A Single Opinion

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Recently while serving at an event at my home church, I found myself in the volunteer room with two other single ladies. Our ages varied in decades–from the 30’s to the 60’s. Two of us were divorced and one never married.

I gave the name of a Christian Singles Group to one of the ladies after hearing her want of meeting other singles, particularly men. And the conversations of dating came up with varied experiences and opinions especially regarding online dating.

Personally I haven’t done online dating in over 15 years and it scares me! If I am to date, I’d much prefer the friends to dating kind of way. However, since I haven’t dated for a few years now I recognize I cannot be an authority on it at all! haha!

And I no longer attend single events. When I first came back to the church ten years ago, a single’s group was a wonderful place where I met other singles, and I made women friendships that still carry on today.

Like I imagine any church ministry, the singles ministry is not without it’s challenges. Good — no excellent leadership is needed. I’ve seen single ministries end due to lack of leadership. And believe that is a wise decision for churches.

I’ll often hear “the church isn’t serving singles well” from singles and those married, from elders and pastors.

But I wonder instead of the question being “How can churches meet the needs of singles?”  it could be “How can singles meet the needs of the church?”

I know I may be getting some backs stiffening up with that question! I hope you can provide me with grace as I further the thoughts.

When hearing singles hearts, I hear their inner cries of wanting to belong, to be known. It’s a need we all have. As Christians we learn that our heavenly Father knows us. He knows every hair on our head (Luke 12:7) and that we are more valuable to Him than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31). We know we have great worth in His eyes because we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8) through the sacrifice of His only son (John 3:16). We know we are unconditionally loved (1 John 4:16).

No matter your status–single, divorced, widowed, married–His truths apply.

You are loved, worthy and valuable. And that includes in the church community. You add value to the church and provide a need that only the unique, wonderfully made you, can provide.

So to the single, my hope is you know you are already known, that your worth is securely planted from your identity in Christ and He has service for you to do, needs to be met by you that may include needs in your own church community. And maybe even ask yourself, a pastor, a friend–What’s a need in the church I can meet?

To the church community as a whole, my hope is we serve like God calls us to serve all–with humility and without “selfish ambition or vain conceit.” This serving of others includes no discrimination or labels but with tenderness and compassion because we are all “one in spirit and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-4).

Back to the experiences and opinions on dating as a Christian….well that might be future post! haha!

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What are ways you could serve as a single at your church, or, if not single, encourage singles as part of the oneness within the body?

Lynn J Simpson, Certified Professional Life Coach at Inspiring Hope In You

Linked up today at Holly Gerth-Let’s Have Coffee

The unexpected gift

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

“Where are the bears?” the young man asks, his stride matching mine. His vowels rounded that only someone from a land across the ocean could perfect.

“Oh I’m not sure you really want to see a wild bear,” I replied in typical Canadian polite and honest manner. “You can really get hurt by bears. My sister was a nurse in Jasper and she’s seen enough bear mauling injuries she won’t even tent anymore.”

“Really huh? Well, where can we see them?” I glanced over at the young man, a helmet of some kind (rock climbing maybe?) set upon his head, his quiet companion walking beside him. A backdrop of rocky mountain glory  and the chatter of others, some languages unrecognizable, surrounded us in this popular tourism spot in Banff, Alberta.

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How could I deny them any information to see something new in this place they travelled too, maybe even planned for many years?

I gave them what giving I had.

“If you head to Lake Louise and do the hike up to the Tea House, you may see the grizzlies running in the gullies below. And the black bears hang out up there but usually at night when the tourists aren’t there. But the staff can tell you stories about those bears. You may even see some bear tracks.”

“Great mate. Thanks!”

As they picked up their pace I called after them as had to do my due diligence after all. “Make sure to have bear spray and bells!”

He turned, gave a quick wave of acknowledgment and the two paraded on to their next adventure. And I could feel myself being glad for them. Their excitement, their fresh eyes in this Rocky Mountain town I’d been to many times, gave me joy that only a giving can do.

It was just a little giving, a connection I allowed in when matching their stride on the path we both travelled.

And maybe, just maybe it was also a giving forward, a result from another giving that happened soon before.

A giving from an unexpected conversation due to a kindness thought needed. A need seen, an opportunity seized.

I’d spent the morning hours walking the loop of Minnewanka Lake, in solitude. At times I paused, knelt and took pictures and video of a beauty that my camera cannot fully express. Intentionally I tried not to fill my mind with words, with thoughts, and analysis as I often due on my walks. A smile or said ‘hi’ would occur from time to time between passer-byes. But overall, even with the lake’s rippling, the tour boats motoring, and the tourists conversing, it was an alone silence I heard within.

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I’m one who can be alone when travelling. I have never hesitated, either, to sign up for a course alone or a weekend retreat not knowing anyone going. Or buy a concert or a theatre ticket for one. An old friend of mine recently called me fiercely independent, elaborating on how I just go and ‘do stuff.’  And, yes that’s true.

But doing this ‘stuff’ on my own doesn’t necessarily mean I want to always be alone. It’s just that if I didn’t go “do stuff” on my own, I may never “do stuff” at all.

The alone silence I heard within, on the rocky mountain lake path, was a familiar alone silence, one I have navigated through before. When the thoughts came in that I wouldn’t mind to be sharing this time with another, I’d accept them with patience and grace. I’ve learned how to be content in the alone silence. But the need for connection is a known fact and never withdrawn.

Because God made us for community.

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

So later, when I stopped at the snack shack and sat down comfortably on a stool, placing my water, purchase and backpack on a high counter, the magical view of Lake Minnewanka ahead of me, I welcomed in the question, the connecting, from the man devouring a vanilla ice cream cone beside me.

“Are you from here?”

Just a few hours north, I told him. And over the next half hour I learned about northern England, about a son moving across the sea to begin a prosperous farming career in prairie Canada, and a grand daughter who showed off her welsh words over Skype. I laughed along with this gentle man and his wife perched beside him as he told me the response of his doctor when he complained of his foot giving him so much trouble even after a life-style of healthy eating and exercise. ” “Mr. Reed, she said, “things just wear out.” ”

But it was, unexpectedly,  the story he shared of his neighbour back home in England that most gave. And later gave forward. “He lives alone, you see. And I knocked on his door one day to say hi. He told me he hadn’t talked to anyone in two days! Now I try to talk to anyone I see alone, you see.”

I do see.

I see a man who seized an opportunity of a needed kindness learned unexpectedly from a giving act of loving on his neighbour. And then loved on me, this neighbour who sat in a snack shack at a busy place of roaming tourists, alone.

Giving isn’t about what you have in your hands; it’s what you have in your heart. Never doubt it: an act of kindness…. can be more powerful than a sword in starting needed revolutions. Ann Voskamp, The Way of Abundance

I wonder now, if those two young men ever did see a wild bear during their time here in my home province of Alberta, Canada.

What I do know though, our connection when transversing the same path, gave them an unexpected gift that what they hope to see just might be possible.

Lynn J Simpson, Certified Professional Life Coach at INSPIRING HOPE IN YOU

Linking up with # TellHisStory

                          Recharge Wednesday

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Soaring with Him Ministries

Lifting the gates

 

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The Light of the World
“This reminds me,” commented G, “of an 18th century painting where Jesus is knocking but there is no handle. Only the one inside can open it.”

“I wonder where that painting is now?” C questioned. But G was not sure.

We were gathered together, our group of four, to discuss what the Spirit showed us in the scripture passages we’d been led to read, to re-read and to reflect.

It is a cold Monday evening, the temperature just dipping below -20 Celsius and I resisted to take the 10 minute drive to my church to attend the first evening of Solemn Assembly.

The church auditorium is open every night this first week of the calendar year for a gathering of guided prayer and meditation. It’s a time to ‘take an extended pause….to turn to God in prayer’ the printed guide defines.

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But I found myself resisting the invitation, this invite to be present in prayer.

What if, I think, He stays quiet, like I feel He has for these many months past?

So many unanswered prayers (at least in my perception) had me discouraged and my intellect mind challenged.

But I gathered up my bible and my favorite blue pens, and drove the snowy roads, grateful for the heated car seats. Yet, in a small act of defiance I see now, (I’ve shown up for you front and center God, now it’s time for you to show up for me!), I slipped into the second row from the back instead of my usual third row from the front position.

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A few moments later, on the other end of the pew, G and B take a seat, B being the woman I wrote of here, whose welcoming act and invitation when I first ever attended this church, began the breaking down of my defensive barriers as a single attending a church.

When we move in our seats to be closer together, G, B, C (a lady who took a seat behind me) and I, B asks a question of me, a confirming question that is. And, I ponder, is this an answer to prayer?

And C and I, we learn, have a mutual friend from another church. And our smiles mirror, as we reflect on how lovely this lady friend of ours is, and oh! what a small world it is!

But is it?

Instead of a small world of random chance, could this time be divinely orchestrated by the One who always is there to prosper me, because I showed up?

 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

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Maybe, just maybe, rather than waiting behind our gates of resistance, our gates of uncertainty, or our gates of  discontentment, it is when we move, take a step in faith by taking a step of action, is when we open the door for Christ.

Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:21-22

The handle is on our side. Jesus is just waiting for us to open the door so He can come in.

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Lift up your heads, you gates;                                                                                                                      be lifted up, you ancient doors,                                                                                                                     that the King of glory may come in. 

Who is this King of glory?                                                                                                                                 The Lord strong and mighty                                                                                                                          the Lord mighty in battle. 

Psalm 24:7-8

Is there an action of faith you are resisting to take? Are you waiting on Christ to make the move? Or maybe, just maybe, He’s waiting for you to lift open the gate….?

 

Being single in a coupled church

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It’s been about 5 years since I first entered what is now my home church, on a cold December Saturday evening. I’d been exploring my faith again after many, many years of being away from the Christian church. But still always searching with the restlessness of one knowing there is a pursuant that he/she senses, yet turns to things of this world to satisfy.

For some that have shared their stories with me, it has been addictions in forms such as alcohol, legal and illegal drugs, and food to satisfy.

For me those things, those worldly ways to fill my always unsatisfied ego included the attention of men, the temporary satisfaction of being desired.

I was the perfect example of the ol’ saying: Looking for love in all the wrong places. 

I look back to a moment, divorced 12 years , driving on a rural highway. Broken, tears flowing from another bad decision, another chosen path of satisfying in the wrong place, when I hear Him.  Continue reading “Being single in a coupled church”