Why do we usually have a tendency to look at other people and be envious, thinking their lives are more fulfilling or somehow easier than our own? I've been thinking about the issue of comparison between women, for example. It is so rife – and yet so deadly.
We look at others and think they are younger, more beautiful, have a more high-powered job or simply seem to be more 'together' than we are. But, as I said in a previous post, we are all wired differently and all have a physical make up that is different. And yet we are ALL made in God's image. How easily we forget that. Instead of celebrating that fact, we get caught up in the trap of comparison and render ourselves useless at times.
I know that the issue of singleness and churches has been a big one in recent years, and I totally agree that church leaders often haven't known what to do with very capable singles. We were asked where our single leaders are at a recent conference. I'm sure that adds to the big divide there can seem to be between singles and marrieds in churches. Oh it so shouldn't be like that. But I know we have a responsibility for that too.
If I'm honest, I can often look at single people and be envious of the time they seem to have, or the lack of responsibilities at home regarding family life. It means they can do things when they want to, take up opportunities I may not be able to because I have things at home I need to be there for. But I'm sure they can often look at me and think I 'have it all' – a husband, children, ministry, job.
Having spent most of my twenties basically living alone because my husband was camped out in the recording studio working incredibly long hours, I spent evenings and weekend after weekend alone and, rather than spending that time positively, allowed loneliness to envelop me. I had to learn a lot of hard lessons because of that, but it has enabled me to empathise with others at times.
Why is our human nature such that we always look 'over there' and think it is better? I so long for those within church communities to 'do life together' in such a way that both single people and married, of all different ages, are open enough with what is going on in their lives that we can learn more about what it is like to experience life from another person's perspective.
Homes should be open and inviting – and not just the family homes either. While I do believe it is important for families to include those that are single in their everyday lives so that they feel a part of things, it is also the responsibility of single people to reach out and invite couples and families to their homes too. We can bless one another with what we have – it's such a special thing to be invited to someone else's home so don't underestimate it and think 'oh they won't want to come to my house/flat'!
The overly commercialised Valentine's Day experience is about to be upon us. That day when husbands and wives dutifully buy one another a gift and possibly organise a 'date night' experience, while single people either have a flurry of excitement or the pang of disappointment.
We choose to celebrate the day simply because it gives us an excuse to focus on one another – something that too often can get swept away in the busyness of pastoring a church. But what I'd love for us to take away from that day is what the essence of love is – time. Giving time and space to another individual, showing them you care enough to slow down and listen to what interests them and what struggles they are having.
That doesn't have to be something that only couples do. Friends of all ages and marital states can do it too. I really do believe that, due to our western world's crazy pace of life, time is one of the most precious things we have to give to each other these days. Who is there that you can give time to today, this week, this month?