24 July 2007

Taking the "Sin" out of being Single

No, being single is not a sin. That's not what this is about. Also, if you expect this to be a rant about how our culture devalues those who find themselves single well into their adult lives, you are wrong. Similarly, you will be disappointed if you are looking for someone to commiserate with regarding being single. However, I hope you will keep reading because what I want to do is make you think about being single in a different way.

Let me get this out of the way. I am single and unless I am going to be a centenarian, I am past middle age. There are some things that I am going to avoid like the plague while rambling here about singleness. I am not going to bash marriage. This isn't about being bitter because I am single. Am I happy being single? Sometimes. In fact, there are many days I am pretty relieved by it. However, this isn't a rant about learning to be happy in your singleness either. I want to avoid the appearance that being single is fun or the best life. There are many people who are single and it is agonizing for them. I generally loathe Pollyanna types anyway. Singleness is difficult and has many pitfalls. What I do want to write about one pitfall you may not have considered. Selfishness.

I think marriage is probably the greatest tool God uses outside of Himself to conform believers to His image. Marriage is a sacred thing. It is a good thing. It is perfectly acceptable to want to be married. Keeping our balance as believers is crucial and Christ is always the fulcrum. Those who have been hurt terribly and disdain the very idea of marriage and those who make marriage their idol are equally guilty of losing their balance before God. How do we know if we've lost our balance? I ask myself these questions. "Am I willing to sin to get it" and "Am I willing to sin if I don't get it."

Yesterday was a bad day for me because lots of bitterness and resentment came flooding out of me. I was ticked because God hasn't given me what I want and I behaved like a petulant child. If I am to be brutally honest, I liked it. Imagine that! The sovereign God of the universe isn't jumping to fulfill my desires. Apparently He isn't aware that it is all about me. It can be about Him some other time--like when He's made me happy. Yup, I was in a full on, foot stomping, fist shaking, arrogant tirade against the God I claimed to love and serve. Worse yet, I wasn't the least bit embarrassed by my behavior let alone repentant. And then it happened... a brother in Christ told me to straighten up and quit complaining about God's providence. He pulled out the big guns and made reference to Titus 2, reminding me of my responsibility to act as a role model.

Ouch.

His exhortation was effective for a couple of reasons. First of all he exhorted me with truth from the Word. Secondly, he knows me. He knows some of the trials I have faced and he knows that I know better. This wasn't some stranger trying to slap me and tell me "Get over yourself!" Or worse yet, someone who wanted to pat me on the head and tell me I had every right to be mad while spouting some nonsense about my self-esteem. He gave me the truth right between the eyes and it brought me to repentance and made me think.

How did a woman who knows better allow herself to pitch a fit and pout before Almighty God? What had gone so terribly wrong in my heart that I thought being mad at Him was a good idea? You may be asking what does any of this have to do with being single? Simply this: Living singly helped me cultivate an "it's all about me" mindset. Being single means I don't have to compromise with anyone in my home. I get to decide what I will eat, how high the heat should be turned on, what I will watch on TV, what color to paint the walls, where I can leave my things. It is a subtle trap. I fell in and don't even notice. Iron sharpens iron because of friction and in my home, it's about me. I do not have opposition in the form of another person with different likes and dislikes. My kids are grown. My space is mine. I have built a Rosemarie friendly environment. I claim to serve God and yet I am living like it really is all about me! I let my guard down and what crept in was a self-indulgent, self-focused, self-pleasing life style that is contrary to the way God has declared I should live my life. (Phil 2:3-5)

I was angry with God because I forgot my place as the pot and His place as the Potter. (Isaiah 29:16 Romans 9:21) It's a tendency we all have and will continue to have as long as there is sin. Do you know that there are more warnings in the Word for us to guard our hearts and minds against our own flesh than anything else? Our sinful natures scream to be out from under His authority and to be our own authorities. Living life as a single man or woman can magnify this tendency exponentially if we let it.

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