. First time. Oh the freedom! Oh the joy! Oh the days of two years free insurance! It was wonderful. I bought sunglasses, I made mix tapes, I sniffed magic trees… and a passionate love affair with driving began.
So, for two happy, happy years I trundled away in a little dark blue Corsa with ne’er a scare nor bump. Then the free insurance ran out. The first quote we got was actually in the region of £5000. I artistic-license you not. Crazy. We shopped around and around to try and get a better deal, but – alas – no affordable insurance for little 19 and a half year old me.
Thus began the Driving-less Years.
The human spirit is resilient and so my life went on. I became accustomed to my lack of freedom and social life-less existence, sometimes aided by car-insured friends, sometimes dependant upon moody-driver-always-late-when-its-raining buses. But – oh! – how I always longed for those heady days of “mumsie-pays-for-my-petrol” splendour.
Three long non-driving years ensued. It was only when considering a second year at Bible College that I began to pray seriously for the miraculous provision of a car. Four bus journeys a day and no mates had really begun to wear thin! For ages I hummed and haa-ed whether to do another year at Bible College or to move to France. (Who needs a car in France?! Its only in Northern Ireland that a fifteen minute drive on clear roads takes one hour to travel on two buses.) I finally made my decision and informed the college registrar that yes, she could tear up the one-year certificate I’d already received at my graduation and start writing the two-year diploma one instead – I was coming back. She said: “Oh great! It’ll be good to have you around. You don’t happen to need a car do you?”
“Yeah, I got a phone call from a man who wanted to donate his son’s old car to someone who needed it. Do you want it?”
Does a bear…?!?
(“I saw a bear once”)
Thus began a beautiful relationship with a lil red escort called Samuel (which means ‘asked of God’). This is Sam:
Isn’t he lovely?!
For 18 wonderful, free-and-independant months, Sam and I (and sometimes Daisy, but that’s another story) chugged merrily all over Ireland (well, the North and Sligo- do any other parts matter?). It was so wonderful! *sniff, sniff*
Then disaster struck… Sam one day began to choke (she conveniently applies artistic license in omitting to tell the reader exactly why he began to ‘choke’) and nothing could be done to save him from a scrap yard fate.
Well done, good and faithful steed, well done and fare-thee-well…
(moment of reverent silence)
The period of mourning over and a brief flirtation with a red Corsa later, the search began for my perfect car: a Ford Focus. Not exactly the stuff of dreams I hear you cry, but I didn’t want anything too flash (only partly because of money issues!). I wanted solid, reliable, quietly attractive with room in the boot for a guitar. Several debates took place as to whether I should be waiting for the much-desired Focus or just test-drive whatever came along in the meantime. Yes, many drew the obvious parallels to the husband/wife search. Honestly, can’t a girl even get a car without people over-analysing?! Gosh.
Then I saw him… the One. A sleek, affordable Focus, all mine for the taking!!! His name shall be call-ed Milo because… well, because girls have to give their car a name. Its, like, the law.
(again conveniently omitting the exact details of this naming process for fear of being deemed completely bonkers. The Daisy story is definitely worse, though…)
That was 11 months ago and Milo and I have been very happy ever since. Bit of a wobble with a recent screw loose (!) but otherwise, great.
And then Tuesday came…
There we were, driving from the North Coast to the Glens of Gormley (or the Rock of Fergus to be more precise) when all of a sudden a numpty – SMACK! – bangs into the back of us at a roundabout: My neck! My CAAARRRR! MY goodness – its pouring out here! Neck and shoulder banjaxed, a new bumper required.
*cue vast waves of sympathy*
You know, I envisaged this blog to be about the annoying-ness of the current blame-and-claim culture; the paranoia that makes you wary of saying anything more than ‘Give me your contact and insurance details, mate, then nark off’. But telling a random story about the cars in my life so far has been much more fun.
For me 🙂
The moral of the story is, don’t expect anything more intelligent from a self-confessed un-intellectual. At least until the whiplash goes down…
Okay, so on the train the other day, my friend added weight to some of the rambling thoughts that this original ‘singleness’ post contained and so that, along with various requests and encouragements means I’m posting it again…
Am I brave enough to post this…???
I think (in my naive, not-quite-thought-through way) one of the biggest difficulties in being single (once you get over what other people think) is not having that one person to talk to when you’re having ‘a day’. So, like, today my heart is full of a bunch of stuff I don’t know how to explain. Stuff I’m excited about, stuff I’d love to see happen, stuff I need to explore more (I’m reluctant to use the word ‘passion’ for fear of people thinking I’m talking about sex. I’m not.) But, you know – having that one person you can phone at any point who’ll just know where you’re coming from and know just what to ask to help you explain yourself. Or something.
But, you know – then I was thinking… If it were me who had to be that person at the other end of the phone, I’d feel a lot of pressure. A LOT of pressure. I mean, would I always get it? Would I always ask the right questions and have the right answers? I don’t think so.
Methinks then perhaps I have (yet another) wrong perception of how relationships work. I’m sure its not just a girl thing – we can’t be the only ones with skewed ideas. But I seriously DO think that Hollywood movies etc have a lot to answer for. “Female Porn” (could this be the dodgiest looking link ever?!? promise its nothing untoward!) I’ve heard it called – romantic movies that play with the emotions and perpetuate the ‘Prince Charming’ myth making girls everywhere dissatisfied with their lot. I’ve never really been all that into chick flicks, but I’m still aware that a lot of my ideas about how men (and women) should be in relationships have come from the media. Not good.
However, back to today’s skewed philosophy…
I’m aware that God is really the only one who I should ever expect to fully get it and I suppose that’s something precious that I should revel in, rather than try to replace by having great expectations of someone who’s just as flawed as me. I’m just not sure what that looks like, or how it works. How can my desire for conversation be fulfilled with an invisible God? How can I feel like he gets it other than just reading that he knows me inside out? How can he ask the right questions to help me help myself understand when I don’t hear an audible voice? I don’t understand. All I know is that the good news of the gospel is that we have freedom in Christ – and I don’t want anyone to take that freedom from me because of their expectations of how I should or should not be and even less so do I want to take that freedom from anyone else.
I love that some of my students can be more clued in than me. It means that I can sit back and nod ‘wisely’ over my coffee while they share their thoughts and then I learn from them! Keeps ya humble… But anyway, one of them has this theory about a life of singleness not being as daunting a prospect if you could be guaranteed real community. I think there’s a lot in it (apart from the slightly Home-and-Away-Selena’s-been-sucked-into-a-cult-commune-storyline flashbacks). If you were part of an authentic community where you could live, love and serve without people asking if there’s anyone ‘on the go’ or assuming that there needs to be, imagine the freedom and joy it would bring!
The thing is, though, that’s not just a principle for singleness, is it? Imagine if married couples were also part of authentic community which reminds them of the self-giving love of Jesus; in loving and giving of themselves not just to each other, but to those around them, surely their relationship would be placed firmly in the perspective of God’s purpose…?
This is the point where my friend’s comments came in…
A good friend mentioned how in the city where her and her boyfriend previously lived, they were quite isolated and spent a lot of time just the two of them. Of course, she wasn’t regretting the time they spent together, but said that where they’re at now they’ve found community and are thoroughly enjoying being a couple within that. I imagine that isolation as a couple would bring yet more pressure and a sense of disconnection that can’t be healthy. Not only does isolation rob the couple of community, but robs the community of the couple.
Equally so the individual.
(Here’s the bit where I expostulate about an applicable lesson to my present and future life)
So, I’m single and right now that’s okay by me. I mean, I’d like to get married eventually (when Mr Darcy makes it to the North Coast), but I’m just not there yet. If I do, or don’t, though – I’m created to live in relationship and so I’ll continue to wear my heart on my sleeve and pursue authentic community, trusting that, by the grace of God, I will receive in return as others around me do the same.
That’s not to say, of course, I won’t keep an eye on Lily’s enterprise… For research purposes you understand.
It reminded me about a scene I watched in an episode of Party of Five the other day… Bailey, the 2nd oldest of the unnaturally good-looking Salinger clan is waxing lyrical about his feelings for a girl he’s trying to steal off some other poor bloke. He’s meant to be 16 and he’s talking about his feelings and his deepest desires and generally turning all female knees to jelly. But, seriously – he’s meant to be 16!!!
Then High School Musical’s male lead is Mr Popular basketball player who not only sings like an angel, but is so sensitive and romantic that even the dragon-lady Drama teacher seems to fall for him.
Is it any wonder girls’ heads are screwed up?!
There is, perhaps, much to be said for Mr Darcy’s painfully blunt confession that despite his better judgement he admires Elizabeth Bennet and wishes to marry her. But hang on… even his stern ‘I ardently love and esteem you’ melts us like butter.
Is there any hope for women everywhere who’ve grown up on squishy Hollywood movies? Or respectable BBC productions for that matter? Even the Planet Earth docu-series includes scenes of a male bird diligently cleaning up his display patch before doing his special wooing-dance for the apple of his eye…!