“It’s easy for you,” and other excuses

Last night I attended the second in a series of Lent evenings at my home church in Colchester. These are based around Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Last night we talked about the Hill of Difficulty, Mr Legality and Mr Worldy Wise and the applicability of the old laws to us as Christians. It was an interesting session and I found myself reflecting on it today.

One of the topics covered was covetousness/ other gods before God. Now, normally, when I am in a nice middle class church and people start telling me that it’s bad to covet a big house, clothes and suchlike I experience a massive rise in cynicsm. Yes, I say to myself. It’s all very well for you to tell me that aspiring to own my home, or not wear charity shop clothes, or have an actual holiday, or a partner… those are things you might take for granted. It’s easy for someone who already has those things to tell the rest of the world not to want them or mind about not having them, as they go home to their family and their home. “Yes,” they say, “it must be hard living on your own,” as they then tell me how busy they are with their family so sharing a meal together is out of the question (either not asking me, or not accepting my invitation). Sorry, got a bit ranty there.

Untangling it further, I think that the cynicism comes from seeing those with the relationships/ material success as those that are blessed by God, those that are definitely in the camp of His Chosen Ones. My faith took a terrible knock when a relationship that I – and a few others – thought was a prayer answered, turned out badly (he dumped me twice and then took 3 months to decide if he had made a mistake the second time). It’s taken me a long time to get over that disappointment. Forgave the chap in question ages ago (well, sort of, I still think he’s a spineless idiot) but have probably yet to ‘forgive’ God…Having seen people around me pray, marry and procreate in matters of months whilst I was still on my own, I had really finally thought that meeting a fellow beer-drinking Christian who understood my PhD was the point when it was ‘my turn’ for a blessing. But no. I’m still unconvinced that I am meant to be doing this Christianity thing – maybe I’m only here by accident…

Then I pondered a bit further today. If the start of my objection is, “It’s easy for you to tell me about how close you are to God, it’s easy for you because you have [thing],” is what I am really saying, “It would be easier for me have a better relationship with God if I also had [similar thing]?” That my excuse for being too busy, or too preoccupied, or too not-trusting is because I don’t have a whole range of things to keep me busier or more occupied elsewhere? Surely I should be the one having it easy – I am in charge of my own time, and if I want to get up at 3am and pray for hours, or go wave flags on a hillside as worship, or fast for Lent then I only have to please myself about what I do. (For the record the first two are *extremely* unlikely to ever happen).

So what *is* my excuse? Why is it that I don’t take advantage of my ability to manage my own time…? Once again, answers on a postcard…


  1. Rings a bell, well actually, a whole church tower of bells… And it’s only a small step from cynicism to bitterness, I find in all of that.

  2. It’s particularly fun when the same people who have [thing] point out and share with others my “bitterness”.

    I don’t truly appreciate my lack of [thing]…but I’m trying to live with that in the best way possible, to make sure that my life is full and fulfilling even in the face of the lack.

    It’s also pretty easy for them to assume I’m bitter and assign me that label since that would likely be their own default reaction should THEIR life ever encounter lack of [thing]. I think there’s such a lot of relief when they notice my life of lack (“Can you even imagine?? I’m so thankful God has richly blessed me and I don’t have to live like that!”)

    • Nancy – your last sentence hits the nail on the head. But again I’m sad there’s someone else who understands this.

      I think too that there’s an assumption that living on your own=lonely. You know the place I feel loneliest is not at home on my own, but in the middle of a church.

  3. “You know the place I feel loneliest is not at home on my own, but in the middle of a church.” –> THAT hits the nail on its very head. (Or maybe I should add in the middle of a church service)

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