Thursday, November 24, 2016

Single for the Holidays

I've always been one to do my best to limit Christmas things to the month of December as much as possible. Obviously, that doesn't work with everything, but as much as I can I do. It's just the way I've always done it. So, it seems a little strange to me that the post coming to mind right now relates to a topic that seems to come up often around Christmas.

In this time of Christmas parties, and New Year's parties, and other gatherings it often seems people feel compelled to bring up the topic of my singleness. I don't know why I'll get more questions in the next month and a half than I will the rest of the year, but if this year follows the pattern of every other year, I will.

Most of the time, the question is asked innocently enough. And the person asking doesn't realize how many people have asked. But, that doesn't stop it from getting tiring to be constantly asked and have to answer it.

The hardest part of all of it is that this is the time of year I seem to be more aware of my singleness than other times. Always RSVPing to my work Christmas party for just one. Going to other holiday functions alone.

I think that's what can make continually being asked about it more difficult. It's just another reminder that my life doesn't look like I hoped it would, in a season full of them.

I've debated about posting this, because I don't want to come across as negative, or make it sound like my life is all hard. But, there are times when I run into situations where some extra understanding from both sides is needed. From me when I get asked again - and from the person asking, who might now even know how many times I've been asked recently.

I think at the core of this is really understanding and living from the understanding that our identity goes far beyond their marital status. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it - we can't define people by their marital status. Yes, it's a part of who they are, but it's definitely not all.

Every person is so much more than that, and we need to operate from that belief. When we do, it changes how interact with one another - regardless of the situation.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Church Family is a Must

Yes, you need a church you belong to.

These days, that's a controversial statement. I probably upset a few of you reading this to state it that way. But, right now, I'm okay with that, because I believe it's true. I hope you'll keep reading and see why I state this so emphatically.

If you've read my posts for any length of time you know I write regularly about our need for community, about our need for people we can share life with. As I was writing my last post on this topic, I was struck by how needing each other goes beyond those we naturally choose to create community with.

Those amazing sisters in Christ I was surrounded by in the situations I referenced in that post went beyond just those I intentionally built community with. And they were there in those moments because they are part of the larger church family I belong to. When those I don't normally rely on in those moments weren't there, my church family was still able to be there for me.

It's not just because of that I think we need to be a part of a church somewhere. When I read Scripture, I see the church as something instituted by God. The common arguement that the church is just something created by man doesn't stand. Some of our structures and the way we do church when we're together may be man-made, but the idea of church is not.

All through the letters in the New Testament and all through the book of Acts, there is discussion of the church and of the importance of meeting together. In the face of everything the church of the day faced, they needed each other and they needed the encouragement of meeting together. In our world today, it's just as important.

When I talk about church, I'm not talking about just a group of people we know, and like, and choose to be around. That's a small picture of what the church is.

Church is also about learning from others in the body of Christ who we would not be normally drawn to spend time with.We need the diversity that comes from different life experiences. And that requires us to be a part of a church body that is larger than just our friends and those we are naturally drawn to.

Yes, I would say that it's important to be a part of one of the local expressions of the body of Christ we call the church. Part of the larger group of people who make up the congregations in one of the church buildings we drive by in our communities.

I can't tell you which one you should be a part of. I won't tell you the size it needs to be. I won't tell you the theological distinctives it has to have (I will say that it should be a Gospel-centered, Bible-living church). Those are things you have  to figure out for yourself.

I can't tell you that you won't be hurt at some point by the people who make up that church. In fact, I can probably safely say you will be hurt by some of them at some point. But, even when that happens, it's not an excuse to stay away from the church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
We need to be part of a local church body. One that goes beyond just our friends and those we're naturally drawn to.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

We Need Each Other

We weren't meant to journey through this life alone. We need each other. God created us this way.

I was a retreat with my church last weekend and the theme was about celebrating our place in God's family. Talking about how we all belong. And about our need for one another.

Then we spent Monday night at the women's Bible study I lead talking about the people in our lives. The people we need and the people who need us. Both of these types of people are important in our lives.

In the last couple week this has been more than a topic I heard people talk about or that I discussed in a study with other people. It's something I lived. I was reminded in some very real ways of my need for others in the family of God. And it was confirmed to me the amazing sisters in Christ I'm surrounded by.

People who were there in ways I needed, but couldn't always express.

People who were patient enough to just sit with me.

People who didn't just come in to try to fix things for me, but who really cared about me in the moment.

The more I reflect on this, the more I realize that having this kind of family around us doesn't just happen by accident. Being a part of God's family and having people around that you need and who need you only happens when we do the work to make it happen. We have to be intentional about it.

We have to do the work of finding those people in our lives, of finding a local gathering of believers that we will be a part of, and that we're not going to leave just because we don't like something.

We need to seek out those people we need in our lives and who need us. And we need to build relationships full of grace and forgiveness with them. It's messy to build these relationships with others. But, it's what we need. We need people in the good times and bad times to walk with us, and it won't happen by accident.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
The writer of Hebrews knew the importance of being a part of the family of God - of having people around to walk through life with you. And he was reminding his readers to keep pursuing it - as they had in the past.

We weren't made to do this alone. We need each other.

Are you a part of a gathering of believers that you're committed to sticking with?

Who are the people in your life that you need? Who needs you? Are you intentionally building these relationships?