Today’s blog is a guest post by Justin Campbell. Justin is a 40 year old single guy living and working in St. Louis. You can read more by him at his blog More Than Don’t Have Sex, where he writes about singleness, Jesus, the church, and how we can all be in it together.
I don’t get mad super easily. It’s a gift from my family, as my parents are the same way. I can get pretty fired up and intense (those who know me are laughing) but in my heart it takes a lot to make me actually mad at another person – with the exception of the guy who cut me off in traffic, but that’s a whole other problem – Ha.
But when it comes to myself, it takes very, very little for me to get mad. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the fact that we are mad at God. This is true for basically everyone but as singles it is very easy for us to become bitter towards God because He hasn’t “delivered” a spouse. But the second person who I’m most mad at, if I’m honest, is me.
Now I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog challenging us to look at our crap and deal with our sin. I’ve said we spend too much time over spiritualizing singleness, marriage and dating and it keeps us from dealing with reality and our shortcomings. I’ve said a lot of the reason that we are single is us. I absolutely, 100% stand by all of that. But today I want to flip the script a little.
There’s so many directions I could take this but let’s start with a couple of key points. First off it’s important to realize that we are not the only actor on the stage. In our current Christian Culture we often act like the whole thing is about us and God and that only the two of us are in the story. This is so bad on so many levels theologically, philosophically, and practically. But it is also bad in our context of singleness. It assumes that either I or God is to blame for everything that goes into me being single.
This can lead to a inaccurate view of the truth. There are other players in the game. For example, when you ask someone out, you have no idea what is going on in her world. Maybe her saying no has nothing to do with you. The other person is on the stage. I mean there’s been times when I think I’ve missed on someone I should have pursued – someone could make a mistake with you.
Even when it comes to dealing with our own brokenness we need to be careful. Let’s say I struggle with passivity towards women. Well being mad at myself for being passive isn’t going to help. I need to dive into where that comes and while that will include my own sin, most of the time it will also include healing from wounds inflicted by . . . you guessed it. . . other people.
All of this doesn’t even take into account the fact that we have an enemy.
Usually what I do is first I get mad at God, then realize how stupid that kind of is, and start being mad at myself. It’s very easy to just start pummeling myself – usually pouring salt into the wounds I’ve faced. ”I’m just not good enough” “Why did I say that to her – I’m so stupid.” “If I had my stuff more together” “I’m pathetic (worthless, ugly, a screwup, etc.)”. By the way this all get’s turned up a notch if I think there is only THE ONE and I’m scared of blowing it.
Making matters worse is that often the Church accidentally pours it on. In attempt to remind us that we don’t earn salvation we often seem to define ourselves as just sinners. I get the point but man we have to be careful. All bad stuff comes from sin, but not everything that happens comes from my sin. It’s not all my fault but I’m a part of the problem.
Worst of all what we usually do is get it backwards. We view how we got wounded as somehow our fault and then we excuse our sinful reactions to it. Holy smokes that’s bad. We HAVE to reverse that.
Dealing with our sin, wounds, and shortcomings is critical. But beating the crap out of ourselves adds to that. That is not from God. It is not humility. In addition when it comes to dating it will never, never be attractive. Never, not even a little.
When I’m mad at myself, I need to stop and ask what is going on underneath. (For me personally it’s a huge check engine light – time to get under the hood). I need to stop and get an accurate view of what is going on (community is key here), and then if it is something that has to do with me, I need to take that to Jesus and go about figuring out how to change it.
Where in the context of Singleness do you beat yourself up? Do you only see you and God on the stage?