Posted in cross-cultural, Spirituality, The Grove Velvet Ashes, Uncategorized

The Annoying Question That Turns out to Be a Gift

„Why are you single?”

If I had a penny for every time I was asked that question, I’d be rich by now!

 

Right now, I live in a place that’s full of single people (almost 50% of Berlin households). Around here, I am not odd. Well, I probably am in lots of ways but not for being single. It used to be a very different story. For a number of years, I lived in a South Asian community in England. In that context, there were no single women around. Girls got married at a young age and generally started having children pretty soon after that. I was the odd one out. In many ways – but the thing that my friends had the hardest time getting their heads around was my singleness. There was no category for me. And so the questions came. Sometimes that was annoying, often hard. I’d always wanted to be married, have a family. A real, honest answer to their questions would have been painful and very vulnerable. I wasn’t always ready to go there. Not with everyone, not in every context. At the same time, I didn’t want to give a glib answer. One that was maybe correct but not always real in my life. And so I fumbled through.

It was only years later that a friend encouraged a group of us to enter into that question more deeply. We were all serving (or preparing to serve) cross-culturally. Our backgrounds were diverse – we were from Eastern and Western Europe, and the Middle East. Mostly women but also some men. My friend, who was leading us through this, was from Eastern Europe herself and for many years had served as a single lady in a neighbouring country. And it was hard. There weren’t many single women around. Certainly not in ministry. And so the questions came, as they had for me and for so many of us. Eventually she realised it wasn’t enough to find peace in her own heart with being single (important though that was). She also longed to respond to the ever-present questions in a way that satisfied her own heart and faith, that reflected God’s love and care for every person, married or single, and that caused her audience “to bless God for her” (as my friend put it).

What an amazing way to think about this! Those awkward questions are actually a gift and an opportunity! An opportunity (and an invitation) for me to wrestle more deeply with God about my own doubts, fears and insecurities. And an opportunity to speak words of hope and healing into hearts that are equally as broken and vulnerable as my own. Because isn’t that what’s really behind many of those question. Am I enough? Whether single or married, we all ask that question.

That question, that oh so annoying question, can help open the vista beyond the immediate, the culturally strange. It can be an opportunity to share about identity, about worth, about God’s care. Beyond marital status, gender, success – the value of a person created in the image of God!

I still don’t have the perfect answer, and maybe I never will. That’s ok. It’s a journey. But I do look at those questions quite differently now.

 

If you are single, how do you answer this question in your context? If you’re married, how do you respond to comments or questions about your team mate’s singleness?

 

This post has been linked to Velvet Ashes, an encouraging site for women serving cross-culturally.

 

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Advertisements
Posted in Culture

200 countries, 200 years

Heartbreaking and encouraging all at the same time.

Encouraging, because overall, people are living longer and healthier lives.  In most places across the globe.

Heartbreaking, because there is and was so much that’s wrong.  The wars that caused so much death.  The selfishness that leaves others behind, across borders and within countries.

Encouraging because there is a lot of good that has come out of medical and technological advances that people have poured their hearts and energy into.

Heartbreaking because there also is a lot of bad.

Beyond all the numbers, there is so much that can never be measured, never be put into statistics – even snazzy ones like this.  All the stories, all the individual lives.  So much smaller and yet so much bigger than the whole.

 

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 7 July 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some of my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Things to watch

“Wild Shepherdess” with Kate Humble.  If, like me, you love discovering how people live around the world, then do watch the first 2 episodes of this!  Kate Humble visits herding families in Afghanistan and Peru, taking part in their everyday lives (in a TV sort of way).  Absolutely fascinating!  Episode 3 takes her to Australia and focusses more on the actual sheep farming side of things.  Not as interesting (to me, anyway).

Things to read

brainAside from the fact that it is somewhat depressing that a book about the “middle-aged brain” seems relevant at all, this is fascinating stuff.  New research into how our brains change and develop as we get older (make that “more mature” 😉 ).  There are things that get harder, definitely, but there are also things that we get better at.  At times, it all gets a bit too scientific for me but overall very very interesting – and encouraging!

Things to listen to

CC Extra: Damascus Diary 24 June 2013

A very moving and personal account by BBC correspondent Lina Sinjab of how the Syrian war has changed both her home city, Damascus, and herself.

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 9 June 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Emoji

Things to read

EuropeansThe Europeans” by Henry James.  Fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable tale of two cultures colliding.  Not dramatically or with fireworks, but in lots and lots of smaller ways.  We’re in mid-19th century New England, and a brother and sister come to stay with their cousins.  Both sides appear to be somewhat in awe of the other, and so have lots of expectations that go unfulfilled.  And so unfold all manner of relational complications.  A good read!

Things to watch

The Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England“.  Amazing documentary on BBC2 about the life of William Tyndale, the first person to translate the Bible into English.  So convinced was he of the importance of his endeavour, that he was willing to live in exile for many years, and in the end gave his life.  Melvyn Bragg (unsurprisingly) does a wonderful job bringing to life the man and the times.  Well worth watching!

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 2 June 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Emoji

Things to watch

I think it was some time back in February that I first started checking when Springwatch might be back 🙂  So you can imagine that I am a tad excited the time has finally come!  For someone who is not normally very interested in nature and science, I have come to really love this programme.  Following the nesting birds in particular is absolutely fascinating!  The characters, the drama – better than any soap opera!  And yet very informative at the same time.  I have learned a lot and have certainly found myself paying a lot more attention to wildlife around me.

Things to read

the-observationsBrilliant book!  Set in Scotland in the 1860s, it’s the story of Bessy, a girl from the slums of Dublin and Glasgow, who ends up working as a maid in a big country house.  Her mistress occasionally gives her some slightly odd tasks.  Slowly, layer by layer, Bessy uncovers what is really going on.  In the process, we also learn something about her own, pretty tragic,  life story.  For all that, the book is not depressing at all, rather there is a lot of warmth and humour.

 

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 26 May 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Emoji

Things to watch

If you missed the the final part of the latest series of Dr Who – watch it!  It was amazing!  Now for a long wait until 23 November…

“This House” by James Graham.  Wonderful play, set in the two Whip’s offices during the 1974-1979 parliament.  Great behind-the-scenes look at the workings of parliament.  Interesting as well to have an interview with Ann Taylor (who features in the play) during the interval.