Conclusion (or: Learning to Cook Vegan): Christianity and Singleness Part 7

18 February 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

This may come a surprise, but I’m a really good cook.

No; seriously.

My training falls under the broad headline of “forced culinary experimentation.” Being dirt poor, I’ve often had to be creative in what ingredients I can mix and combine to make a good meal (btw, you can make a good, well-balanced meal for only about $0.75…so beat that).

But my area of specialty is what one might call “faux ethnic cuisine.” Not only do I make the best Tacos this far north of Mexico, but my spicy Asian stir-fry is the biggest threat to Asian dining chains since Godzilla. Move over, P.F. Chang; make way for C-Dub’s gourmet food chains.

Being poor, however, often limits the number and quality of ingredients you can add to your dish. Frozen vegetables can be stretched, but sometimes my wallet’s a bit too thin to thaw out chicken to throw in there.

So, without really intending to, I’ve learned to cook vegan. And it can be really, really good. I’ve found myself surprised at what the simple addition of a few cashews and pineapple can do (maybe I need to start one of those recipe blogs and exchange comments with all the soccer moms…or not).

I cook vegan by necessity. I’m not, as Jerry Seinfeld would put it, “one of those” (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Here’s where the story coalesces to a neat little blog-friendly package: sometimes learning to do without something can be a very rewarding experience.

A SINGLE KIND OF LIFE

My hesitation in writing on this subject is simple; I simply don’t want to get stuck with some kind of label, or relegated to some weird status of spokesman for the single, Christian twenty-somethings. At the same time, I have received oodles of feedback on what a necessary subject this is. So while this post is intended to serve as a conclusion, I certainly don’t mean that this is the final word on the issue.

The truth is I have no desire to stay single forever; I really do want to get married. But I also recognize that doing without is also an important part of life’s journey, one that I am thankful for…at least half the time.

Rather than try to assimilate paragraphs worth of advice, I’m simply leaving you with a semi-random list of concluding thoughts, which you should interpret more as anecdotes than actual advice.

  1. It’s not as big a deal as you think. Don’t get hung up on the high-pressure, hyperspiritualized nature of the dating scene. It will only cause more stress and lay down bitter roots that will only germinate in the form of despair.
  2. Don’t listen to stereotypes. Not all single guys are momma’s boys, and not all single girls are crazy cat ladies. Learn to deal with people as they are, not as what you think they should be.
  3. Don’t let them get you down. At the same time, remember that as you age, you will find yourself the target of increased stereotyping. Regardless of the opportunities of service the single life offers, guys will routinely be cast as non-committal video game junkies, and women will be more likely be seen as Cruella de Ville than Mother Teresa. Don’t let them get you down.
  4. Learn to differentiate between loneliness and solitude. If you can’t be by yourself without the TV, computer or iPod, it could easily be that you’ve never learned to be comfortable with yourself. It’s ok, though, we’re all a little broken, here. But there remains a very real need to cultivate times of intentional solitude and silence, disciplines long lost on a culture of billboards and internet pop-up ads.
  5. Seek community. Connection with others is key. Loneliness can never be cured through dating, unless you happen to like clingy, codependent relationships. Spending time with other people can also be a valuable way to find fulfillment in one’s single life.
  6. Exercise. Our bodies are extremely important, both at the level of our muscles and tissue, as well as at the biochemical level. Exercise not only keeps us disciplined about taking care of our health, but has been shown to improve our emotional well-being.
  7. Do something. Get involved. Find a hobby. Paint a picture. Anything. Exercising the creative gifts is a vital component of our lives, so don’t waste time on Farmville.
  8. Laugh easily. Life’s too short to get wrapped up in the soul-smothering religiosity of certain segments of American Christianity. It’s ok to be vulnerable. No one can ever judge you for smiling. So go ahead.

Thanks to those of you who read my blog regularly, have made comments, or sat down over coffee (or tea, for us non-coffee drinkers) during times when I’ve felt kicked around. I look forward to many more conversations to come. God bless.

18 February 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Chris is a writer and speaker. He currently serves as teaching pastor at Tri-State Fellowship and as a research writer for Docent Research Group.

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