I am beginning to see adverse effects from long-term singleness. It is impacting my attitudes and behaviors. For me, the years of singleness haven’t just been life without a husband; it has been a struggle to connect with people and develop meaningful friendships. My past is littered with unreturned emails and declined invitations. I have been disappointed and hurt. My attempts to develop friendships, especially at church, have left me cynical. Now I am beginning to realize how these experiences have impacted my willingness to give other people a chance. Further, I have found comfort in my life and my routine, and I have become reluctant to share it with anyone new.
Being single means that there are fewer demands on my time. There is peace and freedom in this, but it makes it easier to be self-centered. I have become too comfortable in my routine and my little world. After all, my comfort zone has all of the amenities. While I am often lonely and desirous of fellowship, I have come to prefer the loneliness of what is known and easy, to the unknown potential of something new. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t so stuck in my own world. A decade ago, not only did I participate in activities, I organized them! But some of those very experiences are what led me to where I am today.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
I know that God does not want me to be skeptical of people. Moreover, I have been looking closely at my cynicism, and I think it may be an excuse to cover for laziness and selfishness. When it comes down to it, I am used to my time being mine, and I want to use it how I want to use it. Writing that statement down for the first time made me cringe. It pointed me directly toward my sinful error: my time isn’t mine – it’s God’s. And He wants me to use my time the way He wants me to use it!
I came to see all of this clearly this week because I realized I had been the one to not follow through on a friendship. I say that I want to make friends, but at the end of the day, I don’t want to sacrifice my time for other people. I know Satan must like this attitude in me, because every time I contemplate doing something new or offering some of my time, I hear his voice giving me all of the reasons that I shouldn’t: I’m too tired; I’d be out too late; I need to do this or that at home.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
I can feel God working to shake things up in my life because somehow He drew me back to the shoebox processing center last Friday night, in spite of all the Devil’s reasons for me to stay home. So now I am trying to figure out all of the other things that God might be wanting me to do. I’m scared because I feel like I am going to lose control of my cherished “free time,” when I’ve finally learned to be disciplined and use it wisely. Yet that is the point, isn’t it? My time isn’t actually mine to control and I should be looking for God to direct me as to how I should use it.
I know that these lessons of self-control coming together with the conviction in my heart about selfishness is not a coincidence. Over the past few years, God was laying on my heart to write, and I had to learn to use my time better so that I could accomplish what I felt He was calling me to do. Then, there was the hectic season this fall, in which I had to find an extra level of self-discipline to do all that was before me. Now, with those tasks completed, I want to use that new measure of discipline for myself. I have a lengthy to-do list in my mind. But God has a different agenda for me. He is the one who has helped me to grow in these areas, and He has a plan to make use of that. I shouldn’t want it any other way.
This week, the Holy Spirit has shined His light in some of the darker places of my heart. This problem of selfishness kept popping up as I was trying to go about my business. Humans are born selfish creatures, but I thought that after so many years of following Christ I had learned to live for Him instead of myself. The positive side to this convicting work of the Holy Spirit is that I know God is still with me. He is working on my heart and leading me in the way I should go, even if I am resistant. And, in the midst of seeing how self-centered I have become, I also saw that it wasn’t too late for a friendship that I should have followed through on a year ago. God is so good to me.