Monday, February 27, 2006

Desperate HouseLives: Single (Again!) Lost In Loneliness

From which television show does each of these quotes come?

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got”

“I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour”

“Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind”

Everybody desperately wants a place to belong; a place to believe and a place to become.

"Remember, no man is a failure who has friends"

Desperate Housewives is no different. The sad part is the quest to dull the pain of loneliness with surficial relationships that lack real commitment. This is nothing new; just this past week MacLean’s magazine had an article on the very subject.

“It’s gone to the opposite extreme where now being married makes you the loser, makes you the boring woman at the dinner table” is the article title and it’s an interview with Jillian Strauss, author of the book The Unhooked Generation.

“A lot of the favorite TV shows of my generation, Desperate Housewives, Friends, Sex In The City, not only do they make the single life very sexy, they also make marriage and family life look boring and miserable and…desperate.”

“Marriage is disposable” is a dominant theme as seen from celebrity marriages.

“It’s very difficult to say, ‘I want an intimate relationship.’”

“What I found was that some people found the idea of casual sex, of hooking up, liberating in the beginning, but over time, both the men and the woman I talked to found that it had lost it’s luster.”

“Listen, I’ve done the casual sex thing. I’m over it. I want to get to know someone.” Jillian Strauss

Strauss goes on to talk about our obsession with consumerism and need for instant gratification. We want to avoid suffering: “I shouldn’t have to feel any pain or suffering.”

Says Strauss: “Stop expecting to instantly meet your soul mate and know in five minutes whether or not you are going to spend the rest of your life together.” “Drop your checklist.”

“I saw the things I was doing wrong and that I didn’t know I was doing wrong. It’s a lot easier to see in someone else.”

Obviously Strauss has discovered a reflective cycle that is helping her become aware of issues and then taking the steps to rectify the patterns involved.

Solemate vs. soulmate

“I’d rather be single wanting to be married than married and wanting to be single.”

Reminds me of the tortured existence that Leo Tolstoy lived. Author of what many consider the greatest literary work in War and Peace, he sought after God’s kingdom and peace on earth but certainly never experienced it in his marriage.

William Shirer, a chronicler of Tolstoy’s life put it this way, “Day after day, year after year, they put down their innermost and increasingly bitter thoughts about the other. And for years they left what they wrote for the other to read – it was a perverse form of communication between them.”

If I'm Waiting on God, Then What Am I Doing in a Christian Chatroom? by Kerri Pomarolli

In a chapter called “Finding Mr. ‘H’ (Mr. Hottie)", Pomarolli writes “I see now I’ve built up some bad habits from my past relationships that are hard to break: Right from the start Mr. H. and I spent all our time together so we were completely attached and subjective. We didn’t allow anything to grow naturally; we just jumped on the emotional roller coaster and stayed there. The highs were exhilaratingly high and the lows made me want to throw up!”

We also have to face up to the fact we all have these tapes playing in our heads, “What if this doesn’t work out? What if we aren’t compatible? What if I hurt his feelings and lead him on? Or vice versa?” This kind of thinking should not be occupying a lot of time in our heads. I think the only weapon for me here to fight my female anxiety is prayer. We have to keep putting our trust in God.

Sounds remarkably close to what Jillian Strauss was speaking of.

Pomarelli gets to the thrust of the issue: giving control of our loneliness over to God.

"There is the voice that everybody hears that is your parents' voice, your professor's [voice], it's the world's voice saying to you, "you should do this, you should be this, you ought to, you got to." And then there is the still small voice—for some people it's not so small—inside of every human being that calls you to something that is greater than yourself." Oprah

Oprah helps us see the real heart cry of loneliness. We are called to embrace God’s grace and embrace others, too. We must move past the ‘me’!

We all have a need to be intimately known in a safe relationship and family or community. It’s a part of the image of God that’s been put inside of us.

A young girl is afraid to sleep alone. Her mother says to her, ‘you’re never alone dear. God is with you.’ The little girl responds, “well then why don’t I sleep with daddy and you can sleep here with God.”

We want God and His grace with flesh! It’s inherent in our being to desire to be with others.

“Christ did not die just to save us from our sins, but to bring us together into community. After coming to Christ, our next step is to be involved in community. A church that does not experience community is a parody, a sham.

But the church in the West is being overtaken by individualism, which entails increased material pursuits, so you can afford to be self-sufficient. Strong anti-community forces are at work. Family life is practically non-existent as we are pulled away in different directions.” Gilbert Bilezikian

The situation is desperate!

Larry Crabb: Many people go through their entire lives never feeling safe in any relationship. And that's a violation of the gospel. I would suspect that the issues that are most intense within people never come up in small groups. Therefore, the issues that are strongest in my soul are never dealt with in the presence of other Christians because there's an absence of safety.

We need to examine the passions that are ruling within us as we engage each other. Is there really the passion of one upsmanship? Or looking for something witty to say? Or of playing it safe so that nobody could possibly reject me?

Mother Theresa said, “Loneliness is the disease of our time.”

In your loneliness you say strange things to yourself. “I must be unlovable. I need to change my appearance.”

There are things about 15 that you would love to go back and experience but there are things about 15 that heaven help me I would never in my wildest imagination want to go back and experience because I remember feeling that way. And the one thing I can give them is that one day you will be 30 and maybe have tasted a little bit just like I have tasted a little bit of what it feels like to know that God gave His only son to die on a cross for me and He loves me and He doesn’t make mistakes, and so He didn’t make a mistake when He made me.

So when I am ridden with whatever about my hips, or my upper arms, or my eyes aren’t big enough, or my lips aren’t full enough. Holy Crap! God did not make a mistake when He made me; now that doesn’t mean go eat 150 chocolate pies. Take care of yourself, be a good steward of your body. But you know what He loves you, He died for you, and He created you in His image. Plumb

God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. C. S. Lewis

Give control of your loneliness over to God. This isn’t just an intellectual exercise, though. It’s gut wrenching!

The story of Naomi and Ruth in the book of Ruth is very illuminating in light of loneliness. Naomi and Ruth are the biblical poster girls for “Desperate Housewives”.

Let’s look and see how they deal with life’s relational setbacks.

Naomi’s husband dies. Here’s a widower living with her two sons. And then they die and all she has left is her daughter in laws. All the while she’s an immigrant in another country. Sounds pretty desperate to me.

Look at how Ruth validated Naomi by staying with her. Look at how Naomi supported Ruth in the new situation.

Look at the honest, raw emotions expresses by Naomi.

Ruth 1:9
“they all broke down and wept.”

Ruth 1:13
Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD himself has caused me to suffer."

Ruth 1:14
And again they wept together.

Ruth 1:16-17
But Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. I will die where you die and will be buried there. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!"

Reminds me of something Jesus promised,

Matthew 28:20
“…Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Ruth 1:20-21
"Don't call me Naomi (it means pleasant)," she told them. "Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty. Why should you call me Naomi when the LORD has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy?"

Ruth helped Naomi move from hostility through her hospitality. Wholeness came. This was due in part to the emotional support provided.

Even though Naomi was hurting inside her first idea was release Ruth & Orpah to move on with their lives. Naomi wasn’t an emotional infant. She had realized the need to give to others in order to grow.

Where are you in your own emotional development? Picture a recent relational problem and let God speak to you as you read on.

Emotional Infant. Like a physical infant, I look to other people to take care of me more than I look to care for them. I often have difficulty in describing and experiencing my feelings in healthy ways and rarely enter the emotional world of other. I am consistently driven by a need for instant gratification, often using others as objects to meet my needs, and am unaware of how my behavior is effecting/hurting them. People sometimes perceive me as inconsiderate, insensitive, and self-centered.

Emotional Child. Like a physical child, when life’s going my way and I am receiving all the things I want and need, I am content and seem emotionally well adjusted. However, as soon as disappointment, stress, tragedy, or anger enter the picture, I quickly unravel inside. I interpret disagreements as a personal offense and am easily hurt by others. When I don't get my way, I often complain, throw an emotional tantrum, withdraw, manipulate, drag my feet, become sarcastic, or take revenge. I have difficulty calmly discussing with others what I want and expect from them in a mature loving way.

Emotional adolescent. Like a physical adolescent, I know the right ways I should behave in order to “fit in” mature, adult society. I can feel threatened and alarmed inside when I am offered constructive criticism, quickly becoming defensive. I subconsciously keep records on the love I give out, so I can ask for something in return at a later time. When I am in conflict, I might admit some fault in the matter, but I will insist on demonstrating the guilt of the other party, proving they are more to blame. Because of my commitment to self-survival, I have trouble really listening to another person's pain, disappointments, or needs without becoming preoccupied with myself.

Emotional adult. I can respect and love others without having to change them or becoming critical and judgmental. I don't expect anyone to be perfect in meeting my relational needs, whether it is my spouse, parents, friends, boss, or pastor. I love and appreciate people for who they are as whole individuals, the good and the bad, and not for what they can give me or how they behave. I take responsibility for my own thoughts, feelings, goals, and actions, when under stress; I don't fall into a victim mentality or a blame game. I can state my own beliefs and values to those who disagree with me – without becoming adversarial. I am able to accurately self-assess my limits, strengths, and weaknesses and freely discuss them with others. Deeply in tune with my own emotions and feelings, I can move into the emotional worlds or others, meeting them at the place of their feelings, needs, and concerns. I am deeply convinced that I am absolutely loved by Christ, that I have nothing to prove.

Psalm 139:7-10
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

“Grieving the death of a close friend and my husband asking for a divorce within a week of one another…the reality was that I was going to be a single mom, going back to work to support myself and Ella, living with the pain, the guilt, the shame. Moving cross-country. Finding a job. Finding a place to live. Finding day care. Letting go of my daughter so that another woman may care for her. Broken heart. Broken dreams. I prayed and I prayed. Night and day. Silently. Out loud…I haven’t told anyone at ___ how instrumental they’ve been to me in recovering from my divorce and grief of my loss…but I am grateful to each and every one of you.”

Romans 12:10-18
"Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody. Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody"

At the end of the book of Ruth we have Ruth marrying and having a son. Her new husband is an old family frend of Naomi, perhaps more her age but nonetheless Naomi helps arrange the marriage instead for Ruth.

Oh yeah, and it turns out Ruth's child becomes part of the lineage leading to King David and ultimately Jesus.

I don't know where your loneliness will lead. But with God on your side it can be redeemed for a better day. And a better way.


Blogger Strawbari Gurl said...

Well, this is the first entry my search led me to.

"I don't know where your loneliness will lead. But with God on your side it can be redeemed for a better day. And a better way." Thank you for this. It's thoughts like this that keep me going.

10:41 AM  

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