1

Spinster Is An Ugly Word

 

 

Spinster Is an Ugly Word

Recently, I watched a BBC video of Jane Austen narrated by Lucy Worsely. For almost an hour, Worsely explains what it would’ve been like for young women to live in the British social class of the 19th century. In short, Austen never had a chance at the life she dreamed of. Daughters were to be married off, but Austen mostly due to her father being a pastor couldn’t offer much in a dowry to any eligible man who had an interest in her. It was also a hard sell for women who wanted to write and sell fiction. As they weren’t taken seriously as a man would’ve been in her position. I suspect it wasn’t expected for women to dream of more than a husband and a family of your own. I wonder if she had married, would we still know Jane Austen the author who changed the world of literature.

At the relatively young age of 41 years, Austen died penniless, alone and a spinster. Never to experience the life and lavishness that the characters in her books did. From a quiet and unknown woman came stories that have and will continue to entertain and foster her reader’s appetite for the kind of life that she hoped and dreamed of but fell short because fiction isn’t reality.

Austen was so much more than just a spinster, she had written novels that would transform the world of literature and even beyond. Sadly, she was never able to see or enjoy the status her writing gained years after her death. I could say I have a lot in common with Jane Austen but I don’t. She didn’t live past her 41st year, she lived in the UK, and most importantly she in the 19th century. But as I watched this video, I realized how fortunate I am to live in the present. I don’t know where the ideas came from those women who in the eyes of that particular era had no potential beyond the roles as a wife and mother.

Dejected and Sad

That was the one emotion that fluttered its wings inside of me as I watched an actress play act out (in the documentary) what Austen might’ve been thinking or hope for. In her situation, hope was in low supply. She didn’t leave home to start university or, nor did she harbor dreams to live on her own, however, Austen did for a period of time. She worked on her writing and kept sending her manuscripts out to the publishers.

I’m single, and I am 41 years old turning 42 in less than two months. As I viewed this video, I didn’t see the similarities to Austen rather all the opposites. If I had been alive in the 19th century I might be more like Jane Austen relying on the kindness of others. Instead, I live on my own and I don’t rely on others to pay my rent, bills, groceries and any other extras. When I think about all I have compared to young women in the 19th century without a substantial dowry to catch the eye of an eligible man of the marriageable age. I don’t have a lot in savings, I have a school loan that I am slowly chipping away at. I would like to plan for the future but I don’t have plans for the single version of me. I have plans for the married version of me, and even that has grown smaller as I am trying to remain in the present, trying to enjoy myself now. I love living on my own and having my own space. In the last ten years, I have been able to see why it’s good to be single, and just do what I want and when I want.

Sometimes I feel this stigma of being single, even though statistics tell me that I’m not in short supply. But I am not a part of the hookup era, nor am I looking for a filler until the real deal comes in. I’m in this obvious meanwhile I wait phase, the place where you wonder, you dabble in things that you might not do when you’re otherwise married. This is my time to fly, to flourish but like Jane Austen, it is a hard place to occupy.

A lot of women like reading about the Regency era because it’s time period has this romantic element to it. It’s so foreign to our understanding. There was no rush, no time restraints as we experience them now. We have answers to a lot of what made life hard and difficult. I could list pros and cons to both periods. Most women want the romantic daydreams of their childhood even if no one is able to truly live up to those ridiculously handsome and debonair men.

And sometimes I have these tiny voices echoing all over the place reminding me that where I am and who I am isn’t enough when I know it is more than enough. Just being in a place and liking, even enjoying where you have been placed. Not worrying about society’s expectations. Don’t get me wrong it is important to keep those hopes and desires, but to many of us, it’s a heavy burden to carry as the years continue to pass. I’ve told God more than once to take the desires away, but they remain and so it tells me a couple of things…

Persist. Hope. Trust.

If you were in my interior like God is, you would know this not what I want to do. This is not natural to me because I have made living my life the very opposite of these three things. It’s slightly annoying but I think it’s a bit of an inside joke on me. I can’t see my potential but I am going forward blinded to what is possible. What is conceivable is that yes my prayers will be answered. If I have learned one thing about God it is that He isn’t in a rush. My perceived deadlines are just my impulse to want to control a situation that isn’t in my doable skills set. I don’t think I will next Jane Austen, far from it, but her tenacity to continue writing despite her situation is a token to me that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed to least of those.

Advertisements
4

Connecting

 

connecting

 

We’re all connected in some way.

I spoke about isolating myself in my last post, and how easy it is for me to do.  Obviously, that’s the opposite of connecting. It’s in the relationships in our lives that we heal and grow, and connecting is just a link to that. I was scared of having it all wrong. I didn’t see how I fit into the equation. I wanted to be liked for who I was, but I felt awkward. All the girls in my junior high-class had it all together. They wore clothes from stores like Ralph Lauren, Roots, Esprit and Benetton. Their fashion style seemed so effortless, and the best I could hope for was finding a knock-off, or a hand me down from one of these stores.

I know now that they were likely just as scared as I was, but appearances can play all kinds of mind games. I believed that it was easier not to connect, easier to push away relationships because that meant being real but this scared me. Pain can do funny things to you, and out of that pain, you operate differently. So I choose isolation and the loneliness that comes with it.

Just the symptoms

Some of us are better than others at connecting the dots, starting up social clubs, starting up relationships, and allowing ourselves to be seen rather than run away. Being social is a part of who we are as humans, it feeds something that is needed by all of us. Instead of finding a connection, we hide from being relational because at some point it was just easier to not show your heart.

These are all these starting points that block our way that leads the way to our potential, our worth, the beauty struggles inside of us, and trembles at the glimpse of His light. Instinctively, I knew I wasn’t supposed to hide, but fear is very good at pretending to be the problem. Distressed at the thought of being social limits everything that you are.

I still think you need to unearth the memories that your heart holds because we may want the same thing, but that desire will be expressed differently, accordingly to our uniqueness. As long as I isolated myself, I never allowed myself to dream, to wonder out loud about what I would love to do. I kept it inside, but I don’t know if I even knew how to connect with others. There were a couple of things that I think blocked me:

  • I felt rejected because I had first rejected myself
  • I didn’t believe I had anything to give
  • Belief of lies fed through the lack of connection and communication with others

I wanted to give because we all have something to give, but too often the lies from childhood and adolescence take a grip in our hearts. It’s easier than the truth because we’ve told ourselves that we aren’t worth the time, but we give willingly to others who steal what was never theirs in the first place. Don’t ever give up on making the kind of connection that you know you need. Healing can come in many forms.

When you realize that pieces of you are lying on the ground, it is then that connecting becomes a real possibility. When the pieces of your brokenness leave you feeling raw, it becomes more than just a piece of something you hold in the palm of your hand. Connecting with others will always be a fragile process, and it becomes harder as you get older, but it never becomes impossible.

 

 

 

3

Colour Blind

photo-1453974336165-b5c58464f1ed

 

 

Squeaky wheels always get the most attention.

I‘m the one who is quiet and sits in the back so I won’t be called on. Curiosity crawls inside of me, but often the questions remained inside my head. Inside, the high tides of anxiety overwhelm me and any thoughts or ideas were washed off in the waves of fear.

Value thy self

As I was reflecting back to growing up, I resembled a mixed up Rubik’s cube. All that was needed was someone to turn all the cubes back to what it looked like in the store. In many ways, I am to blame to how and what I believe about myself now. Instead of acting out, drinking, taking drugs, I isolated myself from everyone and thing. It wasn’t the greatest self-care.

I wanted to be valued but I had zero value to for myself, but to be honest, I didn’t know how to value who I am and was as a little girl.

Lately, the Lord has bringing been up how I don’t value myself, and he’s been showing me through my love languages. Even when you don’t love yourself, He continues to love and show me that I am deserving and worthy of all of his gifts that he has given me. I am priceless to Him.

People come from all over the world to see famous paintings such as Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, or the Prodigal Son at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. But most of us don’t put much work into ourselves because we’ve been taught not to value who we are. Trying to find your value in what you are or to others, will never satisfy the thirst to be all that you were made to be, and what is that? When we start to see ourselves through God’s eyes, the labels we attach to ourselves aren’t what we once thought they once were.

I don’t want to be confined to what I am, defined by what clothes I wear, or who I associate with.

Some of my clients call me their cleaning lady, and if I was a kettle you would see me boiling over with anger. I don’t consider myself just a cleaning lady, but it is a huge aspect of what I do every day. A lot of the seniors I work with want and need to make a connection – we all do – and sometimes I am the only person they will see all day. I have been doing this job for over five years, and every day I am working to do a better job. By putting value into my work maybe they will know they are valuable. Maybe they won’t feel the sting of being forgotten by their family or long for things to be the way they used to be.

Where we are now is to know how much God values us. He doesn’t give us what we can’t handle, or so were told. I am learning that this might hold true when we surrender what isn’t ours to hold onto, and put value into what He is giving us right now.

The value of our life does not depend on the place we occupy, it depends on the way we occupy that place.

St. Therese

4

Jesus Rides a Green Bicycle

 

 

file9991303336088

Hearing God’s voice is not like learning how to ride a bicycle, though to hear it sometimes you need to get back on in order to hear him speak to you.

~

There are many things that I have no problem doing alone, but in the last few years I have been finding out there are some things that I don’t want or like doing alone.

Riding a bicycle is one of them

When I first moved out on my own, I lived in an area that offers a lot of green space that is great area for walking, biking, running, boating in the summer, and in the winter, sledding and skating. I hesitate at suggesting you could fish because usually the fish don’t look too appetizing once they’re caught.

Initially, I bought the bicycle because I thought I had heard the Lord tell me to buy one. I wanted to be obedient to what I was hearing, but I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t rode a bicycle since I was 14 when I had broken my tail bone, but I wanted to try because I thought I heard him. I figure I had nothing to lose.

It’s all in the hearing the Lord, and how exactly do I do that? Well, a lot can be gleaned from His character. I know certain things about him, and so that allows me to have a good idea if it is him. Normally, I hear the Lord through a mixture of scripture reading, listening to that small still voice and journaling. Now, I can hear him through other ways, but he’s faithful to how he speaks to me.

First of all, I want to be up front

For any of you who have read this blog for any length of time, you will know that over five years ago, the Lord began tweaking my ability to sense Him. I used to be able to discern His answers (sometimes) in how I felt, but He changed things up because He doesn’t want you or me to stay where we are. It’s a good thing if you’re gung ho for change, but most of us aren’t, and we complain all the way there.

Most of us, and I am including myself in this group, deny that we hear anything that could be God. Yes, we’ll make mistakes, but the one thing I have learnt is He is faithful in how he speaks to us.

Being Open to Change

Lately, he speaks and it’s like a river that is running through me, it’s not a voice, but I am standing on dry ground and in it I can see a watery reflection of me. He’s taking me in deeper, and in it, I am ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ his silence and solitude, which is paving a way for me to ponder and reflect His invisible presence in me. For in him, we live and move and have our being. Acts~17:28.

I did ride a bicycle for a time, but I always got the feeling someone was right behind me and this bugged me. Whoever it was could just pass me. I would stop and look behind me, and there was no one, zip, nada, zero…This happen on more than one occasion, so I stopped taking going for a bike ride and for other reasons. It turns out someone was riding their bicycle behind me – it was Him.

0

Stripped Bare

Jesus was lonely.

The twelve disciples, men that Jesus had spent his last three years with had deserted him. Gone. It doesn’t say in the Gospels how Jesus reacted to their vanishing act, but if it had been me I would’ve been angry, hurt, fearful and full of why’s. Every day for the last three years, bang! they disappear after all he shared and given of himself to his disciplines. Jesus knew ‘his‘ time was approaching, and though he was committed to doing His father’s will, I wonder if he experience loneliness. Whether it was rejection or abandonment.  In Jesus’ case, it was probably both.

A friend of mine is lonely, but instead of trying to understand why she is lonely, she has chosen to check out online dating sites. I suggested to her that she not run away from the loneliness and all that it entails, but she isn’t interested in what her emotions are attempting to tell her. Sometimes feeling a certain way can lead you to understand what you’re feeling, and what to do about it. Putting a Band-Aid can aid in the healing, but after a while, the Band-Aid doesn’t stick as good as it did in the first place.

Isolation was my choice of drug.photo-1418513177777-540f7fdcaac4

Some people chose drugs or alcohol, but I believed if no one saw me then that would solve all of my difficulties. I didn’t and I  wouldn’t be anyone’s problem. Why did I want to isolate myself when the very thing; being with people was what I needed. In many ways, I had no idea what I was really doing to myself by pushing others away. Behind the loneliness lay rejection. It was my belief that who I am was rejected by my Dad and others after him, and so I locked myself away from those who I feared would hurt me. I wanted to isolate and protect myself from what I wasn’t comfortable with, from what I didn’t understand about the world in which I grew up. Repeatedly, I rejected the idea of how God made me to be, I did so, so I could push away the pain.

I’ve learned first hand how emotions can teach us what we need, but I’ve also learnt how easy it is to hide from these markers. I know now that how my anger and fear spoke into the truth that I was seeking for my life, and continually, I would push and ignore to keep going on – to appear normal.

Sorting out what are my needs vs. my wants isn’t always easy in a ‘can’t wait until tomorrow, I want it now’ saturated world. Discipline of the impulse gets a push to the back of the shelf because it’s not cool.

We hide out our loneliness as a kind of leprosy that inflicts us on inside, and it’s something hasn’t escaped anyone. The thing is most of us don’t know what to do with our loneliness.

I still can get surprised by feeling lonely, and stuck in the loneliness, before I can climb out of it. And by climbing, I mean of out myself because it’s usually means I am bemoaning myself. I wasn’t made to be alone, the Lord wants His children to be in community, but that has become a difficult situation with all the technology we have. Facebook, Twitter and the like will never take place of a good friend, someone who you can laugh with, share with and allow those tears come – if need be.

I love getting together with a friend in a coffee shop and catch up on what is going on in their life. Listening and hearing what may be their crosses or joys. This works for me, and it fills me to the brim and more. It might be old-fashioned but some things in this every changing minute by minute world shouldn’t because it’s our relationships in our lives that ultimately heal us.