Curing the grumpiness with a run

Today, for the third week in a row, I went to the lovely lunchtime service at St Margaret Lothbury. It’s designed for folk with limited time. It combines worship, prayer and teaching in a way that means one can stay for 45 minutes or one song and still feel like you’ve had moment in an oasis of calm. I started going in 2006 (gosh) but in the last year, enquiry desk shifts meant I rarely managed to escape in time. However, my new job offers a smidgen more flexibility.

Anyway. Great worship, except for one ridiculous song I refused to sing (“Nothing’s gonna hold me back?” Er, well, I can think of several things that do, in fact, hold me back). Very short talk – and some very non-Anglican prayer for City, country and financial stability. There is usually an opportunity for prayer. Today I was brave enough to take the walk up to the front of the church to ask for someone to pray with me. Jeremy’s talk had focused on asking ourselves what it is that is holding us back. I know what this is in my case. It’s the utter confusion, despair and abandonment I feel about my state of ‘blessed singleness.’ I’m not always ranting at God in terms of ‘find me a partner’ – most of the time I want to know why life is as it is; and if this is it, what’s the reason why? What is the point of me being here, exactly? (Suspect quite often it’s to be a terrible warning to others!)

So… I asked for prayer to help me get over this particular lump of loneliness. What I got was scripture quoted at me, and several solutions (‘don’t be so fussy,’ ‘pick a strong man,’ ‘wait and God will fulfill your heart’s desire.’) In fact, my pray-er talked so long my relative youth (I’m 38, compared to her late fifties) and how I shouldn’t be worrying, I had to leave to go back to the office. Before so much as an ‘Our Father.’

I felt really angry, and humiliated by this. I didn’t need or want advice about trusting God to show me the way. What I had wanted was powerful prayer to help me deal not with the actual issue per se but the consequences: the stumbling block it puts in the way of my lopsided, unsure, limp-a-long-a-God. I went back to the office feeling completely demoralised. Then I tweeted about it, and lovely people were lovely. That helped

When I got home, I went for a 5-and-a-bit mile run, including a long, horrid, boring hill. I hate that particular hill, but because I hate it, I can attack it when I am angry. It was a great run, during which I composed some of this blog post, and ran away the grumpiness. That helped more, and I am going to bed calmly.


  1. Re your second para – there is an old New Yorker cartoon which I cut out and pasted in my commonplace book – psychiatrist says to pretty but dumb blonde: ‘Look, honey, any neuroses you got left, you’re gonna need!’ –
    As you say, most of us need something to hold us back.
    You know Wendy Cope, I’m sure – ‘bloody men are like bloody buses’?
    Er, that’s it.
    [Well, personally I like gloomy poetry – ‘Dover Beach’ anyone? – but that might just depress you further.]
    Thinking of you…

  2. *hugs* I’m glad the run and the post composition helped to dispel the grumpiness. 🙂

    Having revised this comment repeatedly and each time failed to come up with something that doesn’t sound phenomenally sanctimonious, tactless, or inappropriate when coming from a complete stranger (or all of the above), I’ll just say this:

    My 33-and-single-and-not-entirely-sure-what-I’m-supposed-to-be-here-for-either self is wearing my (sincere) ‘I hear you, sister’ face and sending hugs and sympathy and prayers – I pray that the stumbling block is removed and that your limp-a-long becomes a little smoother and easier.

    And since I’m posting this in the middle of the night when all sane and sensible people are asleep instead of commenting on blogs and thinking how much they’ll hate their alarm clocks in five hours’ time … I hope that by the time you actually get to read this, the grumpiness is still far away.

    (And also hoping that I haven’t put my foot in it and joined the well-meaning-but-tactless brigade by butting in and going all serious and prayerful.)

    • Catherine, thank you – not a trace of well meaning but tactless. The kindness of people today has been truly humbling and inspiring.

  3. I’m sorry you ended up in that situation. I have had friends who have gone for prayer or counsel and had exactly the same thing happen. It’s frustrating and I think when you have certain issues, people praying for you can jump to conclusions about what you ‘need’, which often isn’t right at all.

    PS I compose a lot of blog posts while running – it’s a good time to think 🙂

  4. Thank you for having the courage to blog on this. I’m 39, unmarried, childless, and unhappy about this. Sometimes feel humiliated by God, left behind and without direction. Perhaps life is more random than I have been encouraged to believe. Unfortunately running doesn’t do it for me either! Sorry, I can’t really offer encouragement; only solidarity.

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