There are a lot of Christian singles in our churches today. Increasingly, these are older, never-married Christian women in their 30s, 40s, or beyond. Statistics bear this out. The gender imbalance between men and women is great: in the US, church attendance is on average 61% female, 39% male; in the UK, acccording to a 2007 survey, 65% female, 35% male.
One of the major issues with shame is that it blocks the essential process of recognizing and repenting of sin. This may seem counter-intuitive. Shame-filled people feel bad about themselves and feel they do wrong all the time. Shouldn't they be overly sensitive about their sin?
The answer is no. At least, not in the right way.
Shame. I'm no psychologist or expert, but I do have a lot of experience with that toxic emotion called shame.
Shame is more than an emotion. It's a total perception of yourself. It's the fundamental belief that you are worthless, bad, unlovable, unqualified. It silences your voice, causes you to retreat inside yourself, avoid relationship, and live in a toxic stew of depression, anxiety, and feeling bad about yourself all of the time.
As Christians, it is unfortunately not the case that we arrive at a point where we never have to deal with any remnant of the sinful nature. While transformation, growth, and maturity are definite realities, and genuine change is not only possible but an essential sign of someone who has been truly born again, we will continue to be ambushed by our sinful nature while we're still living on this earth.
“I don't think it matters if there is a god or not. I've met people who believe in God that are good and that are bad. And I've met people who don't believe in God that are good and that are bad. So, just be good. I'm good. Not cos I think I'll go to heaven but because when I do something bad, I feel bad. And when I do something good, I feel good.”
I read this quote, attributed to Ricky Gervais, in a meme-style photo posted to a friend's Facebook page, and couldn't stop thinking about it.
I'm single. I've been single for most of my adult life. And I'm ok with that. Mostly. I am a 33 year old woman, and I suppose by most accounts I should be panicking about my age and single status. And I'm not. There are days (thankfully few and far between) when I feel sad about being single, and frustrated that it seems impossible to find anyone. There are other days (thankfully most of them) when I don't think about it much at all. And other days when I feel genuinely thankful to be single. Marriage has a lot of great aspects and upsides. But so does being single.
He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
A few months ago, I had an experience which affected me profoundly. It was my birthday. I went for a run down to the waterfront and sat for a little while on the beach looking out at peaceful waves lapping the shore. Since it was my birthday, I was in a bit of a thoughtful mood, reviewing my life and the events of the past year. I began thanking God for each blessing he had given me and all the good things in my life.
I’ve been struck very strongly recently by the fact that there are two possible, radically different ways to live. We each have the choice—I have the choice of which way I will live. This is a very personal conviction, so I’m going to write this as if I’m writing it to myself, which I am.