Monday, December 17, 2007

he never came

I opened a can of worms the other day when I wrote that women can change their own light bulbs. Codepoke responded,
    Of course the main thing for unmarried guys is we no longer have any reason to change the light bulb.
Here is a story, which I heard Elizabeth Elliot recount in one of her sermons, about Gladys Aylward.
    She had been a missionary in China for six or seven years before she ever thought of wanting a husband. When a British couple came to work near her, she began to watch the wonderful thing they had in marriage, and to desire it for herself. Being a woman of prayer she prayed - a straightforward request that God would call a man from England, send him straight to China, and have him propose. She leaned toward me on the sofa on which we were sitting, her black eyes snapping, her bony little forefinger jabbing at my face. " Elizabeth," she said, " I believe God answer prayer! He called him." Then, in a whisper of keen intensity, "but he never came."
This story is written verbatim, in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, as Elliot preach it at Urbana in 1981. There are many other stories in this introduction which you can read online in google books. I knew some of the people mentioned here and all the stories of single missionaries, both men and women, who longed to be part of a couple, are familiar to me.

I do not believe that men and women need each other because women want babies, or because men put furniture together and women cook. I believe that the reason why men and women get together has been the same forever, because of loneliness. Few people really want to be alone. I don't actually know any that do.

However, as this chapter makes clear, and we all know, (and because my matchmaking skills are in the negative values), many of us will remain single. Therefore, we all need close and warm friendships, people around us, both those who appreciate us and care for us, and those who we mentor or provide for. Feeling that someone cares for you goes a long way, showing that you care for others is essential.

Someone brought me a plate of homemade choc. chip cookies today. The fact that I don't actually like choc. chip cookies is irrelevant. I appreciate the fact that someone cares.


J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for letting us hear preacher Elizabeth Elliot on missionary Gladys Aylward.

And thanks for sharing your thoughts (more than choc. chip cookies):

I believe that the reason why men and women get together has been the same forever, because of loneliness.

Yes, often partnership between two, but also deep unions in family, among friends, in community, in society, and some on the internet.

Peter Kirk said...

Thanks, Suzanne. What can I say? Except that I feel like Gladys Aylward must have done. But I have more close friendships now than for most of my life. And I love chocolate chip cookies!

Kevin Knox said...

I couldn't comment without changing the lightbulb first.

Excellent post, and a very powerful introduction from Pyper and biography of Ms. Aylward. And amen to each of your thoughts about friendship, marriage, and caring for others. Spot on.


Suzanne McCarthy said...

I think giving a gift of food is something that is ungendered. I appreciate the fact that the cookies were baked by a professor who had some left over after a soccer game and he gave them to me because now I am a single mom. f course, my kids ate them.

My point would be simply that kindness is ungendered.

Kevin Knox said...

And now we get back to your last post's point.

I fixed the wiring in a lady's house down the street. Replacing the bulbs was not working, so she asked me to look at it. No big deal. Voltage was good at the switch, so I took apart the fixture. I bumped a wire, and the lights came on. I killed the electricity to the wires, reconnected them firmly, and reassembled everything. 20 minutes tops, and an hour worth of friendly chatter.

She is a white collar worker, and more than competent, but I've played a little more with electricity.

She made me dinner, and I enjoyed it. She sent some home in tupperware, and I enjoyed that too. But my ex raised me to believe you never send tupperware home empty, so I sent home some of my home-made macaroni and (swiss???) cheese and a biscuit.

Zing. Now I'm all insecure. Who makes macaroni and cheese with swiss? And who even eats heavy-duty whole wheat biscuits any more? Yeah, I cook, but it's decidedly bachelor fare. If it plops, I'm fine with it. Nothing I cook compares to the Beef Wellington I received. She'll at least get a good chuckle.

[My line will be, "You're looking good today. I guess you thought better of eating the macaroni?]

Kindness is not gendered, but many things are.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

First, I should admit right here and now that one of my favourite foods is macaroni and cheese. When I was little my mother did not believe in serving pasta. So for my birthday, I would ask for macaroni and cheese. It was the only time during the year that it was served.

My problem is that I am not a great cook, so I would not want to get my electrical needs handled by cooking a meal in return. However, it could be that I simply have too little experience being single. I have just seen the last of the five handy guys who redid my bathrooms but they were paid for that job.

However, the furnace man, the cable man and the gas man are all women. The person who helps me with my car's mechanical difficulties is also a woman.

I think if I ran into a problem that I couldn't tackle myself, I would a) call my neighbour, (a woman) and b) call a tradesperson.

But maybe I should rethink this. ;-)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I have the year wrong. I don't think Elliot spoke in 1981 but I am not sure which year it was.