Singleness and Grace Part 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next couple posts will be on the same theme and in several parts. They will reflect on a lot of my journey as a single person.

I don’t subscribe to the ‘Singleness is a gift’ millieu. Maybe it’s just me. But I do believe it is a Journey and that God gives us Grace for whatever journey he takes us on.

As I approached my 30s and then was single at 30 (apparently a big curse, where you’ll grow warts and be unattractive to the male species for ever, especially if you have cats, like me), I found it very difficult. It wasn’t my plan. I didn’t want to be single at 30, I wanted to be married, with lots of little children running around. but it hadn’t happened and I was devastated.

I felt like I was failing somehow, constantly analysing myself for a fatal flaw that must be a big turn off to all the young men I knew. I had a house, car, good job, I was highly educated, I went to church every sunday, I read the Bible and studied the word. I participated in church events- I should be a catch right?

Wrong.

Why exactly was that wrong? Why was I uninteresting to the male species? It felt like a burden at times.

Looking back I know I put too much pressure on myself. And yet I can still remember the deep sadness within me, the strange feeling of grief that I was missing something I never knew. Like children. Marriage.

People would tell me, just have more faith. Go meet more people. embrace your singleness and be all that you can be. I even met people who told me, ‘Singleness is the best, it allows you to be more Godly.’I was told to support marriage, even when I wasn’t married. Support children, even when I didn’t have any. While both of those things were crucially important, they almost served to rub salt into an already raw wound.

I searched the scriptures doggedly. I prayed every day with all the deep longings of my heart welling in my words. I felt like the verses from Psalm 77:7-9.

“Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

When I would come home to my little house, empty, with only cats to keep me company, I would feel those verses most keenly.

And then about 3 years ago. I learned some things……

(The next post will continue this story).

Choose your own Ending.

Image

My Brother in 1979, 3.5 years before he died.

When I was a child I loved those Choose-your-own-adventure stories. Anyone, remember those?

I loved that I could choose my own ending, if I wasn’t happy with the original. Being a writer, I would often go away and rewrite my own ending anyway. I wanted an ending that satisfied my needs.

I think sometimes our lives are like that. That we pick and choose what adventures we want, hoping that our ending will satisfy us and then we wonder if maybe there was something better we could have chosen.

Ever feel that way? Where you wake up and think “this can’t be my life. I had so many other plans. So many good and wonderful things planned. And yet, how did I get here? This life isn’t what I had planned.”

When my parents were trying to grapple with the loss of their son, and I, in small childish ways, also tried to cope with the absence of a sibling, death was a very deep and painful adventure. Weeping, grief, anger, questioning, they became the new reality. It wasn’t planned. My brother’s death was spontaneous. It happened within 24 hours. Nobody could have (or would have) planned that. My parents would have given anything to rewrite that adventure.

I made a lot of bad and terrible decisions as a young person, many times fuelled by the ‘missing-ness’ I still felt in my heart. Even later when I was getting my life back together I had days where I wished I could choose a different life.

Don’t you wish there was another adventure you could choose? That these present circumstances were changeable? That you could easily turn to a new page, and write your own story instead?

See, the problem with made up stories is they are just that- made up. They appeal to us because they aren’t real. They never were.

But reality is fact. It causes us to be real. It causes us to take all the small increments of our lives and make them count for something, otherwise there is nothing to live for- count for. If our lives count for nothing, then what on earth are we here for? Why do we go through such terrible, hurtful things if our lives don’t count for anything? If there truly was no purpose to our lives, then what is the point of so much suffering?

These are philosophical questions that have been debated for centuries. And I’m not going to get into a philosophical discussion.

But I do know, that my heart is not satisfied. And as a human I am bent on walking away from God.

If you don’t believe in Him, then hear me out for just a second.

If there were a way out of the pain of reality would you choose it?

If there were a way to be happy again would you choose that?

If you could have a joyful satisfying life, with peace and hope, wouldn’t you want that instead?

For you to choose all of these things, then you have to recognize that there needs to be a greater purpose for our lives. There has be something that our realities count towards. Otherwise it is pointless.

I know I would rather choose an adventure, where I may not always know what twists and turns are waiting for me, but I do know how it ends.

I confess I used the read the ending of books first. I needed to know how it ended, if it was worth the reading journey.

When I was attending some writing classes the tutor said, “make sure you know how the story ends and write that first”.

He has written it. He has written our ending, and for Christians it isn’t an ending- it’s an eternal life of hope and joy and praising God, ultimate satisfaction in the one we call King.

But if it only ends with death, and there is nothing after that, it seems a pretty lame ending to me.

If you go to see a movie and it has taken you on an amazing, thrilling adventure only to have all the characters die at the end for no good reason, wouldn’t you feel a little ripped off? I would. I hate movies like that. If you’re going to make me sit through 2 hours of fight scenes at least let them get somewhere in the end. ‘Please let them, finally destroy the ring…’ LOL

So, go ahead and choose your adventure. But make sure you know how it ends. Because ultimately it’s the ending that really counts.

A Strange Honour

God entrusts us with the gift of suffering, so we can share his grace with others.

In my blog surfing, and website trawling, I came across the above quote on Desiring God. It really spoke to me. in early 2012, I went through an experience that made me feel like my world had fallen to pieces. At the time I was so lost in the pain, it was hard to think about even the smallest things, like cooking dinner, brushing my hair, or buying food for my cats. I remember being at the shopping centre trying to buy cat food. I could barely even remember what brand it was I usually buy. I couldn’t calculate the difference in prices between brands (I’m such a nerd shopper sometimes!) and I couldn’t even remember what aisle the pet food was in. I remember having to tell myself to breathe, and realizing I was in the laundry aisle. I’d been standing in the laundry aisle for about 5 minutes. And a sad song came on the radio. My throat was so constricted I found it hard to breathe, almost like I was suffocating. A moment of panic seized me as I realized I couldn’t find the cat food, but I couldn’t standing here listening to this song and silently suffocating. I’m not sure in the moment I was even thinking about whether or not my pain had a purpose. There is much written on the topic of suffering and we can’t even scratch the surface in one blog post. BUt I know I was in survival mode at the point of my greatest pain. I had spent a lot of time reading the word, surrounding myself with family and friends, but at the end of the day the greatest pain found me when I was alone. When I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular. When i was simply trying to muddle through one day at a time. But slowly as the pieces of my heart began to heal and I drew more and more from scriptures, I began to ponder about suffering.

I found a quote by GK Chesterton.

The one thing that would make suffering intolerable would be the thought that it was systematically inflicted upon sinners. On the other hand, the doctrine which makes it most endurable is exactly the opposite doctrine, that suffering may be a strange honour and not a vulgar punishment.

G. K. Chesterton

My suffering was a strange honour. It had a purpose. I would live through it to share it with others. This was a magnanimous discovery for me. And then I was reminded of times I spent sitting with friends in Cafes. Sharing with them my love and tears when their hearts were devastated by similar things. The deep kinship that helped them get through it, the same way I would. The knowledge of true empathy of one who has shared pain was precious to them.

Maybe that’s why I loved the Desiring God quote. Why it resonated with my heart and experience. Perhaps because it is a picture of Jesus. His suffering. His heart of empathy that has walked the road before us.

So if you are suffering now, and you feel like you have nothing left to give take comfort in the knowledge that God knows it and shares it. And He gives you grace for the journey. The following poem by Annie Flint really sums up what I have been considering in this post.

HE GIVETH MORE GRACE

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

AMEN!!

*disclaimer: no linked websites in this post have paid me to post this. I just linked them to be helpful. 🙂

Festivit-teas

teacup I have thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas season this year, despite a little sadness from being away from my immediate family. However, my boyfriend’s family has been more than welcoming so I have immensely enjoyed the new Christmas memories (and cooler weather!). I’m blessed indeed.

It’s been a while since I did a tea post and I’m well over due for one. One of my many wonderful gifts was a new pretty tea cup. Its very japanese inspired with big blooms of camellias (I think), and lots of Blue and gold markings. Its really beautiful. I’ve nicknamed it Dandy. because, well, its a dandy. hehe

I was itching to try it out and decided to use one of my new teas, another gift. English Strawberry and Cream is a black large leaf tea, from Jeffersons Tea in Hobart, Tasmania. When you open the packet there is a delightful strawberry and cream scent. Reminds me of those strawberry and cream lollies you could get when I was a kid. The leaf tea (I adore leaf tea!) features a natural strawberry and cream flavour with delightful little strawberry chunks. It gives the tea nice berry over tones. And the colour is not the usual caramel colour, but a nice reddish strawberry coloured beverage. I added just the smallest amount of sweetener and this gave it a slight nostalgic sweetness (those lollies again), perfect for the flavouring. And of course no tea is complete without some festive shortbread to

tea

accompany it.

I’m giving English Strawberry and Cream a 4 Star zing rating.

4 star zing rating

Posted in Tea