One night a couple of years ago I began to have severe pain in my abdominal area. At first it was small, but as the night wore on it got worse. I remember being at the gas station and barely being able to get out of my car. I went home and went to bed. I was breaking into chills and sweat. As I laid there I began to think of the possibilities. Could it be my appendix? An ulcer? Worse? Was it food poisoning? I thought about what I ate that day and self diagnosed that indeed that Ranch dressing and salad was the culprit.
I stuck it out and the next day felt a little better. But I was still hurting some. I took it easy, went to the bathroom about 10 times and by the next day I was practically normal. Looking back I think about how stupid this was. What if it would have been my appendix? At what point would I have self diagnosed that? At what point would I have called for help? The funniest thing is I actually know doctors. It’s not like I even had to start with the hospital. It could have been disastrous. If I’d gone down that night in my house who would have known.
It’s one of the perils of being single. 28% of Americans live alone. That means that somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of singles live by themselves. This can be bad for practical reasons as I’ve written about here. There really is a safety factor. What if you fall or pass out etc.? What if I had self diagnosed wrong? Who would know? On top of this many of us work alone, or at least without a big office? How long would it take for someone to know you’re missing in action?
But the safety factor pales in comparison to two others.
The reality is it’s pretty easy to get isolated. Now I don’t mean that you don’t see or work with other people. Of course we communicate and live in the real world. But it is very easy to avoid real community and therefore end up without anyone speaking into our lives. As bad as self diagnosing a physical problem wrong could be, misdiagnosing our lives is worse – and we all do it.
All of us are deceived about our own story. We misdiagnose both our sin and our wounds.
We look at our sin as minor and we never know the impact it has on others. There is sin in our lives that never even sees the light of day because no one else is there to view it. We might literally not even know we are doing it. There is often no one to see it or call it out. There is no one to confess to. We desperately need this.
Maybe worse, we end up believing lies about ourselves that affect everything we are doing. If we only have our view of our story, we are in real trouble. Things that were never our fault end up being. We end up agreeing with ideas about our hurt that simply aren’t true. We can spend our whole time fighting against things like, “I’m ugly”, “I’m stupid”, “I suck” etc. It’s hard to see God’s view of us if we don’t have people in our lives who know our story and can speak into it.
In short we will take responsibility for stuff that isn’t our fault and brush off the stuff that is. Everyone does this, married and single, but as a single person we are more likely to face little or no resistance to it. And that is a problem. We can hide if we want to – and we often do.
Some of us are thinking food poisoning when we need to be thinking appendicitis. We need to reach out for some help. Even if we have tried before and gotten burned. We have to fight for community as a single person. There is no doubt that it is harder. Maybe not if you are 25 but as you hit 30-40 it is harder as a single. I’m not whining, that’s just reality. The Church culture is not set up for us. 28-40 is when all your crap hits the fan and you can not face that alone and win. You just can’t.
If you misdiagnose your life at 25 you have a chance. Do it at 35 and you’re screwed.
1 John 1:5-7 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
As a single we have to find this.
Who besides you has a view of your story? Who helps diagnose your life? Where are you being deceived?