Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Grass is Always Greener

Whatever your state, it is easy to fall into the mentality that "The grass is always greener on the other side." I tend to focus at times on the negative aspects of being single instead of remembering the good aspects. Loneliness and a lack of focus can tend to get me down at times. I was thinking the other morning of advantages and goals that I as a single girl should be more focused on and striving toward. This is not a list that is all-inclusive or absolutely applied to everyone, but something that I was thinking about and decided to get on paper.

1. Serve God. 1 Corinthians 7:34 says ". . . 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. . . " I don't know if Paul thought so highly of Christian singles that he couldn't imagine an unmarried person in any other state, but notice that this verse doesn't say that she "should be concerned about the Lord's affairs" but that she "is". There are doubtless many things that the single people can do in the church to build up the church or to simply take a task that would otherwise of necessity be done by someone who needs to spend time with their children or spouse. Wisdom should still be exercised in choosing what to get involved in and boundaries must exist in a person's life so they can say no to things that they should not get involved in. But a focus on devotion to God in what they do should be a big part of a Christian single person's life.

2. "Train yourself to be godly 1 Tim 4:7b." While there is a danger in a person making the Christian life into rules rather than relationship, that doesn't mean that a person should not strive to grow more Christlike. In order to become something that your not, there are steps that are taken. If you want to become an engineer (like I did), while in high school, you must do that math lesson regularly, then you must go to a college and study being faithful in the little things such as homework, then you must get a job. These are actual steps that take you from being a kid in school to an engineer. Similarly, to become more like Christ, there are steps a person can take which will get them in a position to change. These steps are not just for the single person, but due to the fewer demands on a single they are much more easily implemented when a person has time to spare. I also think that many of these things are habits that will be easier to do if a person is married if the person has already taken the time and effort to make these things a habit. There are many things that can train you to be godly, but I want to highlight just a few of them: read and study the Bible, memorize and meditate on scripture, and pray. These things take time and are more useful in a person's life if they are done consistently. Doing these things doesn't make God approve of or love you more. He sees you through the lens of what Christ has already done. But, these things will help you change. Our desire should be to change and grow more like Christ. Reading and studying the Bible will make you understand God's character and his desires better. Memorizing and meditating on scripture will help you to dwell on things that are good, right and true. Your mind will be so full of that stuff that when you fall asleep or wake up you will be thinking about Bible verses or aspects of God's character. Praying can be come a habitual response to anything that goes on in your life, and turning things over to God is the best first response to events.

3. Give money away. A single person will likely be able to live less expensively than those who are married with kids. We can live with family or have roommates to offset costs or simply live in a small apartment since we don't need extra space. Though saving money is also a good thing, I have found it fun to give. Giving is another way that you can serve your church or missionaries.

4. Save money. If you're single, now is the time to save before all the expenses of a family are upon you, or if that never happens, save now so that you will have the ability to get through tough times if you loose a job or have health problems. Saving a little for a long time will be much easier than trying to save a lot later on. Compound interest is amazing on paper and as I'm saving, I'm seeing that it works in real life too. We don't know what the future holds and should not get our focus off of God's provision and think that we can handle things ourselves. But if God has given you a good job, don't spend everything now. Read proverbs and other biblical passages about money and you'll see that saving money is definitely not against Bible principals.

5. Exercise. 1 Timothy 4:8 says "For physical training is of some value but godliness has value for all things. . . " So although godliness has value for all things, this verse does show that physical training is of some value. Our bodies are temples of the holy spirit and should not be mistreated. Beyond that there are other reasons to keep physically fit that range from the fun (being able to participate fully on outdoor games and sports) to the spiritual (being able to be a part of a mission trip to a hard area of the world). We don't know what our future holds. Taking 30 to 45 minutes each day to keep our bodies active will keep us from limiting our future based on things we can't physically do.

6. Develop friendships. Learning from books is good, but learning from and being able to talk to a friend about a specific situation is invaluable. If there are people whose lives you admire or wish to be more like, get to know them. Their wisdom will be important especially if they are a little older than you. Observe people around you and their families. You can learn a lot just by watching how people interact.

7. Live close to your family. This is not a necessity, but it sure helps. It's nice to be able to drop in and see them once a week. It's much easier to be somewhat caught up on their lives if you live nearby. Another nice thing about living near your family is that if you have car problems or need someone to pick you up from an airport, they are usually more than happy to help. You will also save money because you won't have to travel a long distance to visit them on holidays.

These are things that I need to at times remind myself of and I'm sure there are many more that could be added. None of these things is terribly exciting or revolutionary, but it seems like the boring daily choices are the ones that really make the difference in the end.


Elijah Lofgren said...

Thanks for posting this list! I like how you put pictures along with it. I've linked to it on my blog.

Have a great day,


Luke said...

I wanted to add #8 to your list:

"Watch older brother's kids so he and his wife can go on getaways"

but I can't find a verse to back it up... :)

Love you! We appreciate your service to our family!


Maria said...

I have to admit (sorry to the rest of you) I often check Miriam's blog first since she updates more often than Luke and Michele (at least recently:)and well, I grew up with her. I grew up with the rest of you all too but it's more like I watched you grow up.

I love reading all of you though. Ron will ask me "Did you see such and such news story?" and often I am like "no but Miriam said this and Anna said that and (etc)"

Miriam, the grass is just about always seeming greener but like you say, we're supposed to learn "to be content in every and any situation." Sometimes (not often, how can I say that since I have kids, it's like saying I wish they didn't exist and I wouldn't do that!) I wish I had your can exercise (alone!) everday, you rarely miss church (due to a sick child) etc etc.

But like you pointed out, you DO have so much more time to get close to God. I am trying but it's so (like right now, had to go and rescue a thing of floss, Sara was just pulling it and pulling it out ALL over and now she's pouting in her room all mad/upset.)

Anyways, I am glad you can see the good parts and I should look for more good parts in my life.

I love all of you, I just read Miriam first due to age. You're all my favorites and I read all daily.

I better go after my pouting daughter.


Anonymous said...

Nice article. Thinking about your point of being close to family, I am thinking that it is significant that the Lord has me at home for a while until I get a new job. Time with family is precious indeed, especially as you grow older.

In terms of giving, the Lord showed me how I wasn't giving enough to church about a year ago.
When I increased my giving. I automatically felt that the Lord drew me closer to the church.
There is indeed something about giving that builds us up as believers in Christ.


Anna Naomi said...

Great post, Miriam! We love having you near us!

I've always looked up to you so much - you're such an example to me on how to use time wisely while still single. Thank you for being such a wonderful older sister!

Miriam said...

Thanks for the comments. This was written as much to me as it was advice for others. It's great to have a family that is interested in each other's lives (even when their sister is really kinda boring at times).

Elijah Lofgren said...

> (even when their sister is really kinda boring at times).

I don't think boring is a word I would ever use to describe my sister Miriam! :)

Anonymous said...

I have no idea how I found this site, but this is an encouragement. I appreciate the honesty and soul-bearing you write with. I also appreciate that you distinguish between wht makes God happy (Christ) and what we need to do for growth. Where do you go to church? Most churches don't seem to understand this.

I would also add for the list of discipleship/growth that reading the Bible may be good, but keep in mind, they didn't have Bibles (or often even more than 1 letter from Paul) for hundreds of years after Christ rose, and even then most people could not read before 1400AD. Thus community and people with whom you can share your sins, troubles, fears etc. are essential. In the early church, people "met daily"

Today, we have lost the sense of true community and replaced it with superficial relationships, mega-churches, and fast-paced everything. AA, Celebrate recovery and a few other very real "small groups" are about the only place we get this right. Before AA, alcoholics and other addicts were deemed "unredeamable" by the church (at least in their behavior and earthy lives). Even the apostles did most everything in at least groups of two. We need to get that community back -- the superficial church is really no church at all.

Sean D.