The theme this week at Velvet Ashes was “Serving Single.” This post originally appeared as the final post of the week.

The seed of this article was planted around March 14. If you record March 14th as 3/14 it’s Pi Day. You know π as in 3.141592. . . I’m a Pi Day nut and have blogged about why I love PiPi songsPi jokesPi cartoons, and even Pi-ku. Have I mentioned I love π? This year, I began to wonder what other mathematical constructs might offer insights beyond dear Pi.

Do you remember absolute value? The part of math that uses the vertical lines? |-3| and |+3| both equal 3. If this is making you twitch, I get it, I do. But this won’t get too complicated. Absolute value is basically asking how far away a number is from 0 (zero). So, whether you are -3 or +3 you are 3 away from 0, the center of the number line.

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Putting God in the center (so, not saying he’s a zero, but you get my point), what does absolute value add to our discussion of serving single? 

|+ Serving Single| and |-Serving Single| still equal Serving Single.

Whether you are single, married, have children, or don’t have children, to a certain extent every one of us serves single. There comes a point where it’s just

  • |You and God| or
  • |You and this teammate| or
  • |You and this part of the culture| or
  • |You and this part of your organization| or
  • |You and this child| or
  • |You and loneliness| or
  • |You and longing| or
  • |You and body image| or
  • |You and food| or
  • |You and joy|

Whether you see yourself as |-single| or |+loneliness| or |-married| {meaning that your marriage stinks and their marriage is what you want}, the beauty of absolute value is it shifts the focus from your state (single, lonely, married) to the orientation to 0 (God).

I fear this might come across as sticking a Christian bow on areas carrying pain. The heart of this post isn’t “just look to God and be absolutely happy!” What I love about |absolute value theology – which I just made up| is there is still place to honor the state.

|+Single| and |-single| or |+longing| and |-longing| are equally valid, without one being better than the other. Absolute Value can handle positives or negatives because it doesn’t really care about positives or negatives. I think we are prone to think |+| > |-| . . . or using my words, we are prone to think positives are better than negatives, confusing “enjoyable” with “better than.”

Is |+single| (meaning I’m not overly wrestling with this state currently) more “fun” than when I’m all stirred up? Sure. But fun and better than are two different questions.

We’ve all had times where |- part of the culture| is churning up our souls so much it hurts. Hurts. We can’t sleep, we agonize over what to do, is it our place to do anything? Or |+ part of the culture| where we see a slice of God we could not have seen from our shore. A part of us blossoms and we know we are on holy ground.

If positive and negative are the wrong words to ask, I also don’t want to give the impression that |absolute value theology| is about being as close to God as possible. We are going to have times where we feel distant or lost. This doesn’t mean you’ve sinned or done anything wrong.

Instead, the heart of |absolute value theology| is this:

  • Where do I see God? (How am I oriented to 0? Can I see him in this state?)
  • Can I be honest about my state? (Am I – or +?)
  • Do I believe that God can handle my state or do I feel I need to somehow fix it?
  • We’re not talking about sin. |-Stealing| and |+stealing| is still stealing. We’re talking about non-sin, messy, glorious, hard, life.

Circling back to the theme of this week, serving single, this is one for all of us. As much as we are rooted in relationships, teams, and communities, sometimes, it’s just |You and God|.

Whether you are single or married what encourages you as |You and God Serve Single|? What have been unexpected challenges? Unexpected blessings?

Leave A Comment

  1. Debbie Marshall August 7, 2015 at 6:13 am - Reply

    Compelling use of the concept. I finished the article quickly and am still thinking about it as I leave for work at 0515. Gives yhat leading 0 just a bit more meaning. Thanks Amy

    • Avatar photo
      Amy August 7, 2015 at 11:34 am - Reply

      Thanks Debbie :) … or is that yhanks? JK!

  2. Debbie Marshall August 7, 2015 at 6:16 am - Reply

    That … not yhat

  3. Susan Gaines August 7, 2015 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I love the logic and theology of this article, and I’m a math idiot. I’m sharing this on Facebook and emailing the site to a few friends & family.

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