Quit Beating Yourself Up

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?

How Satan Attacks Singles

In my mid 20s the words I suck would run through my head when something went wrong.  I would literally say the words “I suck!”  Whether this was because of work, play, or relationships it was there.  I was agreeing with the enemy.

Last week I asked us to consider that the enemy cares about our singleness.  Now we are no more or less under attack than a married person, but just like a lot of things it plays out in certain ways within our particular context.  So today I want to talk a little about what that looks like and how to see it.

The first place we can see spiritual attack is against our identity.

It’s important to distinguish between voices here.  Remember we can hear from God, our flesh, and from the enemy.  For example when we do something wrong, God speaks in a convicting way – it’s direct and at the wrong action.  Our flesh usually focusses on guilt. The enemy focusses on condemnation – in other words – he comes at our identity.

This is where my “I suck” stuff came in.  Now what happens is that the enemy throws us the thought and then we begin to agree with it.  This is one way we can let the enemy have a foothold.  Once we agree with it then he can run with it.  Condemnation does not come from God.  God is not saying, “You Suck”, “You’re Worthless,” “You’re ugly,” “You’re stupid”, “You’ve messed it all up, there’s not hope”, “You’re disqualified.

If these are not from God then we need to disagree with them.  If we don’t they severely affect how we view ourselves and they can become the identity we live out of.  This is not good because our identity should be in Jesus.  Hence “spiritual battle”.  Knowing the truth doesn’t mean much if we are going to live out of the lies.

This is critical as a single person because in our context we are often our own mirror.  It’s why it’s important to have people in your life who can also be a mirror.  The more free I am from this, the more I’m free to discern my calling, love others, and frankly the more free I am to pursue or be pursued by someone.

Here are some other places the enemy will attack.

He will try to get you to agree with things about God.  “God is holding out on you,” “If God loved you he’d send you someone,” “God doesn’t care that you don’t have a spouse,” “It’s all God’s fault,” and so on.  Anything that can drive a wedge between you and God, the enemy will try to exploit it.  And you’d better believe he will exploit our singleness.

He will plant thoughts about other people as well.  “She would never like me,” “He’s married now so he’s probably too busy,” “They just don’t understand,” “You’re All Alone”.

The enemy also attacks our sexuality.  The temptation level is high to begin with because of our own sin and fleshly desires.  But you can bet that the enemy wants to turn this up.  This can come in the form of straight up temptation to sex or other sexual outlets – i.e. porn, strip club etc.  But he can also steal our sexuality.  We can be led to kill our desire or try to cover it.

Another big battle is over who you date.  Think about this.  A person decides to follow Jesus.  The enemy is pissed and has already lost the major battle.  Now If I’m him, what is my strategy?  How about having them date, or better yet, marry someone that pulls them away from following Jesus.  Satan knows the next closest thing to a relationship with God is a relationship with another person.  The enemy is not stupid.  Who you date, or if you date, matters and he knows it.

How about fear?  Fear of commitment, fear of choosing wrong, fear of being alone, fear of failing at a relationship, fear of intimacy.  The fear list could go forever.  Fear is never from God.

These are just a few examples.  Look, I’m not saying there is a demon behind every rock, trying to mess with your single life.  But what I am saying is that we are in a war and just like any war there are tendencies that the enemy has and our flesh just plays right into it.  We need to fight back.

If there really is a spiritual battle then you’d better believe part of that battle is over how you view yourself, God and others, over your sexuality, and over who you date or marry or for that matter whether you date or marry.

Looking at your singleness – where do you see the battle?  What lies have you believed?

Satan Cares About Your Singleness

You’re not good looking enough.  There is no one for you.  You can’t get the one you want. You’re too fat (insert tall, skinny, short, etc).  No one cares.  Your church doesn’t care. You’re alone.  It’s all your fault.  You’ve already messed it up – God isn’t going to send you someone.  It doesn’t matter anyway go ahead and. . . .

Have you ever heard any of these in your head?  Ever wonder where they come from? What’s interesting is I’ve had a lot of these thoughts (and a host of others) at one time or another and yet that’s the only place I’ve heard them.  For example as I’ve mentioned before, I thought part of the reason I couldn’t succeed with women was that I wasn’t good enough looking – but a funny thing – no woman has ever actually told me that.

So where do all these thoughts come from?

There’s whole lot to consider here but we need to step back and get a look.

First off we are wounded in life.  Stuff happens.  We sin and others sin against us.  This starts pretty much the day we are born.  And guess what – it affects the way we think about ourselves.  This starts with our parents and the messages we receive from them and it just keeps going.  We receive a message and then there is an interpretation of that message.

Here’s an example.  When I was in third grade I got picked on by some sixth graders. They threatened me on the way home from school.  For the first time in my life as a kid, I was scared of injury from another person.  I can still see that kids fist in my face.

That’s one event.   But in my third grade mind I was now weak.  Once you have an interpretation other events begin to get interpreted the same way.  In fifth grade a peer straight up punched me in the face as hard as he could.  Now I didn’t even fall, but I didn’t fight back.  What’s interesting is that I could have thought, “I just took that kids best punch and I’m not hurt – I’m tough.” Instead, I took it as another confirmation that I was weak.

When we get wounded is we interpret it somehow.  And friends there is a freaking battle over that interpretation.  

There are three voices that come at us. The voice of God, our own voice, and the voice of the enemy – the demonic. Yup, you read that right.  There’s a spiritual war.  At least that’s what the Bible says.  Jesus talks about it, Paul talks about it, and Peter talks about it.  So if these guys are talking about it, seems like it might be real.

Now we in the western church like to say it’s real but then we live like it’s not.  Which is fairly stupid.  Sure once in a while we read a story or a book (hello C.S. Lewis and Screwtape – geesh even Lewis is talking about it, and if he says it’s real. . . ).  Now and then we mention it in a sermon.  But that’s about it for the most part.  It’s like “hey you’re in this war but don’t worry about it.”

We live our life like there are only two people on the stage – us and God.  This is not a good idea, and it’s not Biblical.  

At any rate, when a wounding event happens, the enemy wants to use it.  Now so too does God of course.  But the key is, who am I going to agree with?  When we agree with the enemy we give them power (a foothold if you will) and they can run with it.

This is why Paul says to take every thought captive.  Where is it coming from?  Own it.

What does this have to do with singleness?

Well it isn’t a singleness problem per se.  It’s an everybody problem.  But we are part of everybody and one of our contexts is singleness.  So if I’m the enemy and I know that you are single, and all that goes with that, I’m pretty sure I’m using it (in the same way if you are married I’m using that and all that goes with it).

Let’s assume the demonic are real. Think they might care who you date, what you do on a date or who or if you get married?  If you are called to singleness do you think they might want to mess with that?  Do you think they might want to use it against your relationship with God?

I’ll talk more about this – but for today I want to ask you this question.  Have you ever actually considered that the enemy cares about your singleness?

Paul says we fight a battle against flesh, the world, and the enemy.  We don’t get to leave any of those out.