"Singularity"    [ 20 ]   
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Oct 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

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World English Dictionary
sin·gu·lar·i·ty

1. the state, fact, or quality of being singular
2. something distinguishing a person or thing from others
3. something remarkable or unusual; a unique quality or peculiarity
4. Mathematics : singular point.
5. Astronomy : (in general relativity) the mathematical representation of a black hole

 

This isn't how I had always imagined middle age would be.

 

When I was a kid, thinking ahead this far in time – considering "life in my 40's" – was as alien a thought as windsurfing through the clouds of Jupiter... storm fronts larger than the entire earth! Adults at that unthinkable age had it all figured out, I thought... or at least enough to give off an air of certainty that, as a teen, I could scarcely imagine. Now that I'm here, struggling to juggle the myriad duties and countless concerns of the single parent's life, I find that more often than not my days resemble that old Soundgarden video for "Black Hole Sun", traced around the edges by the nihilistic tendencies of "Them Bones" (Alice in Chains).

I long to live according to the challenge set forth by poet E. E. Cummings, who said:

"Let's live suddenly without thinking, under honest trees, as a stream does."

. .. but I find I must plot our life out to the day - week by week, month by month - just to make sure everything that needs to get done, gets done... or at least addressed in a timely manner. Come spring time, I have already charted most every weekend of our summer just to ensure that everything requiring our time and attention (work, educational, play) is properly addressed for my family.   —  Who does this?   Who is this organized, compelled, harried..? Parents who must Do Everything Themselves, watch over and guide the lives entrusted to them during this precious season.  I often think to myself: * MAN * it sure would be Great to have a 'helper' in the form of a suitable partner, but how often what we think we need, and what God KNOWS is best for our lives, are often so very very different. A couple of my favorite Perspective verses spring to mind:

 

God, your thoughts are precious toward me.
How numerous they are!
If I could count them, they would be more
than all the grains of sand!
Psalm 139:17-18
 
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
  neither are your ways my ways,"
                        declares the LORD.
"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

 

At work a few years ago, while discussing the rampant divorce rate evidenced by our generation's "enlightened society", I deplored how there simply is no way to trust that anyone you meet is really as devoted to the idea of Marital Commitment as those who still - traditionally - are. She proposed I build a website to perhaps attract like-minded souls who have the kind of fortitude to still find marital commitment attractive. And I actually considered doing this, as weighed against my constrained schedule, only to learn that sites like 'eHarmony' and 'ChristianCafe' have already built such massive databases that I might be better off just taking advantage of their screening techniques instead of re-inventing the wheel myself. It would be much easier, I thought, to cast my name into their profile-crunching machines to discover a possible 'match'. And that is how I fell into (so-called) Online Dating.

 Logan's Run

What I learned is that there are some seriously unstable people out there...! What's worse, though one might reveal personal strengths and faults with all sincerity through these match-making methods, there is NO guarantee that those on the other side of your computer screen operate by the same code of ethics. I encountered more, shall we say, 'exaggerators' than I ever would have suspected. What's worse, I soon discovered that we men who are not 'Perfect Jesus, with money" just don't attract women who describe themselves as a "sold-out Christian" online.  I suppose, just as in the 1976 movie "Logan's Run", they click through the internet meat-market 'Circuit' to select The Perfect Man/model to play with. (Plenty of weekend 'players' online as well, it turns out, even on Christian sites...) And just like in the movie, I too echo Logan's lament against the social norm:

"There is no Sanctuary..."

I even considered Craigslist . . . until I actually looked on Craigslist.  [ !! ]

Through it all, I did manage to meet a couple of nice, normal-seeming women. However, the geographical distance precluded our ever meeting IRL (in real life). I did fly to Canada once to take a young lady out to dinner —(honest, that's all!)— and we had a great weekend spending time together in person. She was a wonderful woman! But with no children or anything, she harbored dreams of visiting Italy. And why not? Sounded like a fabulous idea to me, too! Yet, as a single dad with loads of pre-assigned responsibilities, I had to make the decision not to limit her trips to just one trip.. to Arizona. So I bid her a reluctant but fond farewell, and flew back home. We kept in touch for a little while after that. I heard that she eventually met a great guy right there in her church and was able to pursue her dreams with him. I felt so very happy for her - for them!  It wasn't long until I disconnected from the whole "online dating scene" altogether.

I understand people in bygone centuries married for family connections, security, and rearing children – all very practical reasons. In our hyped up 'modern' world, such sentiments seem restrictive, antiquated, even backward. We want to marry [quote] "for Love" instead of devoting ourselves to building Love upon the commitment of two souls in the light of God (granted, two souls who desire one another's friendship, companionship, intimacy). More to the point, we so often marry because we think: s/he will "make me happy".  Self-centeredness is so often the root of marital motivation anymore. It's not about Loving Someone Until Death Do You Part . .. but rather, Loving Someone Until They No Longer Entertain or Provide Enough for 'ME'. And then comes divorce, devastated families, emotionally mutilated children . . . not to mention what it does to the spirits of the divorcing couple . . .. Fractured homes are more common than married households now.

This breaks my heart ~ it really does.

The apostle Paul had a few things to say about Getting Married. In his first letter to the church of Corinth, he states in plain terms how he wishes his readers would remain single and celibate as he himself lived (v. 7 & 8). His reasoning goes as follows:

 
"I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about
  the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned
  about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are
  divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her
  aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is
  concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am
  saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right
  way in undivided devotion to the Lord."  —  the Apostle Paul (1 Cor 7:32-35)
 

One of my heroes from the Old Testament, Daniel, lived a celibate life. Many scholars attest he didn't have much of a choice in the matter, as invading forces typically castrated conquered male servants! Either way, most agree that Daniel remained unmarried all the years of his life while serving God Almighty in the courts of one pagan king after another. (Tough gig! - "Meet the new boss.. same as the old boss...") It is also generally believed that neither Elijah, nor his successor Elisha, ever married. John the Baptist, of course, did not marry. Like the rest of these guys (and many others), he walked all the days of his life here on earth *bereft* of the deep human companionship most hope for in a marriage union.

To the contrary, there were also specific individuals whom God instructed point-blank to seek marriage, have kids – the works! One recalls the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Such matters were so important to God that He even killed a guy (Onan) for "spilling his seed" rather than provide the wife of his dead brother with offspring as mandated (Genesis 38:9-10). Practical matters!

Paul freely admits that there is nothing wrong whatsoever in seeking marriage, just that it might easily cloud or compromise one's devotion to pursue the Lord as one could, fulfilling (it is implied) one's highest calling during our short stay here on earth. Then again, God Himself established the institution of marriage, declaring it to be Good. Psalms are peppered with references to God's blessings as found in a good and faithful spouse - and kids! (Contrarily, He *hates* divorce . . see Malachi 2:16)

At this age — middle age — one wonders about the impact and long-term effectiveness of one's choices in life. Paul encouraged followers of The Way to live "quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" in the towns and provinces where they lived (1 Thes 4:11-12, 1 Timothy 2:1-3), marriage notwithstanding. Look around and you will find too many married homes made up of fakers, cheaters, and discontent lonely souls. It's tragic, really. But now and again, you will find that rare thing which is a marriage carefully crafted by two loving, devoted, God-honoring committed souls. And *THAT* is something to behold! Even my children comment on some of our friends and their families . .. what a blessing it is just to be with them and see how well they function in their inner-family dynamics, how effectively they love one another and, by extension, their surrounding community. It truly is a Beautiful Thing!

So, in the absence of a God-fearing mother figure in the lives of my own children, I wonder now and again if I should consider Marriage once more. My kids are all for it, citing that "Whoever she would be, she would obviously be cool! And fun! And really Christian!" Gotta love kids!  :-)  If given the chance, they would likely challenge me to build a website and start screening for such a wonder . . .

 

He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the LORD.
Proverbs 18:22
 

Some years ago, a little book by Charles Sheldon resurfaced after decades in obscurity ("In His Steps" ©1896), and became one of the must-read titles of the 1990's, which in turn led to a glut of 'WWJD' wristbands, bumper stickers, T-shirts and hats. It rose and fell as most cultural fads do, except for those who deeply pondered the ramifications of such ideals both before and after the mainstream craze. What *would* Jesus Do in any given circumstance..? Well, one thing He *did* do regularly was go off by Himself to be alone with God the Father and pray, often through the night. One thing Jesus did NOT do was get married and have kids (and yet He *LOVED* kids!). He remained singularly focused on His mission, which was nothing short of Absolute Redemption for all mankind! It is safe to say that everyone else is not called to that unique ministry [!!] ... so although the concept [WWJD] is a good mental exercise, it frankly falls short when applied to the lives of millions of unique parts of God's church here on earth, and the myriad trials and choices we all face every day. The better question would be to ask oneself: "How may I best glorify God in this situation?" How might we best carry out His Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) through the intricacies and overlapping complexities of our daily lives, here and now, right where we are? (Or abroad, if you are free to travel?)

Regarding marriage, I discovered an answer for myself with which I will conclude today's topic. If I were to meet a woman with whom I could imagine the possibility of entwining our futures together, my guiding principle would be this: If by joining our lives together in marriage we could Serve God BETTER together, then I could and would entertain the possibility of marriage. On the other hand, if an objective assessment of the dynamics of our lives revealed that marriage really would not support that goal, or worse, serve to confound God's leading in our lives (for either or both of us) - then forget it!  ~ Not interested! ~  I would rather live the rest of my days alone on earth than foul up some poor woman's life, or have her foul up mine ...and the lives of any poor children in the mix!

Since becoming unexpectedly single years ago, I have had the opportunity to put this ideal to the test . . . and it's solid, saving me and the women I have met much heartache, I should think. And, if you're NOT going to marry someone, what better way to honor them than protecting their virtue by recognizing and supporting their freedom in God's loving, guiding hands? I have walked away by choice from unhealthy situations in the past, and also enjoy vibrant 'just friends' relationships with women I have met in the last few years. If True Love involves really seeking God's Best for those around you, then leaving them in God's care, under His direction, following His guidance, relegating yourself to that 'just friends' status —( which is not a bad thing, when all is considered )— may sometimes prove to be the wisest choice for many man/woman relationships. I am firmly convinced that seeking to love others in this fashion not only honors God, but also allows Him to Really Guide you even in your own life . . possibly even to that Special Someone .. . the RIGHT Special Someone .. .   :-)

 

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