Relationships

Happy Valentine’s Day for the Singles – A Short TV Documentary On Singles I was On (While Single)

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It’s Valentine’s Day, and I know that there are some out there who absolutely cringe when this day comes along. Singles are often left feeling like they have something wrong with them because they aren’t with someone today. I thought today would be a good day to encourage the singles out there. A few years ago, I wrote a blog post on the subject of being single, which you can check out here: “Before Being Married.” And a number of years ago, while single, I was actually interviewed for a short TV documentary on being single. Check it out if you’re interested: .

When Someone Spat On Me

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I was walking on that sidewalk route as I had many times over the years while in elementary school in Toronto. It was a very cold winter day, and I had a pretty large winter jacket on. I think I might have been in grade 2 or 3, but I can’t say for sure. As I was walking, I noticed a group of people ahead of me – a few years older for sure since they were bigger. They saw me, and I could see that one person was adamant that they had something to do – so they broke from their group, jogged back to where I was, and without hesitation, spat on me – and then went back to their group.

There was no doubt in mind that day that I was spit on because I looked different than them – all the people in that group were a different ethnic background than I. Of course I’m brown, being a Canadian of East-Indian background. (This was during a time in Toronto, when, if you were brown, you were definitely a minority). Now while there were a number of great people who were of that group’s ethnic background in that neighbourhood during that time, these few had different ideas about people who looked different. Anyways, I thought there was not much I could do since they were bigger; so I went home, and told my parents, who were quite upset about what had happened. They of course cleaned my winter jacket.

This incident reminds me of the reality many of us face, whether we are young or old, that because we may look different, act different, or even have different ideas, people treat us with disrespect, and sometimes treat us just terribly. And if we’re honest, it doesn’t just happen on school playgrounds, but in college classrooms, corporate boardrooms, and in our family rooms. Some may “spit” on us with their looks, their words, and their actions. It may be your classmate, “friend,” teacher, boss, or even family member. How we react to these experiences is critical. I think in many ways my story about being spit on relates to issues on different levels, whether it is being bullied or just being marginalized by others. Here are some of my thoughts and reflections:

1) Never isolate yourself when getting mistreated. First off, talk to God about it because He cares for you and wants to help you. Second, someone trustworthy needs to be told, whether it’s a parent, spouse, friend, or authority. Some objective support and possible action with others may be quite important.

2) Never let the foolish words and actions of people dictate who you think you are. It’s easy to let the loudest voice be the one that’s heeded. Don’t let it happen to you. I know I’ve done it many times in my life. Seriously, are you going to let someone who’s either prideful about how great they are or someone who’s so insecure that they have to put down others, dictate your identity? They are quite unreliable.

This also relates to forgiveness. This may be the opposite of what we think we should do, but often when we withhold forgiveness, we become discouraged, depressed, and even bitter – notice I said “we.” Often the perpetrator is off doing their own thing and not caring about you. But when we forgive, we release that issue to God. It’s not that we forget – it may come back to our thoughts at times and make us angry – but it’s about forgiving as Christ forgives us. And then we are released from being “controlled” by bitterness and other negative feelings that those evil acts against us may cause in our hearts.

3) May I suggest you hear God’s voice even in the midst of the other loud voices.

Did you know God loves you? The Bible says, that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). No matter how far you think you’ve gone away from God, He loves you, He died for your sins, and wants to be in relationship with you. He’s waiting for you to come to Him and love Him in return.

Did you know you are wonderfully made? The author of Psalm 139:13-15 writes a revealing reality about us, in his adoration to God; here it is: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” God had you in mind even before you came out of your mother’s womb and “knit” you together so that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made”! God don’t make junk! You are a work of art, and the master artist is God Himself! And this God who made you has a great purpose for your life, which is found in relationship with Him.

I pray that the voice of God, which speaks the truth of who you are, be of much greater impact than the “spits” inflicted on us by others. Hear God’s voice through prayer and time in God’s Word, the Bible. All the best to you, and always a pleasure to hear from you!

Josh Samuel

An Intriguing Question to Ask Yourself When Considering Who to Marry

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There are many great questions to ask yourself related to your decision of who to marry. And there are many great issues to consider. However, it would be impossible for me to cover every good question and every important issue in this short post here. What I’d like to do is pose one intriguing question for you to ponder, particularly if you or someone you know is considering who to marry. I admit that I did not come up with this question myself. I read it somewhere, and though I don’t remember the author, it’s a question I never forgot. It’s a question to ask yourself, particularly if you have someone in mind.

So here’s the question: If you got married to this person, would you be okay if your potential children turned out exactly like this other person, and nothing like you? Think about it. Imagine your potential children being exactly like this person you are considering, and nothing like you. Are you okay with that? Does that thought frighten you? Perplex you? Make you worried? Why? Do you have serious concerns, or are they possibly trivial? Or does it put a smile on your face – knowing that it would be great if you had children like this person (even if they ended up nothing like you)?

I think this question is revealing because it gets to the heart of your real and honest evaluation of the person you are considering. I think it helps get past superficial issues, and on to the issue of your respect for the other person. If you respect this person you are considering, I think you would be happy if your children became like them. But if you don’t respect this person you are considering, I think you may be worried about your children being like them.

So often we can view people we are potentially interested in with “rose-colored glasses,” but questions like these help us make decisions with a more objective, and I think, wise approach. Don’t get me wrong, if you are hoping and waiting for the perfect person, you will not get married – there are no perfect people out there; we all just need to look in the mirror and realise that we are not perfect. However, I think that in any relationship, we need to at least respect the person we are involved with.

This month my wife and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary! Time flies. And no, we’re not perfect, but I can genuinely say that I’d be very happy if, God-willing, we have children and they were just like my wife!

All the best to you, and always a pleasure to hear from you!

Josh Samuel

Before Being Married – An article I wrote on the single life while single in 2005

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A picture of me getting ready just a few hours before my wedding!

Before I got married, I was often asked, “When are you getting married?” And for some people, the time it took for me to get married was too long. And before I go any further, I just want to say I’m thankful that I waited, because I’m grateful to God for the amazing woman of God He brought into my life – Joyce!

Nevertheless, one day while single a few years ago I decided to record the questions/comments/advice I received from others related to the issue of being single. I took out a notepad, and without letting anyone know, I began recording. By 3pm, I got around 15 unique remarks about me being single! I realised that others in my predicament may likely be going through similar experiences. And it may even drive some people to think they had a “problem.” It got me thinking, and I did some research, and a few opportunities opened up to share on this issue, from preaching, writing, and even a couple of moments on TV.

In this blog, I want to share one of the first opportunities I had to communicate on being single, to possibly encourage some singles and others to get what I think is a good perspective on the single life. The article I wrote was for a magazine called The Testimony, originally published in February 2005, and later posted on Christianity.ca also in 2005. It was entitled, “Single and Happy.” After reading, feel free to include your thoughts and comments on this issue whether you are single or married. Here’s that article published in 2005:

“SINGLE AND HAPPY”

I’m one of the 16 million people in Canada who are not married (Statistics Canada). It has been my observation, though, that singles are generally treated as if they have a disease, one that needs to be cured by a romantic partner. This message is in our music, on television, in the movies, and in the books we read. The question most often asked of singles is: Have you found someone yet?

Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth

Three single women in the Bible interest me — Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth. Naomi was an Israelite and mother-in-law to Orpah and Ruth, who were Moabites. Sadly, all three women experienced tragedies in their lives. Naomi lost a husband and ten years later she lost her two sons (who were married to Orpah and Ruth). They were left single and alone.

Naomi was living in the country of Moab because of a famine in Israel. She decided to return to Israel with Orpah and Ruth after the famine ended. Naomi’s advice to her daughters on the way back is insightful:

“Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband. Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me — even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons — would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you because the Lord’s hand has gone out against me” (Ruth 1:11-13).

Naomi was most concerned about the marital status of Orpah and Ruth and the repercussions that being single might have on their living conditions. Widows experienced greater challenges during those days, but the idea that marriage could cure their problems is something we still find today.

Myths of marriage

In Fit to be Tied, Bill and Lynn Hybels dispel four myths of marriage. The first is that it will end one’s loneliness. They admit that there are millions of lonely married people who might even be in an ideal marriage.

The second is that it will heal one’s brokenness. Some have become victims themselves, and others even victimize their own spouses as they seek healing that could never come from a human being. The psalmist rightly proclaimed of God that it is He who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

The third myth is that marriage will ensure one’s happiness. The Hybels’s comments are insightful here: “In most cases, an unhappy single person will be an unhappy married person” (33).

The last myth they discredit is that marriage is for everyone. Neither Jesus nor Paul was married, and both spoke of the advantage of being single in order to be involved in ministry to a greater degree (See Matthew 19:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7).

Three choices

Orpah decided to go back home where she might find a man to marry. That was her choice. Sadly, we never hear about her again.

Orpah is like many in society. She desperately wants someone to love, so she does whatever it takes to be married. Some Christians even end up marrying non-Christians because of this heart attitude, which leads them outside of God’s will (consider Genesis 2:24 that underscores the union in marriage with 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 that highlights the need for Christian fellowship in intimate relationships).

We can see something else in Naomi. She has become an embittered person — so much so that she wanted people to call her “Mara” which means “bitter” (Ruth 1:20). She even blames God, saying His hand is against her.

Blaming God is the second choice many singles make, often asking, “Why hasn’t God done anything about this?” Bitterness can lead to resentment, depression, and sin.

Ruth’s reply to Naomi’s advice is intriguing: “Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16-18). She chose to stay with Naomi.

True greatness

We all have a yearning for two levels of relational intimacy (Hybels 26). We desire relationship with God and other people. Ruth was committed to both kinds of intimacy.

Society wraps up our conscious (or unconscious) desire for intimacy with God and people into one solution—a romantic partner. This “cure” has led to discontentment among singles and couples, often due to unrealistic expectations of a partner.

Ruth had her priorities right. We should be developing intimacy with God and meaningful relationships with a variety of people. In the Book of Ruth, a wonderful love story unfolds between Ruth and Boaz. God blessed Ruth with a new husband. In fact, she eventually became the great-grandmother of King David (Matthew 1:5-16). Ruth’s decision to maintain her relationship with Naomi (even if it meant she may never marry again) positioned Ruth for greatness.

What choices have you made lately? Where are your priorities today?

Works Consulted:

Statistics Canada, “Population by marital status and sex, by provinces and territories.” [cited 11 December 2004]. Online http://www.statscan.ca. This is a 2004 statistic. The total Canadian population is 31,946,316. There are 15,540,151 married, 13,338,363 singles, 1,545,813 widowed, and 1,521,989 divorced. When adding singles, widowed, and divorced together, the total unmarried is 16,406,165.

Hybels, Bill and Lynne Hybels. Fit to be Tied: Making Marriage Last a Lifetime. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991. See chapter one for a thorough discussion of these myths. This is an excellent book for both singles and married couples seeking to hear a married couple’s honest insights on this important topic.

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