Thursday, 28 February 2013

On Love.

“They say that Home is Where the Heart is
- I guess I haven’t found my home”

The Valentines season - and all the gooey sincere and not-so-sincere sentiment it brings with it - helped me to re-evaluate my own thoughts on love. Now this is by no means a put-down of love, committed relationships, marriage or any of that malarkey. But when cards and songs scream out about ‘Finding The One’, it suddenly dawned on me that, mercifully, I don’t need to do that.

And not even because ‘ I'm okay on my own’ – I'm not. I can admit that I needed saving.  
I was made out of love and to love, by a relational God - I can’t do life without relationships. 

However, I realised recently the incredibly freeing fact that I have already found ‘the One’ – (or we may argue, He found me). I’m not on the look-out for that ‘special someone’ any more. He came and found me, loved me when I was unlovely and hated him, and died that I might be able to enjoy this special relationship with Him. I've never known a love like it, and never will. I HAVE found my home, my heart does have a resting place and I know it’s safe in His hands (to quote Phil Wickham).

So whilst I might see lots of beauty and good things in relationships and marriage, I don’t need to pine for them as my ‘end goal’. I already have it, that thing that fulfils its promise to satisfy. And I've been promised that I’ll never be separated from this love. WEHEY!! This is incredible news, surely.

This doesn't mean I'm always happy being single and Do Not want to get married. It’s just helped me a little to re-evaluate my attitude towards those things. I don’t need to be pitied by people in relationships (any more than I should pity them) – we are both blessed. I haven’t ‘pulled the short straw’. In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller highlights a number of often-used reasons why Christian singles are not married. (My favourite is, ‘“As soon as you’re satisfied with God alone, he’ll bring someone special into your life” – as though God’s blessings are ever earned by our contentment”).

Keller also quotes a woman who says, 
“I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is his best for me... I may meet someone and walk down the aisle in the next couple of years because God is so good to me. I may never have another date... because God is so good to me” (Paige Benton Brown, in Keller pp 110-111, 119). 

This has really helped me to have a more realistic view of marriage and of singleness. Yes, it’s hard sometimes when everyone around you appears to be loved-up (in restaurants, clubs and - my pet peeve - on Underground escalators. Just GET A ROOM)...... anyyywayy.... But it’s also hard for married people when they want to go out and have a drink with other single friends, but need to put the washing on for their spouse or look after the kids. Swings and roundabouts.

Ultimately, the thing that will keep me going if I'm not feeling so chirpy about singleness, is that first paragraph – and the love I know I already possess. I don’t require anything more. Maybe a romantic relationship would be a nice added bonus. But I guess it’s trying to find contentment in every situation, like Paul says (Philippians 4:11-13). And, moreover, to trust the one who has freely given me such beautiful and abounding love, that “I may meet someone and walk down the aisle in the next couple of years because God is so good to me. I may never have another date... because God is so good to me”.

For more thoughts on love, 
  • Read Tim and Kathy Keller, 'The Meaning of Marriage'. It is the best book I have read on relationships, singleness and marriage. It is FANTASTIC. Go read it.
  • Check out for Paige Benton Brown's whole article

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

'Be My Valentine'

Don’t worry, folks. This isn't going to be like my Christmas blog.

For starters, I actually like Christmas.... no but really, this isn't going to be a rant.

The ‘Big Day’ hits us next Thursday, meaning that since mid-January (but especially noticeable this week) we have been subjected to red envelopes, an overkill of hearts and teddybears, and a load of largely useless and slightly trashy love-related gifts. Including, for instance, a piece of plastic which promises to stamp hearts into your toast. Hearts? On a piece of toast? Come on. It’s not exactly a handy gadget, is it?

I'm sure I'm in no way alone in inwardly wanting to vom at this overbearing display of genuine (and not-so-genuine) affection for one’s Valentine. A phrase from our beloved Single Lady (no, not Bridget Jones – the other one) – Miranda – has been circling through my mind the last few days: “I don’t know who Saint Valentine was, but I hope that he died alone, surrounded by couples”. Fair play.

And I know what you’re all thinking. Especially you couples/married ones. “This has ‘Bitter Singleton’ written all over it”. And due to this not being the case, I feel the need to set the message straight. Firstly, Valentines as an idea is really sweet. And yes, I'm sure Valentine’s season would be less overbearing if I had a hot date lined up and roses delivered to the door, but even with that alternative reality, there is something undeniably superficial, disingenuous perhaps, about the Valentines season. This is at least partly to do with the fact that (and NO, this is not bitterness speaking), it has become such a big deal through the fuelling of the ‘season’ by card shops, gift shops, flower shops, restaurants, hotels etc. Kind of like the way Christmas has been taken over. Except (and yes, this is bitterness speaking), Christmas is not an exclusive holiday where one is meant to feel happy or sad depending on whether they have been given a card saying ‘Bee Mine’ (cringe).

It’s not like Valentines is still just a quaint way of telling someone that you like them, or reminding someone that you love them. I was in a card shop today and saw two different cards which simply read – no joke – “Your willy makes me happy”. REALLY, people?!! Come on. We were made for more than this.

If Valentines is about two people who deeply love each other (and, preferably, can express that without sucking each other’s face’s off in public), then I'm all for it. It’s sweet and how can you not be happy when two people fall in love?

However, if and when Valentines is about finding a randomer to send a card/pair of knickers to, ‘because it’s Valentines’, then all that does is expose our desperate need to be wanted and desired.

That’s an understandable human emotion. But why go searching in that way when all the love you ever needed is available to you? I know someone who has loved you since before the creation of the world, and showed it by giving Himself up so that we could know Him and know His love. That might not feel as ‘warm and fuzzy’ as receiving a red envelope next Thursday, but it surely counts for a heck of a lot more.