IT STARTED WITH A POST by an online friend E., entitled "Suddenly, spinsterhood is OK :-)" and appended with an interesting New York Times article by Ginia Bellafante. In the article, Ms Bellafante discussed the emergence and impact of more Christian-themed books that promotes single living. For example, "Sassy, Single and Satisfied" by Michelle McKinney Hammond, "Living Whole Without a Better Half" by Wendy Widder, "Table for One" by Camerin Courtney (a columnist for Christiansinglestoday.com), "The Single Truth" by Lori Smith, and so on.
Some choice quotes: "Of the approximately 15 million evangelical Christians in America, about 3.5 million are single adults, 500,000 to 1 million of them never married, according to the Barna Group, a research group that analyzes Christian trends.... Two years ago, the online bookstore Christianbook.com offered 59 titles directed at singles; it now sells more than 300."
Then another online friend D. ranted, "If I were living and working in the USA, I think I wouldn't have any qualms being single whatever age I happen to be.... Speaking from personal experience: my colleagues assume that I am married with kids; sales people speak to me like maybe I should consult my hubby on my purchases; when I use my credit card, I sometimes suspect that people think I have a sugar-daddy or businessman hubby footing my bills. (I buy my own jewelry because if I wait for yet-to-appear-hubby to buy I might as well wait till the cows come home). Today I was at a watch shop putting in batteries into my watches and the shop person asked why I was walking around town alone....perhaps I should call my darling out to join me."
D. CONTINUED, "... I have had people telling me different things. Here is a sampling:
(1) God would choose your spouse for you. You would recognise him and he would recognise you.
(2) If God intended you to marry, you'd be married when you are in your 20s.
(3) Whose choice is it? God's or yours? And if it is God's...is it really a choice at all? Maybe, there wasn't a choice at all. All you were really asked to do was to OBEY. This was the one that I really struggled with because I felt COMPELLED by God to be single. Something that I did not want to be.
"How Abraham OBEYED.
How Mary OBEYED.
How Jesus OBEYED.
Dare I not obey?????"
For various reasons, years ago, i used to be one of those "singles who do not feel called to singlehood". i've tried to get out of it. As D. put it, "Singlehood was supposed to be a transient state."
Recently, several friends have advised me not to close my options since there are women who got married in their forties. Somehow though, i'm at peace with the prospect of possibly not getting married. Why so? It's perhaps due to a few factors:
(1) Thanks to modern day society, a woman can be single and self-sufficient.
(2) A growing trust in God that He'll be there for me no matter what.
(3) An increasing awareness that i need to grow spiritually and become the 'Person' in His loving plan -- someone who loves Him with all my mind, body and soul, and who loves my neighbour as myself.
Whether i'll ever be married has become immaterial. In the process of trying to become the 'Person', i'm already having a great time -- married or not.
As for the things that people might say or ask, it's no longer that important. Instead, what i believe has become more important. No, i had not chosen to be single for life. So? Then again, i had chosen to let people interested in me pass by. So, it's a choice in a way.
Regarding D.'s question, "Dare I not obey?" i asked in return, "Would I be dumb enough not to trust in the immense wisdom and love of God?" To quote an emailed message:
> The next time you feel like GOD can't use you, just remember...
> Noah was a drunk
> Abraham was too old
> Isaac was a daydreamer
> Jacob was a liar
> Leah was ugly
> Joseph was abused
> Moses had a stuttering problem
> Gideon was afraid
> Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
> Rahab was a prostitute
> Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
> David had an affair with a woman -- and had her husband killed in battle.
> Elijah was suicidal
> Isaiah preached naked
> Jonah ran from God
> Naomi was a widow
> Job went bankrupt
> Peter denied Christ
> The Disciples fell asleep while praying
> Martha worried about everything
> Mary Magdalene was, well you know
> The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
> Zaccheus was too small
> Paul was too religious
> Timothy had an ulcer... AND
> Lazarus was dead!
In other words, to borrow an American slogan: "In God We Trust!"
Perhaps it's providence. What Elizabeth-Anne Stewart wrote in Living Faith for July 25, 2004, kind of reflects what i feel about the desire of many singles to be married:
"For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." -- Luke 11:10
"A theme common to fairy tales from every culture is the granting of three wishes to a relatively poor person. Whether a genie pops out of a bottle or a fairy godmother waves her magic wand, the formula is the same: a person with few options in life is suddenly invited to name what he or she most desires. Some squander their wishes on trivia; others seek revenge on their enemies; still others aspire to be like God and then pay for their pride. Few, it seems, are capable of choosing wisely.
"So it is with prayer: Too often, our obsessions govern what we pray for. Imagining that a particular object, success, relationship or outcome will bring eternal happiness, we storm heaven with our pleas, sometimes receiving precisely what we ask for. Only when discontent sets in do we begin to understand that the better way to pray is to ask God to decide what we need because we ourselves lack the capacity to know what is good for us.
"Teach us to pray, O God, that your will may be done in us and for us."
The sermon given by Fr A. at this evening's mass reinforces this understanding, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children [conversely, to withhold poor gifts from them], how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit [the best gift possible] to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13)
Cold comfort to someone who longs for a soul mate and doesn't find one, i suppose. Afterall, didn't God say somewhere in Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone? i really have no answer to this, except to continue to believe that we must trust in God's wisdom and love, no matter what.
"Because you did not have enough faith to acknowledge my holy power before the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land that I promised to give them." -- Numbers 20:12
Interesting development: D. wrote online last night, "... just came home from SPI course and the topic was Numbers and about how Moses was not allowed into the Promise Land.
"It was stressed that in the bigger picture, Moses still had GOd's favour. His relationship with God was not broken. Fact was to show us the gravity of NOT PLACING OUR TRUST IN GOD.
"And so, likewise, sometimes our prayers are not answered perhaps we do not trust God enough, God is using the waiting time to prepare us, Kronos vs Kyros (Kairos) moment, could also be our sin and turning away from God....
"At the end of the day, I guess it boils down to do I love the giver or the gifts?
"Plus...I am a natural pessimist....I yoyo up and down in my efforts to trust God :-)"
Sounds familiar. Many of us yoyo too. ;-)
The 'message' continued...
Yesterday, a colleague sent a beautiful LeaveItToGod.pps to some of us. How timely!
btw, in response to yet another discriminatory message online, E. had written, "...it's a mistake to assume that singles primarily 'focus on themselves' ... but what struck me was the attitude that being a parent made you more valuable than someone who wasn't -- as though unmarrieds were devoid of all family responsibilities. From my own experience, my mother had surgery last year, and I had to take a week of personal leave to care for her. If it were my daughter, I could claim a week of child-MC; but there's no such thing as parent-MC in the civil service, because parents aren't real family."
Same thing happened for me. My brothers and sisters have responsibilities mainly to their own spouses and children. They cannot take leave to care for my mother. However, what i've done for my mother cannot be considered as a 'responsibility', huh?
And guess what happened recently at my poly? The management organizes a Family Day. All married people pay 50% while singles pay 100% for the compulsory coupons! More singles should be in management and government!
On less militant note: Maybe there should be an "Understanding Singlehood" campaign, workshop, forum, or something along similar lines?
I recall a sermon given by a Priest but cannot remember which one. He said that God put us all here on earth and that each one of us has a mission in life. Some are called to be husbands and wives, some to be single and so forth.
Therefore, as a married woman, my mission is to be a good wife to my husband and a mother to my child. It is not a sin to be single though most of us would like to be married with a family. But if you are single, then it would mean that you would have a specific mission to perform.
Our lives are not meaningless so it is for us to find out what God wants us to do, either for him or for our fellow men. Sometimes it is not clear and we wander about trying to figure out what God wants us to do. But I think, instead of wasting time looking for hidden messages, let's live life to the fullest as God would want us to do as he gave us this life. It is ours to make as happy as we want.
As we were given freedom of choice by God, let us choose wisely the way we want to live our lives and cherish it also. If you were meant to find a husband later in life, so too will God give you one. All is not lost. I've many friends who married in their 40s, at a time when they'd already given up hope of ever finding a partner.
In the meantime, life is meant to be lived. Not to be spent in regret and sorrow. Let us rejoice that God gave us fullness of life and thank him in abundance for it.
Hi, there. This reply is late because this matter is a little complicated.
What you've written here mostly echoed what i had written here, except the part about the 'message'.
No, was NOT looking for hidden messages. They just surfaced coincidentally (or providentially, depending on how one looks at this) while doing lots of other things. They were relevant in light of D's rant. Regret and sorrow were the last things on my mind while writing all these.
Clearer or more complications? ;-)