“How deep the Father’s Love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would give His only Son, to make a wretch His Treasure”…..you are Beloved by God, in Christ. ❤ x
“How deep the Father’s Love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would give His only Son, to make a wretch His Treasure”…..you are Beloved by God, in Christ. ❤ x
For previous ‘travel snaps’ of my adventures, please click on the ‘Travel’ tab in my main menu 🙂
Wednesday 16th August 2017
As you will know, if you have been following on with my travel adventure series, arrival at our hotel was not without a little bit of drama! 🙂
However, it was lovely to at last get off the bus, after being on the road for a few hours. It was just before dinner time, and the evening was sweet, sun-kissed and pleasant. I was beginning to feel the excitement of a traveller in a new place.
Before me in front of the hotel was a long straight main street, clean, and neat, except from the occasional glimpses of graffiti, with trams gliding past. A couple from my tour group who have travelled extensively throughout America said that it looked a lot like San Fransisco.
I was pleasantly surprised as I wandered into the hotel to check in. The lobby was vast, and nicely stylised. However, you may want to take a sneak peek into the hotel for yourself. 🙂
Social media has changed things. For those of us who are young(ish) adults, we may remember a time before the Internet (yes, younglings….there really was such a time! and no, I’m not old 🙂 ), the transition to when the Internet first came to be, and our first intrepid steps into this new world of knowledge at our fingertips. Yes, sometimes that knowledge would be a bit slow to load up on our computer screens, we had dial up modem connections and we also had a bit more patience. These were the days when our first instincts when presented with a school or university paper to write were still to go to the ‘LIBRARY’ (yes, the kind of library with books made of *actual* paper 😉 ) to do our research, and perhaps venture into the strange and novel ‘World Wide Web’ to supplement our findings.
Put in perspective of the length of human history, it is fair to say that the Internet is actually quite a new creation, and hasn’t actually been around for that long. And yet, nowadays, it seems like babies are weaned on the milk of electronic gadgets and gizmos that are rapidly changing and developing, and many school aged children, even very young children, cannot imagine a world, or their lives, without the Internet, and have never experienced such a world.
So although as adults, those of us who were growing up just as the strange language of this mysterious ‘Web’ began to enter our parlance, or who were already ‘fully fledged adults’ as it were, had passed through those fiery adolescent years of wondering if anyone liked us after all, we are still faced with this nervous desire to know whether we are ‘liked’ every time we connect to the web. Or at least, most of us are.
Social media has changed things. In many parts of the world it is absolutely and irreversibly the norm. We no longer see the Internet primarily as a tool to gain knowledge or to supplement education and learning, but as a multifaceted, ubiquitous, all things to all people, source of input, entertainment, news, gossip, stories, celebrities, fact, ‘fake news’, colours, noise, opinions, ideas, creations, inventions, innovations, trends, popularity contests and the seemingly endless list goes on and on and is daily reinvented.
Perhaps those of us who blog seek a quieter and more reflective online space, that the more fast paced social media tools that we may also use such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (and there my knowledge of such things ends 😉 ) would grant us.
But nonetheless, even the more reflective world of blogging shares the common feature of the ‘like’ facility.
How many of us log in to our Word Press accounts and immediately look at that little bell at the top right of the screen to see whether it has a little red or orange marker to indicate that someone has ‘liked’ or appreciated our content? You can be honest with yourself here.
It is a fascinating little ‘button’ that often makes me smile when I click on it, mainly because it makes me feel more connected to you. I realise that on the other side of this computer screen are real people, with fascinating stories, unique lives and thoughts, who have taken the time to acknowledge and appreciate mine. That is really something special, I think. And truly, the Internet can be a wonderful place, with some truly special people in it.
However, sometimes I wonder whether there is something about that ‘like button’ that triggers an instinct in ourselves to evaluate who we are, our value, and the value of what we have to say by how many ‘likes’ we receive. If we pour our heart and soul into writing something meaningful to us, and it is not noticeably acknowledged, does this in turn impact our self-esteem, even on a subconscious level?
Don’t get me wrong, I think ‘likes’ are wonderful. I genuinely like ‘likes’, and feel more connected with other people online because of them. However, if we find that our attention is unduly drawn towards whether something we have shared on our blogs has been liked or not, if we feel our heart sink if it hasn’t, and if we feel a glimmer of old feelings from childhood and teenage years when our likeability by our peers seemed to be a direct evaluation of our perceived worth, then perhaps it is time to take a step back.
I know that sinking feeling. And I know it has deeper roots than anything Internet related. As a child I was badly bullied for a few years, and I was worthless. I didn’t just feel worthless, but my existence was consumed by this rejection, the not measuring up, not being liked or being actively disliked, of being undesirable, outcast, rejected, neglected, unworthy, broken, hurting, isolated, ignored, overlooked, despised and alone. My broken heart and wounded mind is still being repaired and undergoing a process of transformation. No child, or adult for that matter, deserves to feel that way. And the more I think about it, the more I realise I feel passionately about encouraging other people, as well as myself, to know that although it is lovely, and a natural human desire, to be appreciated, our worth as individuals, as members of this community, and the worth of what we have to say and to share cannot be diminished by the lack of a ‘like’.
You *are* a star irrespective of whether anyone has pressed that star to like your post. You are unique, incredible and fascinating, with stories that no one but you can tell, and a world within a world of thoughts, imagination, hopes, dreams, fears and love. You can change things in everyday small quiet ways and even that in its own way is revolutionary. You are important because you are you. This is our humanity. And sometimes, as wonderful as the Internet is, the online world can rob us of that assurance. We are faced with numbers, targets, statistics, comparisons, and we are encouraged, especially by advertisers to never feel quite good enough – the next achievement, or makeover or purchase will add value to our damaged, inadequate selves.
And yet, despite our brokenness, our mistakes, our evaluations of self and others, we are infinite. And we are important. And even if we are not ‘liked’, we are created for a reason, and we are LOVED.
It’s Friday evening, almost 7.15pm, and I’m not long home from a day at work. It’s been a blessed sun-kissed day, which is a special treasure in my part of the world where precipitation is by no means an uncommon occurrence! I’m sitting on my couch, feet up and laptop propped upon my knees, as I enjoy the view.
I live on the tenth floor of a flat that overlooks a city bridge where right now I can see cars scurrying to and fro, most likely taking weary commuters home for the weekend after a long day at work in some office or other.
Of course, there are so many more stories than there are cars or people within them. Stories that I know nothing about. And here I sit, in solitude, not knowing quite what my heart wishes to express. So let’s find out together as I write.
As well as the city sights of cars and buildings, hotels and grey block flats, I can also see blue skies, and hills in the distance, trees and church steeples and spires. In some ways it is like a moving picture postcard of an evening, and the sunlight catches the bonnets of vehicles and they look like moving jewels upon a conveyer belt.
I wonder where they are all going to? I wonder, also, as I take the time to think, just who you are, my dear reader, if you have been so kind and gracious to visit my space online, and read this far. If you have, then thank you. I find that wondrous. That somewhere in the ‘ether’ of a wired up world, we serendipitous strangers cross each others paths and connect. At least, I hope we do. For I hope that these writings, musings, ramblings, or ‘whatever you call thems’, this Blog, is as much for you as it is for me.
I am making an educated guess that given the tags I have used, you are likely to be musing over what it means to live the single life too. Either that or you have friends or family members who are single that you care about. Whatever the case, I can only write from my own experience and what I have learned.
Singleness is not a disease!
One thing I have found through many years of walking this path, along with longings for love and a family of my own, is that society generally does not have a healthy view of the single adult. I am blessed to have overcome challenges in my younger days of struggling to make friends to having come to know and share parts of my journey with some lovely people. Towards the later years in university, I made some connections with friends of different backgrounds and stages in life. I’ve now been working full time for a few years, and have also come across all sorts of people, some that I hold close and dear to my heart and others who I know for my own peace of mind I must hold at arms length and pray for from a distance.
Through the years and as the seasons have changed and as we have grown from one stage of life to the next I have been the friend lovingly ‘cheering on’ my friends, as they have had engagements, bridal showers, weddings, and then baby showers, babies and toddlers and children’s parties, and so forth. I wonder if you too have watched the endless stream of ‘updates’ of your friends lives as they celebrate the significant ‘milestones’ of life that we human beings tend to feel the existential need to celebrate? I wonder if in all of their ‘Significance’ you have felt insignificant? I wonder if you do not have friends whose milestones you can even celebrate, and if you feel all the more so alone in life, and in that also sense an insignificance or unworthiness to who you are as compared to who society and maybe also your own heart tell you you ‘should’ be.
If you metaphorically tick any of the above boxes, then I salute you. I say this because you not only have to overcome the inner challenges that you face, whether that be of self doubt, fear of the future, loneliness, isolation, abandonment, low self esteem, lack of confidence, wondering ‘what’s wrong with me?’, or whatever inward challenges they may be, but you additionally have to face the many hurdles of a society that too often views singleness as some kind of a ‘disease’ to be ‘cured’ by a relationship (and sometimes, sadly, at any cost!), rather than a season of life, or even a permanence in the way of your particular unique and individual life, whether wished for or prayed against, to be celebrated! When was the last time anyone threw you a ‘Single Shower’? Nope, me neither, friend! 🙂 Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And moreover, rest assured, singleness, the state of being uncoupled, not in a relationship, independent, flying solo, all alone, whatever you prefer to call it, it is most certainly not a disease!
p.s. As a side note, if you are fortunate enough to have a single friend who has lovingly celebrated your life, whether that be an engagement party, bridal shower / hen do / stag party, wedding, baby shower, children’s party, etc, etc – think seriously about showing your appreciation for them….they have waited and ached long enough for appreciation, and have lovingly yet also dutifully taken on the role of cheerleader or wallflower, wondering if anyone cares about the state of their heart….show them you care, even if in a small and understated way….do they have to wait for a ‘significant other human being’, a Mr or Miss ‘Right’ to complete their life in some way? What if that never happens? Do they in and of themselves not deserve some loving kindness, and celebrating just for who they are? I think so 🙂 Plus, isn’t it better to give than to receive? 🙂
All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
And so, the stream of traffic flows endlessly to and fro. That phrase ‘the city never sleeps’, well, I can tell you, it’s true! No matter what time of day or night I see it, that bridge always has commuters going somewhere or perhaps even driving away from something.
“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” – The Beatles.
Was a question The Beatles once posed. I can guarantee you, it is not from some dismal cave of singleness! At least, not all of them 😉
We do not live in a ‘whole’ society. Our communities are not made up of wholesome families, living perfect lives in a fairy tale world with a white picket fence (I’m not even so sure why the white picket fence should be so important 🙂 ). We live in a fallen, fractured, broken world. Yes, there is a lot of love. Some people do seem to have ‘perfect lives’ or as near to such as this present life can offer. Pull back the curtains and light shines through. Open the closets and no skeletons fall out, but in their place fragrant roses of love and trust, companionship and respect bloom. These are blessed people indeed, but I would venture to guess they are not the majority. And even if they are, we should be happy that our society has such ‘building blocks’ of healthy families in place. For what starts in the home extends outwards to society, to friends and colleagues, co-workers, and relations. So we should celebrate rather than envy what is wholesome in this world, even if it is something that we feel we lack. And even if that is a challenge.
Some of these commuters in their nameless matchbox cars will pull up in front of a building this evening. They will look in the mirror, take a deep breath, and step out of their cars and into their lonely, frustrating or volatile and dysfunctional family lives. Some will not have families to go to but may refuse to stand alone and independent for fear of feeling the ache of loneliness. And so they will compromise themselves, and other people, and feel guilty for it. I don’t know what all of their stories are or will become, and I pray for all of those lonely people, who are going back to houses filled with people, but also the many problems that they may bring.
The Blessings of Singleness
Right now, I have time to think about these things. It’s Friday evening, and I have it as a gift all to myself. There is no one vying for my attention, and I can enjoy my solitude. I can relax and plan out my evening just as I like it. There are so many things that I could do. I can relax and reflect, I can write and think and pray, I can watch a film of my choice, put a pizza in the oven, read a good book, study, dance or sing if I feel like. I can reach out to other people. I can cook and study. I can dream of travels. I can pray about how I can be a blessing to other people. I can indulge in my creativity. I can plan something to do for someone else. I can plan a treat for myself. I can connect with my Creator, God, Who really Is the Only One Who makes me Whole in life. I can smile at my independence, as I can hear myself think and peacefully listen to the chirp of birdsong ringing clear through my open window.
I can…..I can…..I can……
Is that how you view your solitude? Don’t worry if it’s not, for that is understandable. I have wrestled with it too at times, and I have cried too. But you see the thing is, singleness isn’t the source of unhappiness just as being in company or married isn’t the source of happiness.
This is a blessed time to focus on yourself, take care of your needs, get to know who you are and what is important to you in life, and to invest in yourself and what matters to you. It is a time to grow in character, and in the virtues of a ‘good’ character – that of love, kindness, joy, peace, patience, temperance, self-control, and so many more wonderful things. It is a blessed time to shed the wearisome, dull and lacklustre garments of envy, jealousy, bitterness, and self pity. It is a time to stretch forth your arms in praise, and to count your blessings rather than resent the blessings that others have that you don’t have, or don’t have yet.
For in each stage of life there are plusses and minuses, ups and downs, pros and cons, blessings and challenges. Sometimes being on your own shields you from a lot of challenges that come with being with other people. People face conflict, they hurt each other, they even die.
We cannot put our hopes for a happy or meaningful life in any other person. Yes, the people in our lives can be real blessings to us, and we to them, but ultimately they are not where we find our Answer, nor are we theirs.
We need to be whole in ourselves or on the maturing path to becoming more whole or less broken, in order to be a blessing to others. Otherwise we seek from others what they cannot possibly give and things fall apart, ‘the centre cannot hold’, and society goes on fracturing and breaking itself.
Embrace Your Freedom
So dear one, look up, and take time to embrace the freedom that you have. Many people long after it secretly when the thing that is weighing them down is a commitment that they just can’t get away from. And so the lonely people do often go home to full houses.
Comparison is the Thief of Joy & The Grass is always greener…..
Comparison is the thief of joy: it speaks for itself, really.
The grass is always greener…..where you water it. Not on the other side, but on where you invest your time and love to nurture it, it will be greener than it was before. And what can you do but live the very life that you have been gifted with, with all its joys and sorrows, right here and right now?
So water that grass you’ve been given with all your heart. Put love into your life, right now, this day. Nurture yourself, grow in independence, and ultimately you will grow strong enough to reach out to others. Even your tears may water and birth something beautiful, who knows?
Solitude can be deep happiness
Well my dear ones, if you have made it this far, ‘Congratulations!’. I hadn’t intended to write this much, but this was a freeflowing and unplanned journey that we have taken together.
I encourage you to think about what is special about you and your life, and if you feel like that is ‘nothing’, then that is your starting point of self discovery, because I truly believe that you are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, special and precious to God, and even if you don’t believe in God, know that you are unique and there is no one else like you. You have hopes and dreams and gifts and character unique to you. Maybe you need to fight through some thorns and thistles and briers to find the treasure that you seek about yourself, I have had to do so myself, but there is treasure there in who you are and I pray that you will find it.
Your life is also special and important. Right here, right now. You have the very gift of life in this fleeting world. Your very breath itself is a miracle. You have the wonder of sight if you are reading this page, and of knowledge and understanding that comes from the gift of an education that many do not have. You have access to the Internet, which very likely means you are not in severe poverty and that you are blessed to know where your next meal, and even next paycheck is coming from. Or at least you have enough to ensure your survival and safety for today. You may have many, many, many more blessings heaped and overflowing on top of these, if only you would take the time to think about and notice them, and be thankful for them.
And if you have insights of your own, as I am certain that you do, that I or others may learn from then please do share your beautiful ‘voice’ with us that we may learn from your unique journey and perspective too.
And in the meantime, I am off to put a pizza in the oven, pour myself an nice cold drink, put my feet up and enjoy this evening of blessed solitude.
Much love my blogger friends, whoever you are, and wherever you may be going, you are never truly alone, and your life is a wondrous miracle if you would open your eyes and heart to see it! Be blessed, and know how blessed you already are.
I trace the contours of the moon with my eyes. I once thought she was my ‘guiding light’, but I was so lost then. I cried out to You, but the skies were sealed to my desperate pleas. Muffled in silence I quietly wept. The despair was potent in the mere thought that there could be life without You.
People came and went, not caring. They didn’t need the moon, nor You or anything beyond that real and solid thing in front of them there, in that moment. I would rather die. Or be as if I had never been. I was suffocating, desperately longing, but You were not there, or so it seemed.
At a cross roads yet again, led by the aching of my soul, to find and to Be Found. My heart was shattered glass within me, I bled inside, and there was no Healer. And yet I knew. If I desperately searched, surely, somehow, someway I would find You. For I knew.
Seventeen. Reaching out for meaning. Being led and not seeing. Seeking to live in the depths of now, and yet so wounded. Trying to hold myself together in a fantasy. Trying to walk away from the pain. Inside, eleven, twelve, frozen in trauma and a child’s helpless sorrow. Where were you? Where are you now? I bleed. I bleed.
Is this the mid point? I saw You, I cried out for You, not Who or What anymore, but You and You came to me, rescued me, and are healing me. I belong to You and to no other.
Who is there in heaven but You? There is none that I desire, but *You*.
Your blood is that scarlet ribbon that ties me to You. Only in looking back can I trace the echoes of Your grace, the handprints of Your love, and the broken bread crumbs of Your Sacrifice, scattered along my path, hidden in darkness yet present each and every day.
If I am lost, it is in Your certainty. I do not know the path ahead, or how to heal what has been wounded. But You Are The Path. The Way that’s found me.
You trace the deepest caverns of my soul. And there, You Love me. Endlessly.
I am new to blogging, and would welcome your advice.
If you could share one thing you have learned with me, or even think about what advice you would give to your ‘younger self’ when starting out in the blogging world, what would it be?
I would love to read your insights, so please do feel welcome to comment below.
Thanks in advance,
A newbie blogger 🙂
I believe that for many of us, writing is an expression of our soul. It is also a gift that is not only a means of communication, but of deep and significant connection. When you or I write, and share, we also receive.
This is my first ever day blogging on WordPress. I have blogged occasionally before, some years ago, but for some serendipitous reason unknown to me, I was not able to make the connections of giving and receiving that I seem to have encountered on my first day blogging here.
Perhaps when something is fresh and novel it is easier to be captivated by what we have discovered than when it becomes familiar and commonplace. My first impression of blogging on WordPress is how quickly it facilitates connection, or at least it seems to me that it does.
As human beings making our individual and shared journeys and discoveries through life, we are so much more enriched by what we learn and discover with each other.
I feel as if I have opened a window to a new world, and I can see glimpses of the world that I have never seen before.
‘What a difference a day makes’, say the words of a song…’and the difference is you’.
You, each of you that I have connected with already, in some small way – whether we have read, liked or followed each others posts, enjoyed an as yet unseen part of the world through a photograph, or expressed appreciation in a comment – you have opened up a window to me of a world I had not seen before, and I am grateful. And so I take to flight on this new journey, excited as to what I will find, and what we may share.
As I said, I am new to this world of blogging, and I may make mistakes along the way, so I welcome any advice and input, and look forward to connecting with you all.
Thanks for stopping by, and taking the time to read this 🙂