Carrubbers' Blog

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(8) SINGLE: Why is everyone else getting married?

Chapter 8 is very moving to read as Rachel bears her soul.  She begins confessing: “My sister is getting married in eleven days time…. Yet the truth is: I want it to be me.  Don’t get me wrong – I love my sister and I’m very much looking forward to celebrating with her… Of all the weddings I’ve been to, this one will take me closest to seeing what the look on my father’s face would be if he ever walks me down the aisle.  And all the while I’ll be knowing it isn’t me; and all the while I’ll be suspecting that it will never be”

She tells us who she's writing this chapter for - and basically we can all learn something from it:

“It’s for you if you’re single – whether it turns out to be just for now or for a lifetime (And maybe you know that it will almost certainly be a lifetime, because you’re same-sex attracted and can’t assume that marriage will ever be an option for you).  But this chapter is also for you if you’re dating, engaged or married.  For one thing, you may well end up single again one day.  And for another, whatever your relationship status, you’ll definitely have single friends who need you to speak helpful truths to them, rather than thoughtless remarks, hurtful banter, or useless platitudes

She puts into words the pain felt by many people when this subject is raised:

“You might already have read and heard a lot on singleness before.  You’ve heard about the gift of singleness – and rolled your eyes at all the joke about it being the gift everyone wants to return.  You’ve spoken to people who talk about being content with their singleness – but can’t imagine that ever being you.  You’ve thrown yourself into church or work or sports or whatever – but it hasn’t helped with your loneliness.  You know all the right answers – but answers don’t give you the human touch that you crave”

She adapts the psychological “Five stages of grief” to put into words the experience of many Christians coming to terms with “unwanted singleness”:

  • DENIAL: “This cannot possibly be it. I’ll find someone one day.  I’m only ___ years old.  I’ve got loads of time”
  • ANGER: “Why would God withhold this from me? It’s not fair.  I would be a much better boy/girlfriend than him/her”
  • BARGAINING: “God, what do you want from me? I’ve been serving loads in church, and reading my bible… Maybe if I was more ____, then that person would like me”
  • DEPRESSION: “No one wants me. I’ll always be alone”
  • ACCEPTANCE: “Maybe I won’t ever get maybe. And maybe that’s OK.  And maybe it’s even OK that it’s OK”

Much of the chapter is a reflection on Lamentations 3:22-24: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  I say to myself: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him”

Rachel draws two helpful lessons from this passage:

"First, if right now you’re feeling unloved, unchosen, undesirable, know that God loves you greatly.  He chose you to be part of his people and he wanted that enough to send his Son to save you from being consumed by the anger you’re due.  Secondly, the Lord’s compassions are new every morning.  That means that right now, you don’t need to be ok with being single in 50 years time… Contentment with our singleness isn’t a status that we arrive at and then bask in for the rest of our lives.  It’s something we depend on the Lord to give us each day… So here’s the key question: is there a way to be OK with being single today?  … Because if you can be OK being single today, you can be Ok being single tomorrow when it becomes today, and the day after that, and all the days that follow.  Why?  Because God’s compassions are new every morning – he will be tomorrow all that you need him to be…. God will prove himself faithful – day after day after day.

Then she reminds us of how Jesus practically meets the needs and longings of our heart for intimacy, through incorporating us into the church:

“It’s only in Jesus that we will have our deepest aches and longings fulfilled completely.  And all that’s great… in theory.  But it doesn’t help you with your lust or your loneliness…. As one friend with rodent problem in her house told me: ‘I get that Jesus is everything, but He’s not here physically – it’s a physical relationship that I crave more than anything else.  Plus, Jesus can’t empty my mouse traps’. … Church is meant to be family – it’s the place where we find brothers and sisters and parents and children and home…. You’re part of the family of God … If you need someone to empty your mousetraps, you should be able to find that person in the church (Or buy a pair of gloves…) There ought to be no lonely people in God’s family”

She also reframes the issue of our relationship status and gives us the bigger horizon of the gospel from which to view things:

“Is there a way to be OK with being single today?  Well there is.  And yet the truth is contentment with our singleness isn’t really the aim.  I don’t need to seek to be more content with my singleness – not today, not on my sister’s wedding day, not ever, really.  Instead, I need to be more convinced that ‘this world in its present form is passing away’ (1 Corinthians 7:31).  I need to be so consumed with this coming reality that whether I’m single or married just doesn’t matter that much.  I need to lift my eyes to a different horizon – beyond the what-ifs and if-onlys of the next few decades – to the awesome certainty that is thundering towards me.  Because even the best Christian marriage is only ever a picture of what lies ahead for every Christian… It points to a time when the bride of Christ, the church, is brought to meet her groom and enjoy a truly permanent relationship of love and intimacy with him… On that wedding day in heaven, no Christian will feel like they’ve missed out or have been left out”

Here's the beautiful ending to the chapter, as she shares how she will tackle the experience of attending her sister's wedding:

“In eleven days’ time I’ll wake up early.  I’ll read the Bible.  I’ll remind myself just how much God loves me and how much Christ gave up for me and gave to me.  I’ll remember that God has especially chosen me to be part of his bride – not because I’m desirable, but just because he loves me.  And then I’ll talk to Him.  I’ll think over the day in front of me, and I’ll ask God to use one person I talk to to encourage me that day.  And I’ll ask him to use me to encourage one person as well – for an opportunity to speak the name of Jesus with a huge smile on my face.  And you know what?  I’m pretty sure he’ll answer!”

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