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Reality Verses Romance: Attaching Our Hope to a God-given Vision

Alison Moore lives in London and has been a committed Christian celibate since 2006. She writes about her experience of coming to terms with her past, leaving aside ‘unreal’ dreams and attaching hope to a solid vision God has given her.

Ask most men what kind of film they like to watch and they will tell you that the fast-paced movies with plenty of action and adrenalin appeal to them.  Movies like Fast and Furious which portray a successful tough male persona are popular – it is the strength of the man and his ability to affect the situation around him which is significant.

As for us ladies, well – the majority of women identify on some level with characters like Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and her desire to win the unruly Mr Darcy. It is her beauty and its capacity to affect others which counts.

Why do these stereotypes appeal to us? They appeal to us in a very healthy way to demonstrate positive behaviour and can provide healthy role models. Strength for men can be character strength and leadership, not just brawn, and beauty for women can be grace, humour, determination and so on.

Yet sometimes fiction can function as a substitute for us and instead of leading us into reality it can trap us ouFast and furioust of it. Sometimes a painful event can stop us from moving forwards.

When I was a teenager I rebelled and got into going out with boys, getting drunk and staying out. My behaviour resulted, after a few years, in me getting pregnant, having the pregnancy terminated and losing the love of my life. For many years I just couldn’t get over it – the whole thing was just so devastating and I didn’t have a clue how to get over it. Nothing helped.  My life was totally destroyed.

Because the reality of my life had hit a brick wall, my only option for a while was to take refuge in my imagination and somehow that imagination seemed to offer me hope. In my imagination I would have a second chance, fall in love, get married and have children.

The trouble with my dream is that it just wasn’t real. And it took a very long time before I could let go of the fact that deep down I was still in love with the father of my pregnancy and face the fact that my dream was never going to happen. It can be very easy for us to nurture things which are not real because we kid ourselves we can get something for nothing and we can comfort ourselves or put a lot of hope in these things. We can substitute the hope for the reality of doing anything about it.

Anything which is not real is not of God. God is in the business of reality and the plan He has for us is 100% real.  He has created us and everything which is for us. It is only what He has created us for that will satisfy because these are the things we are made for.

Maybe we think one day we will get married or have children or be a great leader or plant a church or something but if the origin of it is not from God and we are just ‘dreaming’  or we are still hanging on to things from the past which have themselves moved on, then it doesn’t happen.  When it doesn’t happen we get sick, frustrated, older and just don’t fulfil our potential in life – we get ‘stuck’.

Lots of people like to watch films because they identify with a deep need in us to be beautiful or to be strong.

Imagination can be a very powerful thing because we attach hope to it and that hope gives direction for our future.

But – as a friend of mine quoted –  ‘entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy’.

It took me a long time for me to realise that my dream wasn’t going to happen. And, when I did that, I needed to repent of my dream and turn away from it. That was a very difficult thing to do because then I had to face the devastation again because that was my reality and it was still there – just the same many years later. Reality doesn’t change without us in it – that’s the amazing thing and that’s what makes it our reality. The only way I could face that devastation and loss was with someone else who had been there before me and that person was Jesus. But I found oupride and prejudicet very quickly that He was there to bring me healing from the old wounds and so much joy as I realised that God’s love had been there with me all along.

How powerful it is when we attach our hope to a vision God has given us.

As one of our pastors was saying last night – ‘What is the dream God has placed in our hearts? What is the dream that God has placed in your heart?’

Do we need to repent of hopes which are not of God to make room for the ones which are?  How amazing and how wonderful that would be.

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Posted by on Fri 26th Apr 2013 in Contemporary

 

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A Second Call: Lisa Gee on Celibacy

Lisa GeeMy name is Lisa. I am 48 years old and have been living single for the Lord in the world for a bit now.

When did I first hear the call?

The first time I heard the call was at my first communion. I was seven and did not know about any such thing. All I knew was that I wanted to belong totally to Jesus and that thought brought me joy. I wish I could report that I kept that ideal but I did not. Why? Maybe I did not trust that this call was real; also I had never met anyone living this way. So I got married and soon had five children. However my husband was an alcoholic and we were separated.  There I was, alone, with five children under eight. What was I to do? The wise thing family and friends thought was to find a nice Christian guy and try this whole thing again. But God had other plans and in the midst of all my worries and fears I heard the call again. Of course there was joy but I thought I have to be reasonable, don’t I? After pondering it for another 3 years I said “yes” to this beautiful way of life in March 1996 and made a public declaration in August of 2000.

What sustains me in this calling?

The most important thing for me is time alone with God in both quality and quantity. If I cut this time short I forget why I am doing this and it becomes drudgery.

Single parenting and celibacy, how does that work?

That was a deep concern of mine; would this choice make life harder on my children? The answer is the divorce made life a struggle but celibacy brought stability and a sense of peace to the home. While we never had much money, my children love each other and treat me with respect and in it all God is glorified. I am the least of all celibates and do not consider myself equal to those who have been true since their youth. But I am grateful that God made something beautiful out of past mistakes. My hope is in His Kingdom when we will see Him as He is.

What has been my biggest struggle?

Unbelief! “Is that God really calling you? Are you sure?” This has left me weak but God is strong and that is my hope. Another pitfall for me was to ask everyone and their uncle about the call. While it is good to check in with a trusted friend or spiritual adviser at the end of the day no one knows that tug in a celibate’s heart and it cheapens the call when we try to defend it from those who just don’t understand. Keep holy things holy. This call is holy!

Next week: book review by Lisa

 
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Posted by on Thu 18th Apr 2013 in Interviews

 

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Hildegard of Bingen [1098-1179] Celibacy is Green! (Part 1)

What greater praise can I give you than to call you green?’

hildegard 2This Saturday is Accelerate (women’s training day in the Jesus Fellowship). Following the traffic light theme, we’ve already had ‘red’ and ‘amber’ days so now it’s ‘green’ day for ‘go’ – ‘ready for action!’

But, you know, Hildegard of Bingen loved the colour green and she is one of my heroes so we had to invite her to step into our day somewhere! We’re going to have a presentation on her life and dress our Coventry Jesus Centre in ‘living green.’

Yes, Hildegard, she’s got a lot to say to us women, whether single or married.

Hildegard, described as “one of the most remarkable woman of the Middle Ages,”* was born in Bermersheim in Rheinhessen, Germany, in 1098. She was the tenth child of a noble family and her father was a soldier.

At the age of eight she began to be trained and educated by a nun called Jutta who lived nearby in a Benedictine monastery in Disobodenberg. Others soon joined them and, at 15, Hildegard became a Benedictine nun.

Jutta died in 1136 and Hildegard, with her deep love for God and creative leadership ability, was elected the new leader of the community. In 1150 she left Disobodenberg to found a new community in Rupertsberg near Bingen. Fifteen years later, a daughter house at Eibingen was established nearby.

When Hildegard was about forty, she felt God tell her to dictate to someone what she had learned about Him and the quality of life He longs to bring. (She could read but never learned to write.) Although reluctant at first, her works began to be circulated and she found crowds of people flocking to her for advice and help. Some were local but others came from more distant parts of Europe. She became spiritual advisor to many of the leading religious and political figures of the day, corresponding with kings and queens, abbots and abbesses as well as ordinary people. She began travelling extensively whilst still continuing to lead her two communities.

Hildegard’s energy and vision led her into many fields: she authored works on medicine and natural science and composed music. She painted her visions and wrote poetry. She even invented a new language which was a mixture of Latin and German!

At the centre, and fuelling Hildegard’s great industry and love of life, was her profound love for Jesus, which found expression in her celibate gifting. To her, Jesus has not come primarily to take away the old life but to gift us with abundant, new life. For her, the celibate life is always meant to be vibrant and ‘green’, not life denying and ‘grey.’ In her writings she makes much of the subject of greenness, drawing her inspiration from the fresh and verdant life that is manifest in God’s creation. To her, celibates are the jewel of God’s glorious creation.

Hildegard wrote that celibacy has at its core a passionate love for Jesus and, through this love, celibates can experience life on a higher plain and not continually be dominated by natural pleasures and loves. Celibates need not dwindleHildegard but blossom and positively shine and radiate God’s love and life as they are acquainted and filled with the Holy Spirit.

 Although suffering from ill health all her life, Hildegard lived to be eighty. The test of true greatness in spiritual writers is that both their life example and their works stand the test of time and have something to say to every generation. This is certainly true of Hildegard of Bingen.

*The Penguin Dictionary of saints, Donald Attwater.)

 
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Posted by on Fri 14th Dec 2012 in Historical

 

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