Continued Confessions of a Singleton

Despite my declarations last week about learning to live in the balance of the goodness of singleness and difficulties of it, it’s not something I do very well most of the time. In the days surrounding those posts, I had moments of, “I’m so thankful I’m single” and “Oh how I want to be married.” Some days I had both of those thoughts, perhaps even within the same hour.

Because I absolutely believe that singleness is not something you “come to terms with” once and for all.

I believe there are times of complete contentment with it, and times of complete and utter despair over it.

In the span of a few minutes, it can feel like a beautiful blessing and an unshakeable curse.

I don’t think this is entirely uncommon among single people to feel this way, nor do I think it’s automatically a bad thing. Life has seasons, and I think singleness does too. Sometimes it’s a good season, of reveling in the freedom and spontaneity afforded by singleness, and it may last for days, weeks, or months at a time. Yet it can quickly become a season of sadness, of pining for something good that, for whatever reason, is not mine now and may not ever be. The time between the seasons may be long, or very, very short.

There may be some people, though I think them to probably be quite rare, that embrace their singleness wholeheartedly once and for all, and rarely think about it again. For most, though, singleness is not a wrap-it-up-in-a-bow and forget it deal. It is a wrestle, perhaps not constant, but frequent, of embracing the beauty of it and acknowledging that the desire to not be single is not inherently bad. It is a tension, a balance that so easily gets off-kilter when I see so many people around me with the thing I want but I don’t have it, not now, and maybe not ever.

The lessons to be learned in this struggle are many, but sometimes I get tired of looking for them. Sometimes it all just feels a bit exhausting, and though those in relationships are quick to remind me they are hard work, it seems a very different—and ultimately more enjoyable—type of work than the work of being single. I have glimpses of true contentment and they are good and lovely, but they never seem to last quite as long as I’d like them to.

I believe in finding the balance between these tensions, but actually living in it is a daily pursuit.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s.  If you’re single but would prefer not to be, how do you live in the tension between your singleness and desire to not be? If you’re not single, will you tell me about it?

Living in the Tension of Grace

Lights are dim, the music quiet, almost haunting, the crowd somber and silent as they exit. “It was my sin that held him there, until it was accomplished” rings in people’s ears, rattling in their hearts, stirring up reminders of the harsh, careless words, white lies and withheld forgiveness that made the sacrifice, now declared finished, necessary.

Dark, heavy sin hangs in the air.

We are sent from the service knowing it is our sin, that hides in our hearts and speaks words of malice and wrinkles our noses at those in need, that called to be covered. It is a burdensome reminder, because covered it was, with Jesus’ own blood and love.

Yet in this weighty, somber time, there is a strange sense of goodness.

If I don’t acknowledge the stinking, terrible, all-encompassing mess that is my own sin, I may be tempted to think I can save myself–that somehow my own paltry attempts at “being good” will equate to salvation. It is good to be reminded of my own darkness, my desire to live my own way, as though my human power is enough to save myself.

 

But then, grace.

Beautiful, sweet, obliterating grace steps into the weighty darkness to say I don’t have to think that way, act that way, be that way. Grace says I am drawn to the dark, but have been given light. Grace says my sin, the mess I can never clean up with any amount of mops or bleach, has been more than cleaned–it is forgotten. As though the mess never existed. I am seen as spotless.

 

Remembering my sin, acknowledging I’ve tried to do it on my own and failed, seeing the ever-increasing mess I will never be able to clean…yet accepting the gift of grace, living as an expression of gratitude, knowing my mess is now and forever gone. Reconciling the two is more than my limited mind seems capable of.

So we live in the tension, brought to light more than usual in holy week services and celebrated with finality on Easter. We live in the pull between the whisperings of sin saying, “You can clean up your own mess,” and the melodious shouts of grace, saying, “Your mess has been forgotten, if only you accept it.”

It is good to remember our sin, but we remember from within the loving embrace of grace. There is sorrow for our sin, acceptance that we have and will continue to do wrong…and it pushes us back to grace. The need, the wonder, the beauty of grace.

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Have you ever felt the tension between remembering sin and living in grace?

Christmas Socks and Struggle

Christmas is coming. Not even 3 weeks away now.

I often struggle with Christmas a bit. Not because I don’t like it; I love the decorations, the excitement and anticipation, the music, the time with family and friends, the food, the fun…and yes, I kind of like presents, too.

Which is where my struggle lies.

Sometimes I feel like a bad Christian when I say I like presents. 

Photo Credit: Flicrk User RVWithTito, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flicrk User RVWithTito, Creative Commons

The reality is, I don’t have much money at this point in my life. New things are fairly rare for me. Last week I spent $5 on 2 pairs of Christmas socks and had quite the mental debate over whether or not I should have purchased them (I did, and wore a pair today). Christmas only comes once a year, and it’s about the only time I get any measurable amount of new things. But to say I get them guilt-free? No.

Because although I like getting new things, I know that’s not the point of Christmas. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried more and more to be intentional about focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not only a celebration of Jesus’ birth, but also a hopeful longing for when he returns, when the brokenness will be over and all will be as it should.

How do I reconcile these seemingly conflicting sides of me? The side that appreciates and enjoys new things, and the side that wants to focus on what Christmas is really supposed to be about?

If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

Until I find a perfect solution, I’m working towards an imperfect one. The past few years I’ve included something on the Christmas list I give my parents that’s not for me. There are so many organizations, from ones in my own city to those across the globe, that do so much good in our world; so I ask for a donation to be made to one of them as one of my gifts.

Whatever you do, please don’t think I’m telling you this to brag. The not-so-pretty truth is that yes, I’ve done this, but not entirely wholeheartedly. The thought has crossed my mind that maybe I’d get another movie, sweater, or book if I didn’t request some of the money be given elsewhere. In the past I’ve asked for TOMS; so yes, I still get a gift, but a child receives a pair of shoes in the process.

Is it a perfect way to keep the focus of Christmas where it belongs? No. If I were truly selfless, I’d ask for no gifts for myself, and instead of giving generic gifts to relatives and friends, maybe I’d make sure I purchase ones that support various organizations. Even when I’m in a different spot financially though, and able to feel less guilty about buying such things as Christmas socks, I don’t know that I’ll request no presents for myself. Maybe; but maybe not.

So here I sit, in the tension of first world Christmas, feeling kind of like a bad Christian for liking presents, but not feeling selfless enough to give them all up.

Do you ever struggle with wanting new things at Christmas and trying to keep the focus where it belongs? How do you keep the focus of Christmas where it should be–on Jesus?

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~