15 December 2017

Life & Sole: Nothing can separate us from God!

Through the open door you can smell the familiar Christmas aroma of apple and cinnamon and almost taste the delicious freshly baked cakes as you listen to your favourite Christmas carols in the background. Isn’t this the epitome of Christmas? The joyful time with your family, friends and people who you love dearly. I treasure Christmas time, not only for the atmosphere, but for its deeper meaning; Jesus Christ, the son of God, was born and died for me and for my sins.

However, not everyone likes Christmas time and often it is a more pressured time for those of us who are single. You can always rely on a family member, usually the gossip-loving auntie, to ask you if you have found that ‘special someone’ yet. This is usually followed by those moments of silence, when you can almost cut the atmosphere with a knife and hear the echo of “why not?” Situations like these just remind me of the Bridget Jones movie. So bizarre and yet painfully real. However, most of our stories have not reached their happy endings yet. We look forward to spending time with our families at Christmas to feel love, warmth and understanding. Instead, what we feel is shame. Not because of something we have done that dishonours God, but because of something that society deems shameful – the shame of being single. Fabienne Harford refers to this as ‘misplaced shame.’ She has written a great series about being single. You will find some references from her work in this article and I hope that it will be encouraging to you.

During the Christmas period we can feel the pressure of shame even more. Feeling shame for something that dishonours God is good for us because by God’s grace He will lead us to repent and grow in His likeness. The shame of being single does not come from dishonouring God, rather it comes from self-deprecating thoughts such as: my body is too big or curvy, my teeth are not white or straight enough, I am too bald or too hairy. The list is endless. I am sure that many of you can relate to what I am writing about. Yes, the shame is felt during the family gathering when someone approaches you with the question, “Why are you still single?” When you find that most, if not all your friends are married, you end up being labelled by family and friends as ‘the single one’. This creeps deep inside and forms your belief that people are single because they are weird or something is wrong with them and you know what kind of questions are then planted in your head.

What is the right way to handle these situations? No one can justify our shame of singleness only Him. We are not victims of society, rather we are simply sinners. Nevertheless, in such situations we often strive for selfjustification or justification from others. Self-justification will make us dependent on continually trying to prove ourselves to the world. Fear of failure will be our biggest enemy. I can tell you, that you will fail, not once but many times, we all do. Justification from others will bring us to the very narrow path of constantly seeking friendships and relationships with others. Seeking constant approval from others will make our friendships and relationships one-sided. We will be dependent on what people think about us. This will create a pressure which causes a bitterness to grow inside us. Therefore, we are likely to develop a habit of pointing out the mistakes of others and gossiping about other people in order to protect the one-sided image we have created of ourselves. If we understand justification as a process of making one right with God (a very simplistic view) then self-justification and seeking approval from others are attitudes against God. Based on this we must understand that only God is the way to the true justification. Harford explains that the ‘shame of singleness’, which we experience in being single, will not leave us till it drives us to Him.

We need to understand that everything, our body, our problems and all our issues (including being single) are ordained by God for our good. We are all important parts of the body of Christ and because of this we need to recognise God’s perfect love for us and accept His perfect plan for our lives. When we do this, Christmas becomes the prime opportunity to show those closest to us who God is. Although as singles we can feel the pressure of the season, Christmas is the time when we can take the focus off ourselves and place it completely on Jesus Christ where it rightly belongs. In Him we are not to be ashamed, but we are covered by His love and must share this LOVE with others.

So now ask yourself, “How can I start to do this? I am a single man/woman, if I only had a partner, a house…” STOP there!!!

Try again. How can I start with this? Well, New Year is coming and I need to choose the next steps. The Bible says “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) Therefore, I need to use this opportunity of a new start to make some changes in my life.

Think how you can encourage your church to deal with this issue. What is your biggest waste of time as a single person and how can you change it or how can you be a more active part of the body of Christ? I am sure you have many other questions. I just want to let you know that God loves you so much and He created you in His image. He believes in you and He wants to use you. He loves you and nothing, really nothing, can separate you from Him. This next year will have its ups and downs, but He is with you. As the Bible promises: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Happy New Year and do not forget – nothing can separate us from God!

Zuzana Polackova