Church and the ‘Other’ Single

woman experiencing shameI frequently come across articles related to singles written from a Christian perspective for the purpose of giving advice to young single ladies about a host of issues related to singleness. Topics range from waiting for the right person, to being single and satisfied, avoiding sexual immorality, characteristics of a godly marriage, and so on. The thrusts of these articles point to one thing – make the right choices so you don’t end up being like ‘those singles’. You know, the ones that didn’t wait, had sex outside of marriage, maybe even had babies out of wedlock.  Do the right thing so you can have the right kind of life.

But what happens to those other singles that didn’t do the right thing? What if they are in the church as single parents (notice this same standard does not apply to single fathers)? What if they made they’re mistakes then came to Christ or even made mistakes while in Christ? Newsflash – it happens.

Not only that but there are other kinds of singles in the church aside from young, never been married, virgin single woman who wants to be married. There are older men or women who have longed for marriage but it just hasn’t happened. There are those who are quite content to be single. There are those who have been divorced (either before they became a Christian or after). There are widows (like myself). There are those whose spouse abandoned them or even those who had to escape from domestic violent situations. Some may have done all the right things but ended up with bad results. But all are single! Continue reading

Re-evaluating Spiritual Leadership

I grinned with delight as I read this article the other day from Christianity Today Her.meneutics, ‘He’s Just Not a Spiritual Leader’, and Other Christian Dating Myths. The author tells of the criteria being applied in dating relationships of male leadership that may lead some women to discard great relationships. The criteria asserts that if men don’t take initiative (translated leadership) on all spiritual matters and demonstrate a capacity to lead women in God’s truth, then they are not suitable leaders, ergo not good marriage material.

The author rightly challenges this definition;

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the complaint: “He’s not a spiritual leader.” It seems that initiating prayer, Bible study, and other similar devotional activities is a litmus test for male spiritual leadership in some branches of the American church. And the common complaint by women on our campus is that men are failing in spiritual leadership; they aren’t passing the litmus test. They aren’t initiating.

But after Shawn’s comment that day, I started wondering about all the godly men who may have other spiritual gifts—just not the ones traditionally considered “male” spiritual gifts. For example, what about men who have the gift of mercy or hospitality or service or encouragement, and who are full of the fruits of the Spirit? Do we devalue them simply because they’re not at the helm or out in front but rather operating alongside their partner? Is initiating devotional activities within a relationship really what it means to lead?

I wonder whether part of the disappointment and tension among Christian women stems from the fact that they have teaching or pastoral gifts, while their boyfriends or husbands possess other gifts wrongly considered “feminine.” Is it really contradicting God’s will when a woman initiates prayer and Bible study with her significant other? What if her partner models a life characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control? Is this not the Jesus life? Is such a man being derelict in his spiritual duties to wife and family? Continue reading

Life in The Moment, Love and Everday Living

the moment_kurt warner2I recently got hooked on this new reality show called The Moment. Former MVP quarterback, Kurt Warner hosts the show that provides a life changing opportunity for selected contestants. Each contestant was nominated by a loved one to live out their dream job, which they could not pursue because life got in the way. In other words, they were on a particular track and greater priorities took over causing them to abandon their goals. Most pretty much settled into a normal life filled with everyday responsibilities that many would label mundane.

For each episode, the contestant is given a test to see where they are and then paired with a mentor who will coach them in preparation for the final interview. The interview consists of an evaluation of their performance by representatives from whatever entity can provide the opportunity. If the reps like them and think they can do the job, they get hired on the spot.

Now if you think these are everyday kind of jobs, think again. They are occupations that demand odd hours, travel and in some cases the public spotlight. That sounds pretty fascinating, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t give their right arm to live out their dream job? A consistent statement in each show: “I’ve been given a second chance”.

the moment_mentor pic

I think what has fascinated me more are the human dynamics involved and complexities of choice. On the surface, it might seem that all is golden. But after the initial test, it becomes clear that the contestant needs some improvement. With the goal of that dream job in view, they become determined to wipe away the rust that has gathered from lack of use. Frustration and disappointment are not uncommon experiences. However, whatever hurdles exist, the mentors and some friendly words from Warner usually do the trick. Continue reading

Putting on the Nikes: When Christian Singles Need to Run

runner at starting lineI came across this wonderful article yesterday that spoke of the consequences of marrying the wrong kind of person. It can have a harmful impact on the marriage, emotional and even physical health. Even dating the wrong people can have this impact. Trust me, I know. Pretty much everything on the list resonated with me.

I think articles like the one I posted are good. But one thing I’ve noticed, is that its always addressed to young, never been married people who most likely had stability growing up and ability to make wise choices. But sometimes, stuff happens in life that distorts the colander, creating ill responses and bad choices. When you’re young and full of romantic dreams, you don’t realize how life events can really impact you. This is especially true for those who have experienced loss and brokenness at a young age. You can go through life and respond to buttons that create all kinds of compromise.  That was my story.

I’ve been widowed since 2004, but I have a long history of relationship errors and choosing unwisely. From time to time, I reflect on an area in my life that I consider a thorn, especially since I long one day to finally get it right.  Actually, it finds a way to prick me, especially when I least expect it. I spent many, many years in a cloud repeating mistakes and wondering why I remained unloved. In fact, one of the most challenging aspects of my seminary experience was an excavation process that exposed the root causes of those choices (along with a couple of relationship flops). It’s been quite painful especially being in a context where love and marriage blossom.

Running away from bad news is difficult for women with low self worth and esteem. When women don’t understand their worth, the compromising soon follows. The red flags that are slapping them in the face are nothing more than mere tickles that can be ignored. I suppose this happens to men also, but I do see it more prevalent in women. Continue reading

When Love Stands Alone

princess bride_priest“Love, true love” as the priest in the Princess Bride proclaimed in the marriage (mawwege) ceremony.  Many of us want that. There is something in us, to varying degrees that longs for that deeper connection with another. As a Christian, the reality of love can be even more piercing as we are illumed with understanding that the source of love is God. Not only does he give us the picture of what it means to love but also gives us the ability to do so.

Being in love can be a wonderful feeling. But it can also be deceiving. The real stuff of love is in the giving of it. Debra Fileta over at Relevant Magazine exhorts the readers with this article, Does Marriage Have to be Hard? concerning two things: 1) that floaty, fluttery feeling of being in love is not a sure foundation on which to base real love and 2) marriage takes commitment and the intentional choice to love. She writes;

That’s the thing I learned about the “feeling” of love—it was never meant to stand alone. It was never intended to be used as a noun: an object, a thing, a feeling, an idea. To do so is to do the concept of love a grave injustice. To do so is to reject the very definition of how God has asked us to love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The most dangerous part about the myth of falling in love is that it is based on a definition that has no sense of predictability or control. It offers no guarantees. If you can fall into it, you can surely fall out of it. It’s no wonder our country’s divorce rate hovers around 50 percent, with divorce among Christians tagging right along.

The truth is, love was never just intended to be, it was intended to do. DC Talk had it right when they wrote the song “Love Is a Verb” (or rather, “luv”). That’s the truth.

Frankly, it’s the hardest verb you will ever do. It’s a verb that requires a selflessness and altruism beyond any other experience on earth. It’s a verb that is not always felt but must always be chosen. It is a commitment to do what is right, even though the one standing before you may be entirely undeserving. Continue reading