Thursday, December 29, 2011

Single and lonely?

Single and lonely | Christian News on Christian Today

"For those with family, the holiday period can be a manic time offering few opportunities to sit down and take stock.

For Christian singles, however, it can be a distressing time that intensifies their feelings of loneliness, a season of reflection often ending in nostalgia.

Some reminisce about past relationships and feel guilty about mistakes they made. Many are uncomfortable being the only single person in their family. Others feel depressed because they have no one to celebrate with. Everyone has their own story.

For Tanya*, a 39-year-old nurse from London, this holiday has been particularly challenging. Her parents live in Cyprus and their relationship is complicated.

“I have depression anyway. It has hit me. It has accentuated everything, especially as I do not have family to spend Christmas this year. It has caused me to feel a lot more down,” she says.

“It is difficult being on my own, especially in my age. It is a lot harder for me.”

In a way, being together with other people over the holidays makes her feel pressured because “this is a time of family, love and togetherness”.

While others are desperate to get as many days off as they can over Christmas and New Year, Tanya actually requests to work.

“... [T]o put it out of my mind and work instead of sitting on my own at home,” she admits.

Occupational therapist Bethany, 33, believes that this time of “togetherness” is challenging for people who are alone.

“It is more in your face. And it makes me feel sorry for those who do not have anyone. It almost makes me cringe.”

Kimmy, a travelling occupational therapist and single mother from New York says the festive period does not affect her, especially because back home in her native US there are so many singles.

At the same time, the 35-year-old also recognises that one by one, many of her friends are getting married.

These days most of Bethany’s friends are in relationships too and she cannot help but feel a bit “isolated”.

In terms of this New Year’s Eve, Kimmy plans to watch the fireworks in central London. Picturing the midnight countdown, she admits to wishing she could share this experience with a partner.

Bethany and Tanya will celebrate New Year’s Eve together. For Tanya, the last thing she wants is to impose herself on friends who might feel they need to invite her.

“I do not want them to feel sorry for me. I do not like that feeling,” she emphasises.

Her Christian faith though has helped her to maintain a positive outlook on the future.

“God is going to sort it out”, she affirms. “I know He is going to provide me with someone.”

Bethany adds: “It is one area you cannot control. You cannot control when you meet someone.”

She admits that she would love to meet someone but refuses to lower her standards and settle for just anyone.

“The bottom line is if you are really strong in who you are in Christ, you will not worry about it. You will trust that God will provide you with the right partner when it is the appointed time.”

*last names have been omitted by request"

I spotted this article in Twitter - and I have two basic reactions to it - I feel sorry for these women in the first instance, that they are alone and that they find Christmas really hard, and secondly, what are they doing and what is the church doing to help these women out?

Note that this article is only about women who are single and alone, not about men. I know my fair share of men who are single, and although I can't speak for any of them, I bet some of them feel like this. God calls us to be in community, to be with someone, for life and it does become a struggle to be on your own in the end.

So what are the Church doing to deal with the singles and what are the singles doing to sort it out themselves. Are they spending time out and about with other singles, or with good friends who have good friends who are single? Does the church recognise that community is as important for single people as it is for families?

In my experience, a lot of the older single people in the church are teaching me how to be single, they are independent and they do love spending time with their friends and their church. They are not sad and alone. They don't resent people for feeling sorry for them, they understand that God has put them in a place where they can help each other to feel like a family.

Yes, God has the prefect partner for each one of us who believe and we have to get the fine balance between trusting Him and actually going out. I read a quote somewhere about Disney teaching girls that some day their prince will come - i.e. Cinderella's prince searched the kingdom high and low for her and they lived happily ever after. Looking at the rest of the story though Cinderella actually went to the ball, rather than sitting at home in front of the tv, blogging about being single... oh wait.

Ok, so I am not the perfect example of a Christian single, but I do try to spend time with my friends, with my church and with my Bible, but also making new friends and going on dates (shock horror) to see what works and what doesn't. I guess my profession allows me to meet a lot of new people on a regular basis, for which I am hugely grateful.

For those of you who are really struggling with this time of 'togetherness', it is hard, but at the time when the church celebrates, what are you doing to celebrate being single?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let me just say...

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the comments on Street Pastoring.

For me, when I have taken the time to reply to questions and opinions, I have prayed, I have considered and often found the answers coming to me. I hope that I have given a balanced view, but also a truthful Christian view.

I am always holding up my hand to say I don't know all of the answers, although it's taken a while for me to get to that point.

I hope that you will continue to read - the journey to here from some 7 (!) years ago when I started blogging has been cautious, frightening and fun, many things have happened and few haven't. I hope you can see the trust I have and that my life is truly in the hands of something greater than I will ever get to grips with.

Here's hoping that as I move out of home permanently and continue to work with young people in Billericay that I will enjoy 2012 and you continue to follow my misadventures!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Please can you get in touch again? Thank you.

Here's what you wrote

"And this is what is wrong with religion.

you should keep your religion to yourself, the arrogant view that people are better off with your religion (not any of the other hundreds of religions strangely) is disgusting.

i am atheist, does that make me less of a person than you? no. but in your eyes it does. its a horrible world view to have, and you shouldn't be actively approaching people effectively telling people this. keep your religion to yourself and keep it in your church.

however if i did bump into you in the street im sure i could pose some interesting questions and ideas to you."

Thank you for your opinion, in response to my post about Street Pastoring, it is always interesting to hear what others have to say.

I posed the question to facebook to see what I should do about your post, as I have many Christian and non-Christian friends. The opinions ranged from reply to delete, and one answer caught my eye...

"And this is what is wrong with atheism.

You should keep your atheism to yourself, the arrogant view that people are better off without religion (including any of the other hundreds of religions strangely) is disgusting.

I am Christian, does that make me less of a person than you? no. but in your eyes it does. its a horrible world view to have, and you shouldn't be actively approaching people effectively telling people this. keep your atheism to yourself.

however if i did bump into you in the street I'm sure i could pose some interesting questions and ideas to you."

Thank you for your opinion, because I would not have a story to tell about how I helped a few people on the way home after my work Christmas do, how I wished that I did have a Street Pastors hat and jacket on to help those who were in distress or lost, because before you posted it, all I could think about was getting home to bed, instead it inspired me to remove broken glass from the high street and speak to my friends about how best to respond. 

I feel that Jesus would probably ask if he could come to dinner at yours. 

Thank you for finding my blog and if you would like to talk to me, please get in contact.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


We're just 10 days away from the big day... so hears something for you to think about, this is some of what I said to the Uniformed Organisations and their parents tonight.

"All of these children have expectations on their lives. Harper is expected to be glamorous, well dressed and sophisticated, like her mum when she grows up and Charlie, he’s got his school and his new club hoping that his skill will carry him though the ranks to an England player. And Jesus? Like Harper Seven, before he was born a lot was written about him, but unlike Harper, those things were written hundreds of years before His birth. He was born with the world on His shoulders. Much like Harper Seven and Charlie, Jesus made headline news. We have sung about angels announcing his arrival to shepherds  in the fields, and what is more exciting than that? Like Charlie, He really did come out of nowhere and gained a whole lot of publicity in a very  short amount of time; for someone so young, he had a king after him and people from all walks of life bringing him presents.
Whatever you are expecting at this time of year, please don’t forget that the reason it all started was because one little baby was born, with the world watching on. Jesus was a very special baby. 

Jesus is dressed as Santa and the line is ‘Go on, ask him for something this Christmas’. Maybe there is something you can ask for, it might be one of those special things I asked about earlier.

Little Harper and Charlie won’t be able to help you with the bigger things this Christmas, maybe not with the smallest things either – Harper is not even a year old and Charlie, well, he’s just started school, but Jesus is the one we can go to for help.

I don’t know if you heard the lyrics of the John Lewis advert, they are really sad – ‘The luck I’ve had can make a good man turn bad, Please let me get what I want, Lord knows, it would be the first time’.  Sometimes life isn’t how we want it to be, but we can pray to Jesus to say thank you for what we get, sorry for the wrong things we do and please for things we need help or are struggling with and He will answer our prayers, often in ways that are unexpected. For a lot of your leaders – they have been praying for new leaders, and they got me this year, so I am an answer to prayer, but perhaps not the one they expected!

But what ever you ask for remember this year that Jesus is ’God with us’ and He was a very special gift that God could not wait to give to us."

There is a power point to go with it - if you haven't seen the John Lewis Advert, you can watch it here.

But the message is simple this Christmas, remember that God is with us, for all that has been and all that will be, with you and those you love. God loves you for the you of you, and whatever you are expecting or whatever is expected of you, don't forget the reason that we're celebrating.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Music and Words

I am a traditionalist when it comes to music... I don't like buying mp3 files very often, I much prefer a CD - ok so it's not vinyl, but keeping music electronically just doesn't sit right with me, plus my car has a CD player and we all know what radio connections are like, even in a tiny spcae like a car.

So recently I started listening to Lady Antebellum after hearing 'Just a kiss' at Jazzercise (of all places) and it is a really good album, if you want to buy 'Own the Night' I would recommend it. I buy popular music, there's not a lot of niche about what I listen to. I am a person who loves musicals, the charts and the old stuff... I think a lot of my friends are the same.

I do listen to Christian music though, a mix of live and music, they are songs that I often identify with strongly, they bring back memories of good times of worship and those of the lowest moments.

One of my bug bares about music though is the way in which words are sung. My dad always said that ABBA were the best singers in English because their intonation was impeccable and listening to some of the recent offerings from the music industry recently I can really see what he is on about - after all no-one sings 'Chiquitita' like Anni-Frid and Agnetha! (I can't even say the word properly!). I brought an album from Hillsong and there is on song that I really like on the album, but I really don't know the words, because they aren't sung clearly.

We are in an age when people need to hear the truth about God and often people will listen to the words of a song more often than not, so if those words are not clear, what is the message the Christian music industry is sending. It seems lazy to me, when words fall into one another and you can't make out clearly what is being sung without first looking online (or in my case on the information sleeve in the CD case!).

Here's hoping things change in the future, that song production never stops and the praises to God become clearer and louder!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Street Pastoring

The first time I heard about Street Pastoring, I thought that I ought to find my way on to a team at some point in my life.

When I started the Course in Christian Studies (CCS) I never thought that as part of it I would be working towards a second certificate in Evangelism and being recognised as an evangelist in the diocese. CCS is a two year long course that is a pre-requisite for other ministries, lay and ordained, in the diocese. Of course you can do it on it's own if you would like to!

So on Saturday morning, I found myself waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for 9.30pm to come round. Then I headed to Chelmsford to meet with the rest of the team that were volunteering over night. There are 6 people on every team, and team members volunteer once a month, 2 to pray whilst 4 others wrap up warm and head into Chelmsford. Before that we read a bible passage (Colossians 3) and prayed. This weekend was a special one for the Street Pastors, they were joined by the High Chief of Essex and the Mayor of Chelmsford. They were discovering what the Street Pastors do in the early part of the evening.

So we donned jackets, coats, hats, gloves and scarves, and I put on my special bright yellow observers jacket to make me stand out in a crowd. There were too many of us, so Hugh, the leader for the evening, split us into two teams and we wandered around, speaking to bouncers and managers, and the occasional person who recognised 'us'.

I did not realise how big Chelmsford is. when I used to go out at the weekend, we would stay in one area for the most part, so walking up past the bus station and down to Moulsham Street, becomes quite epic. I wish I was wearing a pedometer now, just to count the steps that I did. Chelmsford is a busy place as well. There are lots of young people around, and some older ones too. I was the youngest member of the team on Saturday, so I was unsure about how people would perceive me.

No-one stopped us to say that we were doing a bad job, or it was a bad idea that we were out on the streets, especially after the Brentwood Street Pastors were met with an angry reaction. People in the end came up to us to speak to us, I heard the words 'those are the street pastors, they give out flip-flops to girls' more often than not.

Half way through the night, we went back to the base for tea and toast. it was a good opportunity to sit down, rest the feet, fill up the tank and catch up on things we might have missed. We warmed up enough to feel really cold when we stepped back into town, and then it got interesting. We quickly gave out our first pair of flip-flops, our first gospel (Luke) and a few casualties of the night.

We spoke to the police about how their night had been, how they hadn't really been to busy and how we had picked up over 80 glass bottles (which I am told is unusually high). We finished the night with a conversation about the beginning of the world and handing out another gospel.

Walking back to the base for the final time, I found myself growing really tired, but a quick warm up and a prayer for those we had met changed all that.

I can not wait for Street Pastoring to come to Billericay. I think it will make a difference, like it has in Chelmsford, to the places that are busy and to those who are lost or unwell. if you are reading this and you are part of a church in Billericay, please get people to read this. Street Pastoring is so full of Jesus, his passion for the lost and love for those who don't know love.

It's serious work, but rewarding and wonderfully simple, just caring for people!