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?
I think the issue is self concept, not anger at self. I don’t think the two are interchangeable. Being “mad” at yourself is a good thing because you are acknowledging that you need improvement. If I’m mad at myself for being a jerk to my incredible boyfriend, that anger motivates me to be better. If I have a poor self concept I just think I don’t deserve anyone. And no one wants to date that.
Yeah that is true. Maybe the difference is do I see the problem and correct it or do I keep beating myself up over the same stuff.
I just heard a TED talk by writer Elizabeth Gilbert which echoes some of the same points you made about the dangers that result from making yourself the center of activity. She’s referring to this in the context of an artist believing he or she is the source of all creativity and inspiration and consequently crumbling under that pressure to achieve or freezing up in writer’s block. But she ends by offering wisdom that perhaps unintentionally reflects a Christian worldview (and I love when God shows up in the most unexpected places!) She says, ” Maybe it doesn’t have to be so full of anguish if you never happened to believe in the first place that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source…” To apply this to your post, when we believe its all up to us to “achieve” a relationship, we set ourselves for more anguish and self destruction than required and in the process grow frozen in fear of doing something wrong. But we could see the process as a collaboration and say, “Hey, I showed up and did my part, now its up to the other players involved to do their part, but I will keep on doing what I know I should be doing because I want the record to show that I was there and doing my job.”
Sorry for the length. Its just rare that two spheres of similar info collide so suddenly! Thanks for keeping us thinking!
Great, great quote!
Interesting take. And it provides a little relief — knowing it’s not “all my fault.” Dating involves not only me and God. It involves the men I come across, and all the people in their lives that may affect how they act / respond to me. It gets out of my control very quickly, which I need to remind myself about. (Instead of immediately assuming it’s something I’ve done / said / am whenever I get rejected.)
One thing I find funny is how Christians also blame the Church a lot. If we’re single, we immediately say that our church doesn’t have a good singles group, it’s hard to meet people at church, etc. Since when is it the Church’s fault that we’re single? Since when is it the Church’s job to play matchmaker? Just something to chew on.
That’s true, definitely not their job to be matchmaker. Good point. It’s not their fault we are single at all actually. It would be good if they acknowledged the situation occasionally. 🙂
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