Carolyn McCulley from Solo Femininity hits the nail on the head once again. She was able to put into words something I've been experiencing, but hadn't been able to express in words.
As the holidays approach, it's time to prepare our hearts for many
similar year-end conversations. I've been thinking about this
conversation a lot lately, and about why it's so hard to have it. And I
think it comes down to this: We can't boast. We can't boast in a ring.
Or boast in a faithful husband. Or--for most of us--boast in our
offspring. Others may have "braggin' rights," but we have to endure
awkward, too-personal questions.
"This conversation" = basically any conversation that includes something to the effect of "oh, so you're still single."
But, this idea of having nothing to brag about does not just pertain to those "so you're still single" conversations. Often times it includes many conversations I have with a married (usually newly married) friend. Especially when they say things (often times without realizing it) about how great their life is because of their husband, children, two cars in the garage--and oh don't forget about the prefect new table cloth. Oh, what a happy life! Or when they tell me they are so glad the timing of their marriage works out so that they are not too old (usually my age or my age +2 is stated) to have the perfect life plan for marriage and kids.
You know . . . it is really hard to rejoice for others when their good news feels like a slap in the face. I try, I try really hard, to be happy for them. And, it is not that I am not happy for them. It is just that their hapiness stings a little. So, I need time to recover from the sting of the slap before I can honestly express my happiness for them.
AND, what makes it even harder . . . is that the person did NOT mean to give me (nor even realizes she has given me) a slap in the face by sharing with me good news. She is simply sharing happy news with a friend.
Oh, but let's go back to Carolyn and her post. Instead of telling me I was justified in being miffed by these conversations . . . instead of telling me I could sulk a little while I nursed the red mark left from the sting . . . instead of telling me I was ok to have stonger longings after these conversations . . . instead of telling me that what I was feeling was what every single woman feels and it's just my internal clock ticking . . . instead of making me feel better about the fact that I have to have these conversations . . .
Yeah, instead of any of these she tells me this:
We all compare ourselves to each other and measure ourselves by each other. But that's pride at work. Whatever
we've received is all of grace. That perspective is what C.J. taught us
so well on Sunday. His two sermon points were that grace produces
humility and grace prepares us for suffering. As I've said before,
prolonged, unwanted singleness is a form of suffering. But here's the
good news: The sanctifying grace that is at work in our singleness
prepares us for this suffering and it produces the humility not to
react in pride (self-pity, defensiveness, sarcastic responses) to
unthinking conversations like the one above.
Ouch! That stings. She once again makes me feel like I have a buddy who understands my pain and suffering only to tell me--"yeah, its true it hurts, but in reality you greatest need ain't a husband, ain't a car-load of kids to love, ain't that you need something to brag about . . . it is that you need a Savior. He gave you that. He has given you grace. He has met your greatest need. See that right there, Amanda? Yep, over there trying to hide in that dark corner--that, my friend, is Mr. Pride."
Oh and how silly my heart is that it lets Mr. Pride in! Read this powerful quote from January 22 from Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon:
O believer, learn to reject pride, seeing that you have no ground for it. Whatever you are, you have nothing to make you proud. The more you have, the more you are in debt to God; and you should not be proud of that which renders you a debtor. . . . O you who are valiant for truth, you would have been as valiant for error if grace had not laid hold upon you. Therefore, do not be proud, though you have a large influence—a wide domain of grace, for once you did not have a single thing to call your own except your sin and misery. Oh, strange infatuation that you, who has borrowed everything, should think of exalting yourself—a poor, dependent pensioner upon the bounty of your Savior, one who has a life that dies without fresh streams of life from Jesus, and yet is proud! Fie on you, O silly heart!
Hmm . . .that stings too. But in a good way. Thanks, Carolyn for the slap--I needed it.