I just had the most amazing Bible study ever. I guess it would be more accurate to say that God was most definitely working through Bible study tonight. Wow. I came back and sat down with my journal and filled 6 pages effortlessly, and I feel like I could still go on. I am so amazed at what God has done tonight and the things He has shown me and the way that He has brought me to this point and to these understandings with such grace and love and perfect timing. Oh man. If I continue like this, it’ll probably end up as a long paragraph of “oh wow”s and “wow God is so good”, and even that wouldn’t do justice to the way I am feeling right now. But you probably don’t want to read that. Not that I am writing to please you or anything, but I do actually want to share some of the actual content from the Bible study. So, I think the easiest way would be to just take some extracts from my journal, along with the notes I took at Bible study. Here goes…
Tuesday, 26 April 2011, 9.45pm
Wow. Thank You for Bible study tonight. I know You love me… I took notes in the previous pages, but I don’t think they capture what an amazing lesson it was for me. Singlehood is a gift. I think I’d been coming to that realization bit by bit. Or rather, You’d been preparing me to accept it, just by like, putting in me a desire to do all these things that I might not be able to do if there were someone else in my life whom I had to be accountable to (with possessions and etc)… and it’s that as opposed to being like, “No, I need people, I can’t be on my own…” and “I’m not normal, there’s something wrong with me…”. But there’s another side to that too. Gosh, so many things to reflect on!
I feel a huge sense of freedom, and as often happens with huge rushes of emotion, the dizziness at the feeling can cause you to ignore the finer points. Thankfully, God is graceful, and He helped to temper that rush through a friend’s prayer for me during prayer time at the end of the study. She prayed for me to know which freedoms You are calling me to take hold of, and which freedoms You are calling me to sacrifice. I had been so focused on the freedom of singlehood that we talked about, not even considering the possibility that we are sometimes called to sacrifice certain freedoms. I am reminded of what a friend once told me: People are not here for us to escape, but to love. So anyway, the liberation I’m feeling in huge amounts is very specific, I think. It is liberation from the lies that I’ve believed for years – namely, that there is something wrong with me and that’s why no boy likes me and why I’m not in a relationship.
It goes hand-in-hand with another thing I’m learning – liberation from the lie that I need to be able to have ‘deep’ conversations with people when I meet up with them over a meal. I’ve always felt that pressure, but somehow have not been able to rise to it. The truth is that we are all made differently, and maybe I wasn’t made to have those deep conversations in that manner – on a regular basis, with the same people… Perhaps, and this is what I have come to believe based on experience, God just brings me to different people at different, seemingly random times, which are, of course, His perfect timing. I do have deep conversations with people – just not in a predictable way, but rather, wherever God calls and leads me.
And that leads me to the disclaimer to the first point. The freedom I feel to be single is different from a freedom to be alone. It is NOT indicating that I can be a lone ranger. It is NOT saying that it’s okay that I sometimes don’t think I have friends I can be completely, gut-wrenchingly honest with. It’s important to have friends to whom you can be accountable and who will hold you accountable. Friends you can be vulnerable with. Ah, there’s that ‘v‘ word again. God wasn’t kidding when He told me He was sending me to Carleton to learn to be vulnerable…
In case you can’t read that…
Why do we not like to talk about it?
- It feels like we’re admitting a failure
- …But we’re not!
God made us to desire companionship – it’s natural!
Bible study leader’s sharing:
- “Nobody likes me. I’m not lovable”.
We come up with tons of reasons to back this up, but they’re lies!
- Boy comes along and likes you: “Wow, someone likes me! It’s actually possible for someone to like me!”
Realization that God loves her too.
- Post-boy: Need to learn God’s love again, without the help of the boy
Must not be dependent on him to know God’s love.
- Thinking of singlehood as the absence of a relationship, rather than a gift
- Letting singleness lie to us – confirm all the negative thoughts we have of ourselves
- Letting singleness make us afraid – of being alone, of letting people in to see the ‘real’ us
- Letting singleness make us bitter, jealous and angry
- Letting singleness shatter our trust in God – why didn’t You provide?
- Ignoring singleness and the desire to have a significant other – not good, because you’re not dealing with it
- Idolizing marriage – the attitude that we just have to bear with this period of singleness
The good news: Singleness is a gift
- 1 Corinthians 7:7 onwards
- What kind of a gift is it?
There are some gifts that we are reluctant to receive, but do anyway, out of social politeness and obligation. Singleness is not that kind of gift.
- v32-35: Benefits/advantages of being single
– Being single allows you to be “concerned about the Lord’s affairs”, “that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord”
– more time, flexibility (if you want to do something, you can do it without worrying about whether your partner/kids/etc also want to do it or not)
– able to give away your last $ (same as above; a married man would not be able to do this because he has a responsibility to provide for his family)
– able to define yourself as an individual very clearly, rather than being tied up with someone else (runaway bride! eggs!)
– time, energy to develop close friendships
*Singlehood need not last forever for it to be a gift. If you are not in a relationship right now, you are in singlehood. Think of it as an opportunity, available for a limited time. There is an urgency to make the most of it!
- Write notes of truth to yourself! e.g. “I AM LOVABLE”
- Start believing that you are loved – it is an active process. It takes effort.
- Practice being vulnerable with a group of girl (same gender as you) friends
DON’T think that you shouldn’t share your problems with them because you’ll drain them or bug them, etc. That will only lead to reinforce your belief that you are unlovable.
Be vulnerable without being afraid.
- Be patient – does NOT mean that you ignore your desires!
- Be honest with God about being unhappy.
Philippians 4:12-13, the singlehood edition:
“I have learned the secret of being content, whether in singlehood or a relationship; I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Song: Caedmon’s Call – Table for Two (click!)