Unbelievably, it's only just over a month until my official book launch at Liverpool Cathedral (I don't think that will ever not sound weird to me!). And apparently, the book could be available to buy in the shops within the next couple of weeks. I can't imagine what it will feel like to walk into a shop and see my book on a shelf!
Anyway, I thought it might be fun, between now and then (by way of whetting your appetite!) to blog about each of the chapters in turn. So off we go with Chapter 1, entitled 'Wholly Single'.
In this chapter, I begin to explore what it means to live the 'full life' that Jesus promised us in John 10:10. How, as a single person, do I live a full life? What if I long to be married, to have someone with whom to share my life? What if I don't have children, but would dearly love to have them? What if the current circumstances of my life are not those which I would have chosen? What if I hope for marriage one day (soon)? Or what if I don't actually hope for marriage, but am simply trying to work out how to live this single life well? What does a full life look like for a single person?
If it's sometimes true to say that single people feel 'less' than whole people, then why is that? Is it because we ourselves are unhappy in our singleness, or unfulfilled, or desperate for life to be different? Or is it actually that it's society, the people around us, who have the problem with our singleness, rather than us? Is it simply that it can often be quite difficult to be single in our world today, for a whole host of complicated reasons?
In this chapter I share the results of a survey that I did amongst a number of single Christian friends. They kindly answered a whole host of questions about what being single felt like for them. They listed the following 'single issues' in order, based on how much of an issue they felt them to be - lack of touch, organising holidays, having someone to talk/share with, loneliness, sex (i.e. not having it!), childlessness and living alone. Obviously these weren't all issues for everyone - some single people do have children, and not all live alone. But it was interesting to see people's responses, and the comments they made about each of the issues.
Psalm 139 is one of the best-known and most beautiful parts of the Bible, talking about how God created us, and has known us since before we were born. It's so important for each one of us to really know and understand and experience for ourselves just how much God loves us.
In The Message paraphrase of the Bible, part of Psalm 139 reads like this -
"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God - you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvellously made!
I worship in adoration - what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
the days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day."
So the challenge for me as a single Christian is - how will I live my life to the full, how will I be the very best 'me' that I can be, how will I be most fully and completely the person God knows I can be, so that he is glorified? I don't want to be defined by what I am not and what I don't have - not married, no children. I want to be defined by who I am - a child of God, made in his image, loved for all time, and created for a purpose.
This is why the book has the title it has. I've known for as long as I've thought about writing a book that it would be called Single Minded - I am a single-minded God-follower. Nothing and no one is more important to me than he is. He guides my life and shapes my days. I am single, that's just how it is. But I choose to be single minded in my devotion to him.