This last weekend I borrowed a buddies truck and went down to my parent’s town to pick up some various items from my Grandmothers house that had just sold. Things like a bookshelf, patio furniture and oddly enough Christmas dishes (some things really do change when you get married – Christmas dishes?).
At any rate, it’s about a 3 hour drive and since I didn’t have my ipod, I grabbed a few random old cds. As I slid one of them in and the music came on, I just smiled. It was a cd that a friend and I had made in a studio just over 10 years ago.
Now I wrote all kinds of songs but most fell into one of two categories. The first was worship type songs – I mean I’m a Christian right? But the second, was songs about the hurt I had in the dating world.
This cd was no different. But it was the third song that made me famous among my friends. It’s a great song. It really is. It’s so full of emotion. I wrote it in my basement at age 23, literally in under 10 minutes. I had just been told by another female that she just saw me as a friend. To be honest it wasn’t really about her, it was about the whole damn thing.
The last lines go like this:
Outside, looking in/ You’re using that excuse that you’ve used again and again and again/ It may be your loss, but it sure as hell ain’t my win/ It seems I’ve been caught, following my heart once again.
As I listened I had a range of emotions. In a way it is so long ago. That song is almost 20 years old. And yet there is so much of my story there. When it came to dating and marriage, I really was outside looking in.
There is anger in the song but anger it too simple a word to describe what I felt for really 15 years of my life. A better word is anguish.
Here’s your google definition – Anguish – Severe mental or physical pain or suffering.
Yeah, that about sums it up.
Now there were all sorts of parts to my story and why I felt that. I was not good with the ladies and I knew it. I also had come to know Jesus at the end of high school, so now I needed to date not only someone where there was attraction, but also who knew Jesus. So as I left college, I was now looking for the one.
To be honest, as I got older, the anguish got worse, not better. As I hit my late 20’s doing ministry in a college town, I was surrounded by great women who liked Jesus -none of whom I could date (or at least that is what I thought then). Toss in some religion and self righteousness and I was in trouble. To be honest, I just shut it down.
Then I moved to St. Louis and all of a sudden, there were options. But the problem was, now I was screwed up. I was a complete mess in this area of my life. It was like somehow my awkwardness had grown. All of this was exasperated by religious platitudes about how God just hadn’t sent me the person yet.
I share this because the anguish of many singles (especially in the Church) is completely underestimated and un-dealt with. There are a lot of really hurting people.
Not everyone who is single wants to or should be married. Some are called to celibacy for the kingdom. But most are not and frankly it hurts. And as you get older it raises a lot of questions.
The Church needs to deal with this by loving these people well. We need people who step into our lives for real, not just with passing judgement and advice. If we are going to face our anguish and get free of it that probably won’t happen alone.
But we as single people must actually face it. We have to because if we don’t it will grow. Anguish doesn’t get smaller. You can disguise it, funnel it into work/ministry as I mostly did, or even just try to kill it. But if we don’t deal with it and the wounds that both caused it, and come from it, we are screwed.
For me it came crashing down as I began to see that I was broken. A woman I had pursued told me that she wanted to like me but didn’t.
I knew stuff was off. All the things that I thought were holding me back, actually weren’t. I had completely lost my way in this area of my life. I remember thinking over and over again, “No!, No, No, No. This isn’t right.”
All of it kind of came to a head and instead of going home, I sat in my office all night. I literally sat on the floor and cried. The anguish was real. I told God, “just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.”
I was 35 and I was lost in this one. I sought counsel and God provided. People stepped up, mentors fought for me and frankly I had to do some hard work. It was humbling. It was awesome. God changed me.
As I listened to “Outside Looking In” I smiled. It’s a great song! But I’m glad I’m not there now.
If you are in anguish may God step into your hurt. May you one day be free from it.
Here’s the song Outside Looking In