Tag Archive: kate hurley


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A little eight-year-old girl was asked what she thought love was. She cocked her head and thought for a little bit. Then she replied, “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over to paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis. That’s what love is.” [pg 159, Getting Naked Later]

And with that excerpt, i begin the book review of this most well written and fun book by a friend of mine who i encountered on the internet.

I must have stumbled onto Kate’s blog, the Sexy Celibate, more than a year ago and in fact I might have made the connection through the amazingly worshipful music she writes and sings, but having read something about her being single, I took a chance and asked her if she would perhaps like to write a piece for the Taboo Topics series I was running on Singleness. Taking me totally by surprise she said yes and wrote this very popular piece, some of which may even have made it into her book in some form or another:

Well at times, I feel barren. Not only barren in my childbearing, but barren as a lover as well. I don’t have children or a husband, and so I really have no immediate blood family. Please, please, be sensitive to this barrenness in me. Please don’t tell me that I have done something wrong in not letting go, and the result of that shortcoming is my barrenness.

And we have been friends ever since and so when I heard she had written a book, titled ‘Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed’ I was super amped to see what she had to share about her journey and also what she might have to say to others about theirs. When she asked for some volunteers to read the book and write some reviews, I charged my way to the front flinging single people left and right and di what had to be done in the hope that she would allow me, a married guy [although married at 35 so I still feel I might ‘get’ it], to read and talk about her book:

puss

She completely fell for it:

THE BOOK REVIEW

To be absolutely honest [although I won’t mention names], I was actually already in the middle of reviewing a book on dating when Kate made the offer. The book was fine and all, but it was not really bringing much new to the topic, and knowing Kate the little bit I do, I expected hers to have a certain life and refreshment to it that would keep me interested.

So ‘Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed’ jumped to the head of the queue and I devoured it over the next couple of days [which was in the midst of a fairly busy schedule, but there was something very enticing about Kate’s book and I kept wanting to know what was next] and I was not disappointed.

It starts out with this sweet yet heart-breaking story of Kate playing a game of ‘Old Maid’ with her young friend Isabella. When Isabelle wins the game, she looks at Kate and declares her ‘The Old Maid’ and more importantly, the loser.

“Am I the loser?” Kate asked herself and so begins this journey that at times is light and fun and skippy [can a book be skippy? if it can then Kate nails it!], but at other times deals with the raw and the rough, real and honest, angry and confused emotions and experiences of a 30 plus year old who discovered she was single a lot longer than she thought she might be and is trying to make sense of life and love and God and relationships and unrealised dreams.

In her opening chapter she invites the world’s single people into her story: I am writing this book for all of you. I want you to feel validated. I want you to know that you’re not alone. And most of all, I want you to believe that you are deeply valuable. I hope that we can walk down the road toward discovering our value together.

What I love about the start of the book and how Kate follows through with it, is that she begins with a list of ‘I am nots’ with things like ‘going to give you a formula to find the perfect mate’ and ‘tell you that the answer is to be satisfied in God alone’ or ‘promise that God will give us the desires of our heart’ and more, but instead, she writes this:

I want married people and the church at large to have a better understanding of what singles and divorced people go through so that they can better support us. I want to look at the unique challenges Christian singles face and to explore some of the unhealthy perspectives of the Christian culture when it comes to dating.’

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND THE PAINT BY NUMBERS

There ARE a lot of books on Singleness and for me what makes Kate’s stand out is the amount of herself she throws into ‘Getting Naked Later’. More than simply writing a ‘How to’ book with theories, formulas and excuses Kate opens the door to her life and invites the reader to join her on part of the journey she has walked and is walking which doesn’t as yet have the Disney happy ending of ‘She found her prince’ if that is the sign of success we are looking for. But along the way she does share lessons she has learned and struggles she has endured as she moves forward on her journey of hope. Possibly the biggest shout out that this book gives goes something along the lines of ‘Hey, you are not alone in this. I get a lot of what you’re going through. Let me share some of mine.’ 

I think there is something in here for everyone but it will particularly stroke a chord with those single people who are a little older and perhaps in some ways feeling like [or being made to feel like by the ‘extremely sensitive’ people around them] they have missed out on something. This piece Kate writes on ‘disenfranchised grief’ for example was a huge eye-opener:

One of the only articles I found that did talk about the difficulty of being single was called “My Secret Grief: Over Thirty-Five, Single and Childless” by Melanie Notkin. In it, the author says, “This type of grief, grief that is not accepted or that is silent, is referred to as disenfranchised grief. It’s the grief you don’t feel allowed to mourn, because your loss isn’t clear or understood. You didn’t lose a sibling or a spouse or a parent. But losses that others don’t recognise can be as powerful as the kind that is socially acceptable.

This sadness, this disenfranchised grief, is what I feel on a semi-regular basis. I have not lost a marriage, but I have never had a lover. I have not lost a baby, but I have never had a child.

Boom! Right between the eyes. And there are a fair number of moments like these.

SOME FINAL MOMENTS OF A VERY INCOMPLETE REVIEW

You can tell how much I enjoy a book I read by the amount of folded over corner tops of pages I want to go back to or paragraphs which really impacted me and ‘Getting Naked Later’ has so many of those I can’t even pretend to HOPE TO cover all of them [that would be a long blog post even by my standards!] here. But I will share a few gems as I sign off [and you really should get hold of a copy and read it for yourself, cos I feel like there is something for everyone to take away:

In a chapter looking at Hollywood movie romances, Kate nails the problem on the head: It would be wise for us to recognise our disease of loneliness and realise that getting married will not cure that disease.

I don’t think Kate is trying to suggest that loneliness is like a sickness, but she is trying to suggest that often, as single people [which I was til age 35!] we tend to get into a head space of thinking that just finding ‘our person’ will solve a whole bunch of issues in our life, when the truth is that we will tend to take those same issues with us into marriage.

Kate shows insight into the married life she has yet to experience, as evidenced in this quote: If I do get married, my husband will love me more than he loves anyone else in the world. He will also probably hurt me more than anyone else in the world will hurt me. I will think there is no one as wonderful as him anywhere. I will also think that there is no one as annoying as him. My job will not be to judge if he is good enough for me. My job will be to love him well.We will build a history together.

Getting Naked Later is also great because it covers such a range of topics – Kate dares to boldly share her take on sex while holding nothing back in her in-depth description of the pity party singles love to throw for themselves [or groups of themselves]

In her chapter titled, ‘The Great Name Changer’ she reminds us of the power labels can play in our lives by saying, ‘I am many things other than a single woman: lover of God, lover of people, traveler of the world, teacher, lover of the poor and downcast, avid reader, overcomer of a chronic disease, ridiculous enjoyer of dark chocolate and good cheese, lover of nature, worshipper, but “single” is often the only label I give myself.

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Very importantly this is the story of a woman who is already in a relationship and an important one at that. Kate’s relationship with God is the thread that weaves itself through this book and holds everything together, although not always in a way that feels nicely coloured in within the lines. This singleness thing can get messy and Kate does not hold back from the honesty and sometimes pain that is involved in that aspect of her life. One encounter she has with a mentor of hers who told her:

“Kate, I want you to focus on trusting God for the next few months.”

“I sounded like a recovering Pharisee when I said, “But I do trust God.”

She answered very gently, “No, Kate. No, you don’t.”

I realised almost automatically that she was right. The anxiety that I had just spilled out to her indicated how little I trusted Him. When it comes down to it, I don’t always see Him as good. In my heart, I often don’t believe that God will give me a good life. Sometimes I believe that even if He is good, I will negate His blessings if I don’t make the right choices.” 

And there you have it – you won’t find honesty like that in the ‘Ten tips to finding your perfect Christian man’ book that is front and centre on your local christian bookstore relationship shelf.

But again and again, it is the stark honesty and gentle humour and vulnerability that brings a wave of refreshment with ‘Getting Naked Later’ and that is what will draw you in and keep you invested as you read this part of Kate’s story. This is a worthwhile addition to your bedside table reading material and I encourage you to grab hold of a copy now.

I will leave you with one last quote that sums up a big part of Kate’s attitude as she faces a present that doesn’t look exactly like the future she once imagined and expected, from her chapter on intentional community, but reaching even beyond that:

‘It is good for u to be in a family, even if we have to build our own.’

[To buy your very own copy of ‘Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed, click here]

[For more information about Kate Hurley and links to everything you need to get hold of, click here]

[To listen to her music and get hold of some copies for yourself and your friends, click here]

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so according to wordpress stats, these are the 5 most visited posts of mine this last quarter which means people must have liked them [or really hated them i guess, altho i don’t think i’ve had one of those for a while – must be doing something wrong] so i thought i’d display them here in case you missed one or more of them:

First up there was Kate Hurley sharing on Singleness which always gets a lot of views – her alias being The Sexy Celibate no doubt helped a little

Next up was another guest post, this time in my ‘One Way To Love Your Spouse Better’ series by the always delightful and depthful Dalene Reyburn

Then there was one actually by me with a simple explanation of the two times that i feel it’s permissible for you to leave South Africa

The next most popular blog featured the Did-Joel-Osteen-resign-from-Christianity-or-was-it-a-Hoax [and even if he did, how do we respond] saga.

Then there was the true life drama excitement of Valerie trying to fly out of South Africa actually wearing her wedding ring which was discovered to be missing, presumed drowned, just an hour or so before she had to be on the plane…

And this? Oh this is just a link to a picture of a pair of flip flops/slip slops that look like fish [so don’t click on it, you can’t get those thirteen seconds of your life back. oh man, now you’re going to, hey? don’t say i didn’t warn you.]

Married? Single? Other?

My friend Jess is a beautiful, single blonde girl who has been a missionary in Italy for 10 years and is the same age as me. One day, an Italian woman, let’s call her Mamma Carmen, came up to her with a little charm necklace that had a picture of a saint on it.

“What’s this?” asked Jess.
(Cue in accent of Italian mama who doesn’t speak much English)
“A necklace for you. A picture of Saint Anthony. “
“Who is Saint Anthony?”
“Is-a- the patron saint of lost-a things.”
“And what have I lost, Mama Carmen?”
“Oh, you know sveetie. “
“No I don’t know. What is that I have lost?”
“You lost-a your husband.”
“Mama Carmen, isn’t that usually the saint you pray to for a lost sock or car keys-things like that?”
“Yes, but not for you. For you, pray to him for husband. More important than sock.”

Mama Carmen’s Formula:

“Lost Husband + Praying to Patron Saint of Lost Things + Ten Hail Marys= 1 wedding, 5 socks, 2 spoons, and 1 bracelet you thought you gave to your friend Jill.”

I had my own formula concocting conversation with a ministry leader of mine a few years back. Let’s call her Emily. The conversation looked like this:

“Kate, do you remember our babysitter Joann? Well, she went through a season of really struggling with being single like you are going through. She cried and battled and finally brought her burden to the Lord. She let go.

Two weeks later, she met her husband. And he looks just like Ryan Gosling. “

I said,”Emily, I am really happy for Joann. But she is twenty freaking years old.”

“So? What does that have to do with anything?”

I respected and loved this leader, but I just couldn’t brush the comment off this time.

I said “I have had a decade longer than her of wrestling with God over this issue. In all my wrestling, I have had several seasons where I have been content as a single person, embracing the thought of God as my husband. But often, those seasons fade, and I’m struggling again. It is a cycle that happens. I don’t think God laughs at my cycles of frustration. I think he understands. I think He wants to meet me there. “

Emily continued to argue with me, saying that I just needed to let go, insinuating that it was my own fault that I was still single.

I said, “Em, please understand me here. If you had a friend who was not getting pregnant or who was having multiple miscarriages, someone who had been struggling with barrenness for fifteen years, would you say to her ‘If you just trusted the Lord more with your barrenness, he would give you a baby?’ You would never say that! You recognize how much she is mourning that loss, and so you careful with her words. You don’t want to hurt her even more by making her feel like it might be her own fault.

Well at times, I feel barren. Not only barren in my childbearing, but barren as a lover as well. I don’t have children or a husband, and so I really have no immediate blood family. Please, please, be sensitive to this barrenness in me. Please don’t tell me that I have done something wrong in not letting go, and the result of that shortcoming is my barrenness.”

I know that sounds pretty heavy, but it is how many of us feel at times.

In the very thick book of popular theology that is not actually in the Bible, a book I like to call “First Assumptions” , we have this formula:

“Not letting go=being single.
Letting go= being married. “

Most singles I have talked to have had this formula given to them in one way or another. Many of them dozens of times. Almost every time I mention writing my book on singleness, single people give me some kind of version of this story.

Most of us, when we first heard this formula as a young person, grabbed our journal and bible and went to a quiet place. We turned our sweet young faces to heaven with tears in our eyes and said “Lord, I let go. I give my husband to you.”

Do you know why we were saying this? Because we wanted a husband. And according to the formula, if you wanted a husband, you had to let go of him first. So we were letting go of him in order to get him.

Quite ironic, isn’t it?

But as years passed, when that formula didn’t work, we started cringing when someone told us we just needed to let go. We couldn’t put our finger on why it irked something deep inside of us, but it did.

I have a theory about why it frustrates us so much. At the root of this formula is the idea that all single people have done something wrong and all married people have done something right. Married people, I know you probably never meant to make us feel that way, but it is the nature of that formula.

It kind of reminds me of the story of Job. Here is the formula we can get out of his story.

“Tragically losing everything+wife that is pissed+hideous boils all over your body+annoying friends telling you that you must have done something wrong to deserve this+being totally frustrated and not getting why you’re going through this+God’s booming voice telling us humans that we don’t know nothing and He doesn’t fit in our formulas and boxes+ praising God even through horrible circumstances and singing “Blessed Be Your Name” = even more stuff than you had before.”

Sound familiar? (Except for the boils part, hopefully.) That story is one of the oldest in the bible. One of it’s lessons? Don’t make formulas. Meet Him, wrestle with Him, praise Him even when you don’t understand, but never, ever, put Him in a box.

As Donald Miller said, “As much as we want to believe we can fix out lives in about as many steps as it takes to make a peanut-butter sandwich, I don’t believe we can.”

My married friend Becca, who is incredibly dear to me, explained to me that married people don’t often have bad motives in their formula making. She said that when human beings don’t understand something, they make formulas. They want to feel like they are giving their friend some control over the situation. They even make their own life journeys into formulas. Sometimes we singles cling to the formulas given to us because we want some control over the situation as well.

I really appreciate that we had this conversation because it reminded me that married people are not the enemy. They love us.

But out of love, I want our married friends to understand why these formulas are so hard for us to hear.

These formulas makes us feel like our being single has nothing to do with God’s will or our choices or the enemy or any other theory you have on why hard things happen.

It has to do with our lack.

We already struggle with feeling like we lack when we wonder why we haven’t been chosen. Please don’t cut that wound deeper.

This formula also makes us feel like our not being married has to do with our relationship with the Lord, which evidently is wanting.

For most of us, our relationship with the Lord is the most sacred one that we have. Please, please, don’t criticize that relationship as well. Don’t tear down the one relationship where we feel loved and accepted. Even if you mean well, just don’t do it.

I think a good rule of thumb for both parties is to do less formula making and pat- answering and do more listening. Listening to what the Lord has to say, and listening to each others journeys with compassion.

Restrain yourselves from formulas. But don’t restrain yourselves from giving each other a hug. We probably both need one.

Be encouraged that we all have our own journey, and that all of our journeys our valid.

[Kate Hurley writes a blog called ‘The Sexy Celibate’ which you can read here. Among other things she is a singer, songwriter, worship leader, writer, and teacher and has contributed worship to Enter the Worship Circle. I also encourage you to head over to her website and sample some of her music.]

[To read the Singleness story of my friend Kate Sherry, click here]

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