In January, we began to periodically feature posts submitted by readers of the FastPray blog. It’s encouraging to know there is a whole community of Jesus followers fasting and praying on Mondays.
We fast and pray asking for the Lord to bring healing in our times: for men to be bold and to walk in to relationships with women, for women to be soft and willing to be molded by God’s gracious plan in their lives, and for God to give the good gift of marriage to those who desire it.
“I’ve got it-spinning!”
“Yes! I can just picture myself sitting at a spinning wheel, turning wool into yarn ready for me to knit. Lulled to sleep by the sound of the turning wheel.”
Mum and I laughed at that most unlikely picture.
“Making bread! That’s it! The repetitive motion of kneading will help you relax so you can sleep.”
“Great idea. At 10pm every night I get out the dough, give it a few bashes and sleep like a baby!”
Again, we laughed as we lay by the pool at the end of a warm 39 degree (Celsius) day, brainstorming solutions to help me sleep. We are known for being poor sleepers in our family and I’m carrying on the tradition. So mum and I were thinking of relaxing hobbies that would help me have ‘screen-off’ time for an hour or so before bed. The bricks were warm beneath our towels in the early evening and the blue sky was gradually turning indigo. It was the 23rd of December and we enjoyed the moment of fun together.
On Christmas Eve, I went back to my parents’ place to give them their gifts. I’d made a basket of Christmas baking and I didn’t want to take it to my Aunt’s house for Christmas lunch the next day (too hot!). Having encountered some financial difficulties this year, I’d tried to make as many of my Christmas gifts as possible (these had been greatly appreciated by all those too busy to have time for baking that I, being a teacher on summer holidays, had plenty of time to do.)
But it was the card and what I said, that made mum well up in tears. I explained how happy it made me to have parents who were my friends. That the previous day of laughing and chatting by the pool was something I really valued. To go and see action movies with my dad (because I’m the only girl in my circle of friends who seems to like them!) was something I always looked forward to. And that a positive side to being single is that I’ve been able to develop a much closer relationship with them. It all comes down to time. I’ve had time (and the need, to be honest!) to be with them much more than if I’d been married with children. And so we’ve become great friends.
This is not the specific case for everyone, but often there are blessings that we experience because of our singleness and it’s important to recognise and celebrate these. One friend has been able to develop particular ministries in her church that she has devoted a lot of time to; time she probably wouldn’t have had as a wife and mother. Another friend has built a career that required a significant prioritisation of time and has been able to witness for Christ in the corporate world. Other friends have supported family through difficult times and as the single family member, others have been able to rely on them. In doing so, they’ve developed close friendships with family members that are often rare today.
So what about you? How has God enabled you to experience a blessing through your singleness? How have you been able to carry God’s blessing to others?
Sometimes it is easy to see the ‘silver lining’ while other times we seem to only see the cloud. But if we are in that clouded time, an important tool to help keep our heads above water (sorry-mixed metaphors!) is the practice of thanksgiving. My dad, who has lived with bipolar disorder since I was 21, keeps a diary and one thing he always makes note of is that for which he can be thankful. So in those moments of depression, he looks back and sees a record of God’s goodness that may not be so obvious in a ‘down’ period. I’ve learned a lot from him about making a deliberate choice to be thankful whenever I can and to record my thankfulness as the truth to hold onto when I may experience a ‘cloudy’ season. And in whatever season, we can always give thanks to our Father for sending Jesus through whom we have grace and love abounding.
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge” 1 Cor 1:4-5
Father God we thank you, not as an afterthought or grudgingly, but with an overwhelming sense that in you we are loved so deeply and bought so dearly. Thank you for reaching out and saving us and bestowing on us the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven, making us your sons and daughters. You have also blessed us with many blessings today and we thank you for those. Help us keep these in mind when we are struggling with the pain of singleness and may we never lose sight of how precious we are to you. Thank you for delighting in us. Help us delight in our relationship with you.