Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Teaching for Christian singles

I've been thinking more about singleness and being Christian.  I've started to wonder if God is calling me to begin some kind of teaching for single people in my area. It is still very much in the 'this is an idea I am praying about' sort of stage. If it is God inspired then He will  lead me I am sure.  I want to follow where He leads not run ahead of him.

We quite rightly  have specialised teaching for those who are married with the Marriage Course, we have parenting courses, divorce recovery courses, help those those with addictions and many others.  But what teaching is there out there for single Christians?  I am not talking about setting up groups aimed at dating and finding a partner. There are plenty of websites for single Christians to join in the search for a partner (that is a whole other post in itself ). I am thinking more about teaching people, and providing opportunities for Bible based discussions on subjects to do with being single as a Christian.

What teaching would be needed? Maybe looking at the church's attitudes to singleness, how to deal with the pain of unwanted long term singleness, loneliness, the lack of companionship, sexual frustration , the absence of touch (not sexual but just general hugs etc), practical issues of holidays alone, where to spend Christmas, is it right to want marriage, how do you know if God is calling you to be single?

If you are a single Christian what subjects would you like to see covered? Do you think it is right that we have teaching for singles? Can you see a place for a course on coping with unwanted long term singleness? I would love to hear what you think.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Singleness and the Christian Life


  I've been thinking a lot recently about singleness and how it affects me as a single Christian. One of the things I have realised since starting to write my book about my crisis of faith is that not dealing with the pain of singleness is one of the main contributory factors in my losing faith.  The following are excerpts from the first draft of my book, He Never Let Go.

I have never imagined myself as a career girl. I never had a career plan. I wouldn’t be working for that many years. I thought I only needed a job until I met the right man. I always thought I would get married, have a home, have children, and be a stay-at-home mum. I never dreamt for a moment that I would be single and childless in my late forties, but that is where I have found myself. Like many little girls I dreamt of my wedding day. I dreamt of the white dress, the bridesmaids, the flowers, and the handsome groom. I dreamt of a home of my own to look after. I dreamt of children. It never occurred to me that it might not happen. It really didn’t ever occur to me until later that it might not happen . . .

Over the years, I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed for a husband. I prayed on my own. I prayed with others. I fasted and prayed. I believed that God had spoken to me through Pat but also in other ways too. I kept waiting for God to fulfil what I thought was His promise to me. I waited for a husband. I waited but the only weddings I went to were those of other people. At first, it was fun to see my friends married. I thought, ‘One day I’ll have a wedding’. However, as time went on, and more friends got married and I didn’t, it got harder and harder to go and keep a smile on my face. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for them. I was delighted. I just wanted it for myself too. I tried to keep my pain to myself. I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s special day. . . 

I can see now that I should have dealt with my disappointments sooner. I buried a lot of my pain. I let out some of it but I didn’t really allow people to see how badly I was hurting. A part of me thought that if people knew how badly I wanted to get married, and have a home and children, they would laugh at me. I thought they would think ‘How could she think that anyone would want her?’ A lack of confidence led me to believe that I wasn’t good enough to be married. This shame prevented me from seeking help to deal with my anguish. I think I simply needed to cry it out on someone’s shoulder, to sob it out, but so often, I pushed it down. 

      Why was I never able to be totally honest about my pain. I think one reason is that I kept thinking God must be everything to me. If I still want to get married then I am not a good Christian. I hadn't taken on board the truth of what God says in Genesis 2:18 'Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him'. But it is clear here that it is the norm that people need other people. It is not good to be alone. That is why God says later on through the Psalmist  in Psalm 68:6 'God places lonely people in families.' He knows it is not good to be alone.

      So why am I still punishing myself for not being able to cope with just me and God? I know the answer may not be marriage for me but I need to  look for the families that God wants to place me in to give me what I need as a human being. 

Are we giving single Christians false expectations? Where did I get the idea that I had to be self-sufficient with just God? People sometimes quote the verse in Isaiah 54 about God being a husband to us - implying that should be enough for us. But that verse was written to the whole nation of Israel - it wasn't written for just single people. Yes, God wants to be a like a husband to us, but he wants to be like that for everyone - including those who are happily married, unhappily married or too young to be married yet. 

I don't know what the answers are for me or for other singles but I would love to get discussions going about the whole issue.