Looking Back: Episode 297

Looking Back: Episode 297

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Listen to this week's show!

Roundtable: What I Know Now

For those who are older and still single, it's sometimes hard to look both objectively at the past and hopefully toward the future. This week's panel of 40-something singles has a lot to say to their peers and younger friends about trusting God, waiting for marriage, maximizing singleness, and giving grace when they need it most. Listen in for wisdom, encouragement and only a few "I told you sos."

Culture: Crazy Busy

When asked how you're doing, do you ever answer, "I'm not busy at all!" We didn't think so. Most of us are running ragged with little margin, rest or rhythm. Getting to the important is nearly impossible when the urgent keeps knocking at our door. Pastor Kevin DeYoung sees this as a big problem, especially for Christians who are called to live life to the glory of God. In Crazy Busy, a book he claims to have written for himself, Kevin addresses the things that threaten to sap the strength out of us, and what we can do to change them. More than this, though, he has us look at our hearts to examine why we're so busy in the first place.

Inbox: Room in His Heart

She's being pursued by a great guy, but he's a widower. She's not sure what she thinks about that. Will she have to "compete" with his late wife? What if he's not over her yet? How can our listener know? What about her other fears regarding this potentially challenging relationship? Candice offers clarity.

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  • --I have never had a girlfriend or attempted dating, and I will be 30 soon. I have not yet been asked why I am still single, but if anyone had asked me, I would say, "Because I don't really care about being married." Although I went through a brief period when my lack of female companionship got me down, I have not truly cared enough to seek a wife. Even to this day, I have not signed up on a dating site or anything like that. I am facing things far worse than being a bachelor for life, which can actually be a good thing.

    My main fear is being unemployed for the rest of my life. Work has always been beyond my grasp, even little menial jobs and odd jobs. Although I have a college degree, I have not even been able to land a job in my career field. Being in my current situation, it is highly likely that I will never work again, and unless my life will end soon, this is a very serious problem. There are times when I wonder why God even bothered to create me, because as of now, I have no purpose being alive.

  • --Dreamer Guy,

    I, too, often feel horribly inadequate  when it comes to jobs. By the time I earned my bachelors, I'd pretty much mastered being a student (I'd been doing it for over 16 years, after all), but the work world I haven't been so good at. However, if your view is anything like mine, my guess is your perception may be colored by despair. If so, please don't let that thing have the last word. (I'm preaching to myself, here.) Please get whatever help it takes to gain a truer picture of your life.

    Sally Lloyd Jones, in her children's devotional Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, explains blessing this way: "When God promises to bless you, he is saying, 'I'm going to make you into everything I ever meant for you to be!'"

    God bless you, Dreamer Guy.

  • --Looking forward to listening to this one. It is often easy to feel that the older-single demographic is written-off.

    It is also easy to conclude that marriage is very unlikely, if only on the grounds that after decades of parayer and striving, the personal weaknesses that make marriage less likely - and less likely to be succesful - remain unresolved. Are tendencies to depression and anger less forgivable than more flagrant sins?

  • --Thank you for having the 40-something panel today! About time :-D! As a fellow never-married single 40-something who spent her 20's and 30's at two major mega churches with plenty of Christian singles, I can confidently attest that living in a city like Houston or Dallas or Chicago or region like Orange County with lots of Christian single-filled mega churches is a NO guarantee you will find your mate there. This is in reference to one or the panelists' comments that somehow if he chose to live in Houston and attended a mega church there, he might be married now. Maybe but maybe not. Somehow, in my city and church,  there are still lots of us never-married ones out there still single, both men and women. This is possibly due to people moving to and from the city as well as many of us long-timers for whom somehow the singles groups megachurch model has not resulted in a mate.. I sitll have hope though.

  • --Having listened... I wish I had known the following things when I was 26.

    (1) That Christianity is not a roadmap for life. God is less interested in what you do than in how and why you do it.

    (1a.) That God is not normally in the business of miraculous guidance when it comes to selecting a wife. Follow guidance if it is given, but do not stall for the lack of it. Seek wisdom (common sense) instead.

    (2) I need to be careful who I permit to speak into my life. While humility is good, it does not include ignoring principles that God has already laid down in your life. Yes.... I took some bad advice.

    (3) God will not always be "present".

    The period in which my attitude about marriage changed was at 41. That was the age at which my father  - as a widower - married my mother. For 20 years I had been telling myself that I had "time", because I wasn't yet that age. When I passed that milestone, I began to be more pessimistic.

    What it feels like now.... is like being on a perpetual fast while standing outside a bakery, smelling the good smells. It isn't a good place to be. Yet at the same time, I look at those around me going through (or have gone through) the courtship/marriage/family process and it looks weird, for want of a better word. The costs are far more tangible than the benefits. Then there is the necessity of dealing with the implications if lifelong singleness IS  God's plan for me. There is still that little voice wondering whether it is simply because I wasn't good enough, that I couldn't be trusted....

    Which leads to point (4) for the first paragraph.... There are some things that I will not know this side of heaven.

  • --On the subject of being busy.... If you consider yourself as one of your assetts, and your ability to function physically and mentally as important, it only makes sense to give the same attention to personal maintenance as it does to maintain any other assett or piece of machinery that is important to you.

    One issue is time. You will never "find" the time to do the things that you need to do. You must, intentionally, "make time. Whether you are maintaining your home, car, business equipment, or yourself, you need to plan for it.

    If you keep on putting off climbing that mountain, one day you will look up, find the mountain too high and your knees too stiff. The same goes for your mental and emotional abilities. If you want to keep your courage and resilience, you must make time to refill your tank. You can't simply keep drawing from it without putting back in. It's the same error as waiting until you are 6 stone overweight before starting a diet and exercise program. It is far easier to prevent damage than to repair it.

    That.... and it's far easier to maintain good habits if you don't get into bad ones earlier in life.

    I regularly spend money on "luxuries" , both in terms of activities and purchases. I write these down in the "Keep Peter Sane" account.... and having experienced serious Depression, I know that failure to make regular deposits in that particular "account", reduces my ability to earn, create and - yes - give, in many other areas.


  • --Dreamer Guy,

    Hello! I have to say that after reading your comment, I am concerned about you. I am a high school teacher and am trained to look for signs of emotional distress. Your comments about your "life end[ing] soon" and having "no purpose being alive" are troubling. To be totally honest, they read like a cry for help and so I felt compelled to write to you.

    I can't say that I know what you're going through. It must be really rough to be unemployed and feel like there is no way to get back out there. Some trials seem interminable, and sometimes it feels like God is silent during them. (Psalm 88 comes to mind.) I don't want to diminish your situation in any way. What you are going through is difficult. That being said, I want to encourage you to talk to someone. Whether it's a pastor at your church or a professional counselor, it may be wise for you to talk with someone locally and face-to-face who can help you make sense of things right now.

    There was a time when I was (quite seriously) depressed. During one conversation with a friend about it, she asked why I hadn't asked for help up to that point. I said it was because I felt guilty, like my feelings were blowing the situation out of proportion and that I thought I should be able to handle it on my own. In that season of my life I learned--and am still learning--about letting others bear my burdens (Gal. 6) and not feeling a sense of shame about being overwhelmed/depressed/sad. I was convinced that no one would understand me or that they would just write off my problems as if they weren't big enough to be taken seriously. I was wrong.

    Even though you may not feel it right now, you are precious in God's sight. Please consider seeing someone to talk to. I'm going to pray for you. :)

  • --Dreamer Guy,

    I'll pray for you too Dreamer Guy.  That sucks man I wish I knew what advice to give.

  • --We're sorry to hear of the struggles you're facing in your life.  We hope you will check your e-mail, as we are sending you a private response.  Blessings to you!

  • --I couldn't tell you why, but for as long as I can remember, I've always thought that I would get married in my late 20s (27-29). That may be the Holy Spirit cluing me in to reality, or it may just be me trying to act like my father. Regardless, with many, many friends married over the last couple years, the only thing that has kept it from getting hard is the fact that there hasn't been anybody who I wanted to date seriously but couldn't.

    That all changed very recently though when I met an amazing woman who not only is cute and Christian, but she also appeared to be quite Godly and absolutely knocked my socks off with our chemistry. Sadly, she was only briefly in town and lives 8 hours away.

    Basically, I'm shaken up by this sudden crush, and I don't know what to do.

  • --@GrinAndBarrett  Go for it! At least that is the advice I would have wanted someone to give my husband. We were more than 8 hours apart by plane. You never know. She may be as shaken as you are.

  • --Dreamer Guy, can you lift and move boxes? If so, then go get a job at a warehouse.There has to be something you can do, if you are an able bodied young man. But if you can't hold a menial job, do you have issues with getting out of bed and getting to work on time? Do you have a physiological issue with your brain? I am asking that not to be mean or insulting, but rather, I am wondering if there is a medical issue an MRI could detect. Have you been evaluated for a medical issue? If you can't show up at a warehouse to move boxes all day, then you might have a medical issue that causes depression? By the way, I'm just curious: what is your field in which you have a degree?

  • --When I listened to the panel discussing, “mourning” their past I had a couple thoughts.

    Last year, at the age of 29, I had a successful epilepsy surgery to correct intractable epilepsy (praise God!).  As I talked with a friend a few weeks post-surgery he reminded me of Philippians 3:13- 14.  Rather than suggesting I spend time, “mourning” what I did not get to do (finish college, etc.) in the previous ten years he encouraged me to do what Paul wrote.  I have kept that perspective, and I’ve found it very helpful.  Do I know Christ much more than I did eleven years ago?  Yes.  Can I consider that difficult ten year period of time as worth it despite it not unfolding as I had planned?  Yes.

    So then:

    1. Yes, we can, “mourn” missed opportunities.  And, I think it’s good to consider the other perspective one of the male panelists discussed as well.

    2.  Philippians 3:13-14 came to mind.  The Apostle Paul had many great accomplishments; but before becoming a Christian he persecuted Christians… Still, he “forgot” all those things in order that he might press on toward the goal for the prize… Above all else that is the, “…surpassing wealth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  We can learn from our experiences and, hopefully, grow from them.

    Philippians 3:7-14

    7 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”

  • --Peter wrote, "...There are some things that I will not know this side of heaven."

    I agree.  It reminded me of Romans 11:33 "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!"  I have found a lot of comfort in this reality, and in trusting God despite not knowing why some things happen or don't happen.

  • --Really enjoyed the round table, I too agree that we do need times of mourning missed opportunities or what could have been--or even what could have been but wasn't, regardless of our choices. I went thru that turning thirty this month. My life is not at all how I imagined it would be at this point in time, but what I've learned, how I've grown, how I've gotten to know God thru it all, that I would not trade for anything I'd imagined would happen. So yes, I do/did mourn my past decade and things I might have done differently, but I also look to my future and how I can better apply what I've learned now moving forward, and trust that God was at work in my last decade despite me. And trust that He's still at work in my life today.

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