The Unexpected Blessing of Being Single

The world spins around me like I’m riding on a carousel. I see the faces of the people in my life as I go up and down, up and down. These people feed my soul. I need them. They have been gifts to me from the one and only God who knows me better than I know myself. This same God has kept me single all 41 years of my life and so many times I have felt like I was being punished, when in reality, I was being given a different kind of gift…

I have a big heart and lots of love to give, maybe too much to handle for just one person. Maybe the weight of my love would have been so great that if I had settled down with one girl she might have been smothered by it. I see my love like piles of blankets, falling down in beautiful colors surrounding those that I love, cradling them, letting them know that I see them, they are not alone.  But sometimes you can have too many blankets, sometimes you can have too much love. Yes, perhaps it was best to be single all these years to spread that love around…

As I have walked through life single I have been forced to make the extra effort to connect with people. The intimacy, affection, affirmation, and attention that I crave, that I need, I have found in others. Where I gave love, I mostly got it in return. This love was supernatural, a love so pure and powerful that like refining fire it burned away years of wounds and pain that had built up like plaque in the arteries of my soul. The scars from bullies, the breaks from bad dads, and bruises of insecurity and doubt. The crippling effects of shame. I could not heal these wounds alone. God doesn’t expect us to be able to heal them alone, not even with his help. He sends us people and we need to let them heal us by telling them about the pain. The Bible says in James 5:16, “ Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” If we confess our sins to God he provides forgiveness, confessing our sins to others provides healing for our soul.

Over the years I have collected people and memories over things. Things matter very little when you have no one to share them with in your life and so make people a priority. If I had been married at a young age I don’t think I would have ever realized the unexpected blessing that comes from being single. Riding in my carousel I have a unique view of so many lives and I have seen how marriage and family, while it is a blessing, creates a dynamic where your focus is on your family and their needs first. I have not had that restraint. I have not had that burden and therefore I have been able to freely navigate through life and become a part of multiple families – and not just a small part. I have many fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews. People who see me not just as a friend, but an actual family member. And really, what is a bit of biology anyway when you are connected at the heart?

As we go through life sometimes we think that the things that have happened to us are the things that make us unlovable when in reality they are the very things that make us who we are, and when we are real with others they love us not because of our perfection, but because of our inadequacies.

Last night I was talking on the phone to a friend of mine who is working his dream job. He has been there for three years and he said before he got the job he had looked at his resume and felt that it was a hodge lodge of skills and that he wasn’t really a great candidate for any promising careers. He had worked in ministry, music and technology and where he finally got his dream job his set of skills, hodge dodge as they were, created the perfect fit for this amazing company. And isn’t that just the way things are in life? We think that the things that have broken us down are negatives, but in reality, they are always positive if we move forward and don’t let them hold us back. Being bullied as a child made me sensitive and compassionate to other people. My desire to be loved by others, made me lovable. My need to be heard, made me a better listener. My desire to be “seen” helped me to “see” people.

I hope in this journey we call life that you are not even for a moment thinking about going it alone. You are doing yourself and others a disservice by isolating your pain, your shame and not allowing yourself to be fully known. As a single man I get to talk with a number of married guys and I am surprised by how many of them aren’t even fully “known” or “seen” by their wives. The reason is usually fear and shame. Not allowing yourself to be vulnerable limits intimacy with others. When someone shares something real about themselves, I immediately feel closer to them because it makes me realize we aren’t all that different. Each of our stories are completely unique and somehow they end up produces the same outcomes. We all got shit we are dealing with. Grab a friend and grab a shovel.

The Hunt

I saw her there in the flesh. A sweet buttery surprise. When she smiled the room lit up so bright that nothing else existed. As she reached out to touch me I recoiled in fear. It would be too much. I hadn’t seen her in so many months. I had taken the memories of her, my feelings, my longings and buried them in the basement of my heart. There beneath the piles of broken dreams and desires long-forgotten, my feelings came rushing back, like Lazarus, resurrected. My face flashes with heat, like opening a door to an oven, but I cannot slam it back shut. I force a smile. No, it’s real. I am so happy to see her. But I cannot dare to hope. What I always dreamed will never be… at least not with her, at least… not now.

I stared into her eyes I couldn’t handle the shimmering beauty that stared back at me drawing me in. I stand up taller. I allow her to hug me. I keep my feelings in check. Then she is gone. Like a hummingbird she has flitted away leaving me with nothing but a raw ache.

I have only ever loved two women in my life. And I mean really loved. Loved to the point that being with them was worth giving up everything. But they did not love me back. So I’m on to the next… hoping that there is a third. The ache, the weak knees, the hunger… it’s all part of the fun.

All I Want for Christmas Is You…

It’s the Holidays and your single. Everywhere around you there are couples in love wearing cheerful sweaters and sipping hot chocolate and peppermint mocha’s. Couples are grouping up, getting married, having babies and pretty much living a life that leaves you feeling lonely and excluded. You are standing under the mistletoe, lips puckered, but with no one to kiss…

Your friends all tell you “Don’t get into a rush, you’ll find the ‘Right One’ soon…” but you expected “soon” to have happened years ago and so you have grown impatient and maybe even a little angry. Trust me. I know. At 35 I’m still single. I’ve had a lot of great relationships (and a few not-so-great) but for some reason (God) they never worked out. I tried various dating sites and participated in various singles groups at church, but here I am, still single – just where God wants me.

I think that as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate the freedom that being single provides, but more than that, I’ve learned to understand that there can be a joy in the anticipation of waiting. Immediate gratification starts to sour after a while and always getting what we want can really take the fun out of waiting for something great…

This Holiday season is the first year that I have heard of Advent. I’ve been a Christian for 30 years and very active in church and ministry and so how has this wonderful tradition escaped me? While attending The Village Church in Denton they showed us this great video. It is a “must-watch” this Holiday season.

Advent: God With Us from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait…

I love this video and how it repeatedly says that the Israelites “Waited”. They waited on a Savior, they waited on Jesus. They waited for this Messiah that was going to set them free from the curse of the law. Abraham and Sarah waited. Over and over in the Bible we see people waiting for the Lord and when they wait patiently, there is this great blessing. But what happens when we get impatient? What happened with Abraham, Sarah and Hagar? We try to come up with alternative solutions that circumvent God’s perfect plan for us and in the end it only leaves us miserable and in pain.

So this year I rejoice in knowing that the Lord has something great in store for me whether that is a single life which allows me much more freedom and flexibility or a wife (and kids?) that will allow for more challenges and opportunity to grow. Either way I’m complete in Jesus Christ. This year I’m not looking around for a woman to fill some Holiday void. There are no voids this season. This year I’m focused on Jesus, His birth and His ultimate gift and I wait patiently, but with much anticipation and joy, for his return.

Be blessed this Holiday Season!

-Eddie Renz

Eddie is an avid fan of Lord of the Rings, Adobe Software, Dr. Pepper and Apple products. He is the graphic and web designer for The Hub.

A Hard Candy Christmas

This has possibly been the best and worst year of my life. I turned 35 a few days ago and I’ve never been fatter. I sold my house after having to beg from my friends for money and while I work for myself, few people ever pay me on time.

But I’m not complaining. The best part about being somewhat self-employed is setting your own hours and being your own boss. The problem is, I’ve never been good at telling people what to do, much less myself and so how I’ve managed to pay bills on time and continue a comfortable standard of living has been beyond me.

I guess I am quite blessed. God, despite my incessant sinfulness, has for some reason continued to shower me with favor. I will be on the verge of being homeless and then suddenly I have so much money that I’m giving it away.

But this year has to have been by far the loneliest. When I was in Plano, not living near my friends and family, then feeling alone was to be expected. But now I am surrounded by people that love me, just doors away, but they can’t be with me continually and if they could I probably wouldn’t want that. Instead, I selfishly wish that they could be around to entertain at my beckon call and then vamoose when I’ve had my fill.

Being alone is like being hungry, no matter how much you stuff yourself, you will one day be hungry again.

So yesterday was Christmas Eve and I think it is the first time I’ve ever spent it in solitude. I picked up some barbecue and feasted in front of the television watching reruns of 30 Rock and channel surfing. To lift my spirits I download “Hard Candy Christmas” from Dolly Parton and listened to it on repeat while texting friends and living vicariously through Facebook.

The worst part is that although I don’t want to be alone, I don’t exactly want to be with people either. Being with people means I have to be happy and talking and making polite conversation. If I went to a Christmas Eve Candlelight service I’d be forced to put on some ill-fitting jeans that cut off my circulation from the waist down and stretch a plaid shirt over my large frame like saran wrap over the remains of a turkey.

Once inside the church I’d sing Christmas carols and hope that we could stand all night knowing that sitting down would might snap me in two or pinch me in half – either way, I do not like the idea of being separated from my legs or private parts for that matter and it always frightens me when I see someone in a wheelchair without the aforementioned anatomy.

Standing alongside my family I feel the eyes of my friends staring at me. I imagine them thinking, “Why is Eddie still single?” their lips moving and singing, but no real thought given to the words being sung.  “If he’d lose some weight he could find a nice girl.” Then they look with pride at their own brood as if by somehow having found love and having a handful of kids somehow made them… whole.

When the singing is all done and the food is all eaten and the gifts are unwrapped, I come back home to my apartment, sit in front of my television, pick up my MacBook and start working to drown out the fact that my life is at times, frighteningly pathetic.

I’d like to stop a moment and say that I’m not wallowing in self-pity or despair, just rather making a quick summation of my life. While I get to work with students and do ministry, I have no one to really share my success or joy. My life is not truly challenging because I don’t have someone that sees me for who I really am and then pushes me beyond what I am capable. For the first time in my life I know why God created Eve. While God himself was enough for Adam, he understood that as humans we have a need for someone who is on our own level that further clarifies who God truly is, then he took that one step further with children.

Hey, maybe I’ll dye my hair
Maybe I’ll move somewhere
Maybe I’ll get a car
Maybe I’ll drive so far
They’ll all lose track
Me, I’ll bounce right back

Maybe I’ll sleep real late
Maybe I’ll lose some weight
Maybe I’ll clear my junk
Maybe I’ll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, I’ll be just

Fine and Dandy
Lord it’s like a hard candy Christmas
I’m barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won’t let
Sorrow bring me way down…

The Past Never Goes Away

It’s 7:00 p.m. and we’ve arrived in Arlington at the University of Texas. My sister is about to graduate…

I remember my own college graduation as being anti-climactic. After 7 years of hard work and graduating without any student loans I felt as though there should have been a greater feeling of completion. We went to Good Eats after graduation and that was it.

My sister’s graduation was a little better. There were two parties planned leading up to her graduation and relatives came into town from Oklahoma to help celebrate.

When we walked into the auditorium my real dad was there standing by the aisle in a nice suit and tie. I was expecting to see him there, but I never really know exactly what to say when I am around him. He’s like a second cousin twice removed that looks like an older, shorter, rounder version of me.

I give him a hug and then move to the far end of the row to get me a seat. My step-dad sat in the row in front of me and we laughed and joked and talked and it seemed odd that after so many years that we are desperately close. We laugh at each others jokes and we have fun together, real fun like I have when I am with my buddies.

I looked down the long row and saw my real dad sitting down there next to some of my sister’s friends. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know what to say.

The day before I had seen my real dad at a graduation luncheon. Once again I was at one end of a 35 person table and he was at the other. I was infinitely aware of the distance that separated us both literally and figuratively.

I distracted myself with conversation with my step-dad and a friend of the family Eliana. Eliana has a 1 year old boy who is beautiful and sweet. I held him tightly and pressed his cheeks against mine as he stood on my leg. His warm chubbiness felt like a small piece of forever was sitting their in my grasp and I never wanted to let him go.

I saw my real dad looking at me while I was holding Elijah. I wondered what he thought. I wondered if he had ever held me like this. If my cheeks had pressed to his and if so,  had he felt that feeling that I was feeling at that moment? If he had, how could he have ever let me go?