Welcome. And I’m Sorry.

I never wanted to start this blog. Even now as I’m getting my blog on, I wish I wasn’t. I hate that I am because I hate that I can. To be in my 30’s and still single was not part of the plan. And even as the years kept approaching like no suitable man ever has, I kept hoping against hope that this phase (Dear God, it is just a phase, right?!) was going to end any minute now. But it never did yet. So here we are. Single as ever. I mean, I know I am and since you’re reading this, I assume you are too. So…

Hello! Welcome. And also: I’m sorry. Because you have obviously reached one of three points:

  1. It’s not funny anymore. And maybe you’re suffering a little bit or feel that you may be about to. So you wandered over here in the hope of finding some answers or “aha moments” or helpful hints to help you either be okay with being single (if that’s how it has to be), or, much more preferably, teach you something that will totally flip the switch and end the drought. Or…
  2. You actually have no business being here. You’re younger than 27 and/or married and you just can’t let us have this one place of peace and quiet away from your incessant whining about all your non problems. You are the worst. Get out of here.* Or…
  3. Your well-meaning friend/mother/aunt/married younger sibling heard about this new site for older Christian singles and immediately thought of you. He/She sent you the link with a “thumbs up” emoji and if they really love you, a sweet little note that said “For while you wait.” Or some variation of that. Don’t be mad. They mean well. And they actually did you a solid.

However you ended up here, this blog is written and (wo)manned by a veteran of singleness, a prisoner of war, if you will. I wish I could say that I’ll be telling you how to win the war or how to truly love the way that you’re losing it, but I can’t. I won’t. Because if I knew how to do either of those things, I wouldn’t be here.

The truth, as you already know, is that it’s an ebb-and-flow kind of situation. Some days it’s fine, you don’t even think about it. You’re just living your life and loving that you can go an entire winter without shaving your legs or anything else. But then all of sudden something will upset the balance. Could be something big like a friend getting engaged. Or something small like seeing a couple on the subway. Or even smaller like seeing two cookies that have run together on the baking sheet and thinking “Even these cookies found someone!” Whatever it is that sends you into the spiral of hopelessness and despair that leaves you listening to Adele and reactivating that Eharmony profile (not that there’s anything wrong with that) this blog is just to let you know that you’re not alone… well, I mean, you are, but not in the cosmic sense. So if you feel like you’re spiraling, or just about to – go on.

I’ll meet you at the bottom.

* Dear under 27s and marrieds: All bans and restrictions have been lifted. You are still kinda the worst, but you can stay. 

In The End

I honestly have no idea what brought Brooke Fraser to mind. But for some reason, I found myself looking up her music this morning, adding “Albertine” to my offline music downloads. And tripping out on the realization that album is ten years old. (Almost eleven!) Released in 2007 and tied to some memories that I can recall better than I can remember last week.

I was living in Australia back then. And part of the church that she was part of. And I remember her playing a song off the new album during a service – just her and her guitar. And I remember thinking “Hmm. I wonder what it’ll sound like when it’s done.” And then experiencing the done version with a full band and video backing at the women’s conference that year. And being blown away. It was an exquisitely well-produced experience of a great song from a great album. An album named after a Rwandan orphan Brooke had met in her travels… her Compassion child, was it? I can’t remember that part clearly and I may be mixing up Hillsong sponsored things. Anyway, as that song (track #5 on the album) started to play this morning, I remembered the origin story of the song and I felt a flash of panic. This is a song written ten years ago about a Rwandan orphan, by a white Kiwi-slash-honorary-Australian, wonderful and easy-going people who are not particularly known for their racial sensitivity. So I braced myself for the possibility of losing another thing in the fire of “well that didn’t age well”. But it was fine. Still a moving call to action. Which made me sad in a different way.

“Now that I have seen, I am responsible.
Faith without deeds is dead.”

That’s the hook and the primary message of “Albertine” – Responsibility. Once the excuse of not knowing is stripped away, deeds are proof. Of sight. Of growth. Of change. Of life. Brooke had seen the aftermath of the genocide that had taken place in Rwanda, some ten years before her visit, and felt the weight of the storyteller: to tell the story.  And so she did. And she wasn’t the only one, there was a lot of concerted effort at that time to help the people of Rwanda, to rally the world to restore hope there. And God bless everyone who took part. Who took on bits of the responsibility. But I do remember a quiet question being asked from quiet corners: What about the Aborigines? There was an undercurrent of cynicism about the willingness of so many Australians to restore hope in Rwanda in the light of their unwillingness to confront the harm done in their own country. And as an outsider with no skin in either game – Rwanda or Australia – I kind of felt like help is help and a rising tide lifts all boats and all in good time. And all of that. I understood where the murmurs were coming from and I got it, but I didn’t get it.

Now I do.

Do you know what the best kind of responsibility is? The optional kind. The ones what we don’t actually have to do.  The “extra mile” things. It’s the difference between arriving on the scene to pour hope on another country vs. stepping into the messy issues of your own history to extract justice. The difference between being a hero and being here. But if we’re honest, we’d all much rather be heroes, because it’s hard to be here.

Which is why listening to “Albertine” made me sad today. Because I know a lot of heroes. Compassion photos of brown kids worlds away decorate many a fridge in my world and it wasn’t that long ago that practically every birthday I knew of was being donated to Charity:Water… I know a lot of very helpful people, good people doing good things: Heroes. Who are absolutely useless here. Who would rather talk about it, than actually be about it. Because they think talking is actually something. And in this climate, yes: saying Black Lives Matter is better than nothing. But actions still speak louder than words. And to say Black Lives Matter, but continually only hire white folks… guess what? Your “better than nothing” is actually just nothing wearing some trendy merch.

I got this text the other day and I wish I could say that it stopped me in my tracks, but what it actually did was remind me that I haven’t actually been making any lately. I’ve been quiet. And getting quieter. And some of that has been good. I’ve been able to step back and reassess a lot of the noise I’ve surrounded myself with and some of the old favorites – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – got cut from the playlist. Quite possibly forever. (jk about Snapchat. It was NEVER a favorite.) And a lot of my own words have been coming back to haunt me. To remind me how long I’ve left them lingering in limbo. Out of my mind, but not yet in your sight where maybe… just maybe they could help you see something. Something that might just make you say, “Now that I have seen, I am responsible…”

And so with that in mind, I’m definitely letting go of this blog.  “SingularShe” started as “The Miss League” which was started as a safe place for single women to grapple with being single. And I’ve struggled to write consistently for it for the past year and some change because my grappling has changed. My conclusion on my singleness is this: It is what it is. But more importantly, what it’s not is a punishment or an indicator of worth or sign of personal deficiency. It just is what it is. And until it changes, there is nothing I can do about it other than do everything I can to be the best, most whole, most honest and authentic version of me – good, bad and ugly – not for some man, but for myself and for everybody else. Which means I have to see these other grapples through – the ones between my faith and my religion, my race and my nation, and those places where the failures of my religion and my nation in regards to my race are not matching up with my faith. It is messy stuff. And I love it. It’s what I’m here for. But it’s not exactly what you, reader of this particular blog, signed up for, so… I have to let this go.

My thought right now is that the SingularShe will officially end as what it was originally going to be when I wrote its first words: a book. I’ll finish going through all the old posts and compile the best, brightest and most relevant of them and throw that bad boy on Amazon for whosoeverwill.

And operating under the assumption that my friend is right and the world does need my voice, I’ll be working on speaking up in the ways that I can: through scripts and songs and scripts full of songs. Some of which are going to ruffle feathers. (Some of which already have. #SAINTS.) But I have to do it. Because I’ve seen too much. And I don’t think that was by accident. I have stories to tell and like Brooke Fraser, surveying the aftermath of ten years time, I feel the weight of the storyteller. To tell the story. Because now that I have seen, I am responsible.

And faith without deeds is dead.

So that’s that. Hit me up in the comments or via email (livelovelagata@gmail.com) to let me know if you’ve got any favorite posts you’d like to see in the book. (Or most definitely don’t want to see.) And please don’t think things between us have to be over forever – we can still kick it, you can find me at JaniceLagata.com and spoiler alert: there are already a few warm up posts over there…

Nothing To Lose

Nothing To Lose

I have prayed for a lot of things over the course of my life. Significant things, insignificant things. Things I never got and still think about; things I did get and don’t even remember. I have prayed prayers that have been selfless and others that were completely selfish. I have prayed in anger, happiness, confusion, sadness, frustration, guilt. And lately, I have been praying a lot of thankful prayers for heartbreaking things.

For a long time, I thought God and I had a deal: that He wouldn’t take one love without giving me another. And so as my cat was getting older, I was sure I was getting closer to finding/being found by “the one” who would be there to fill his spot as the love of my life. Because my cat was the love of my life. Not just in a crazy cat lady kind of way but in the very real day-to-day sense of him being the sole thing I had to tangibly love and care for everyday. Regardless of how I felt or what was happening or how much money I did or didn’t have or where I was living or what I was working on or struggling with, David was there. Depending on me, grounding me and loving me. And that cat didn’t just love me; he loved me more than he loved anyone else. And that was the important part. That was what I would lose if I were to ever lose him and what I thought God would surely have in place before he took him. Because without him, without that more-than-anyone-else kind of love, I would be so… optional. So unclaimed. And yes, I am loved. I know there are people who love me. But… not like that.

So when David got sick in April, so did my faith. And I got so angry. Because I could see the writing on the wall and seriously God?! You’ve had 16 years to give me something else to hold. SIXTEEN. And you couldn’t do it?! And I’ve been here, doing the best I can to stay close to You while progressively becoming more unlovable because I’ve had all this free time to become more and more passionate and vocal about things most people would rather not concern themselves with, and now You’re just going to leave me out here? Completely, like completely, alone? Well… alright then.

What?! I know. I’m sorry. I keep wanting my story to be more inspirational, to be a better example of “Look at God! He will test your faith and then He’ll really reward you!” but… that’s not how my story is going. Not so far. Not on the surface. Because my life is nothing that I wanted it to be. But my suspicion/hope is that it might be something close to what He always wanted it to be.

So much of Christian faith has become about our wants, about God fulfilling our dreams, while forgetting that He actually has us here to fulfill His. And while there are parts of what He has for us that we can’t wait to get to (wife! mother! superstar!); there are other things, the harder things (advocates, forerunners, warriors) that He can’t wait for us to get to.  But if we’re honest, most of us didn’t sign up for that kind of faith. We didn’t sign up to work, we signed up to be loved and comfortable. To be challenged and changed, solely for the sake of becoming better people for the better lives we’ll be rewarded with. And yes, there are rewards and good things ahead of us, but they are not the goal. And they are not the proof of God’s faithfulness or His pleasure.

Think about that parable of the three servants and the 1, 3, 5 talents that the master left them. When the master returned and saw what they had done with what he gave them, what did he say/give to the faithful servants? Basically, “You have been faithful over a little, so I’m going to put you over more.” But more what? MORE WORK. And yes, along with that would probably come more fun, fortune and fame, but those were byproducts, not the main thing.

So if we can’t reliably track God’s faithfulness through comfortable rewards, how do we locate it? Well… for me, I’ve found it in the grace and strength I’ve had to do the hard work. And the peace I’ve felt in the moments that should have devastated my faith. And in thankfulness for the prayers that He has answered. Because sometimes answered prayer looks like holding on to your cat as he takes his last breaths because you prayed that he not suffer and that he not die alone. And God was faithful. And so, even as I was walking straight into the reality of the thing I feared most (being completely alone), and when I probably should have been doing everything I could to hold onto love and comfort wherever I could find it: I actually had the peace and strength to forsake another comfort zone for the sake of the work that I feel I’m supposed to do.

I’ve lived in New York City for seven years. And there were only two things that were constant the whole time – my cat and my church. And coming into this summer, I had a feeling I would be losing them both. And sure enough, as of two weeks ago, it’s a whole new world. David died in the first hours of a Monday and that Tuesday afternoon I sent an email officially withdrawing from Hillsong NYC. So that’s that. I’m out’chea with nothing, y’all! (Which isn’t exactly true, because God is faithful. #staytuned)

But I just wanted to write this post, partly because I am starting to break the news that I’m no longer at Hillsong (surprise!), but mostly to send up a flare from the dark side of faith. So much of social media and the parts of our stories that we share are from our highlight reels – the moments of triumph and success – but those aren’t the only kinds of moments that God shows up in. Or the only moments we should be using to gauge His love for us or His interest in our lives.

Listen, I would be lying if I said I’m never terrified that this is it, that I’ve peaked and am already living the best life I can expect. That I’ll die someday and it won’t really matter to anyone. But there’s a flip side to having nothing that I thought would by now, I also have nothing to lose. And I do have the faith that I will have a family someday, but I don’t have to wait for that to start building a legacy. And neither do you. There is work for us to do. Now. And it probably won’t be found in the comfort we’re chasing, but there is comfort to be found in the work we were created to do. At least I hope there is. Because I’m betting everything on it right now.

Best Ever

Best Ever

Have you ever had a moment of realization and growth that you felt really good about suddenly turn around and kick you in your face? I have. Just this past week. There I was, fresh off my last post about not being afraid to let go of things because even if it’s the best you’ve ever had, it’s not the best that God can do and then 17 minutes later I’m crying because I have just written one of the best lines ever and I don’t want to give it away.

For a year now I’ve been working with an up and coming artist on his debut album. It’s a project that started out small and no-budget, but has grown and now has some pretty serious steam and momentum behind it. I started the gig as a favor and didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about the future of it, but dammit… this kid has got the goods. And he’s gonna make it. And my writing is part of that. And overall, working on this album has been a great experience. Within every song there have been moments of inspiration and frustration and some point where I hated everything about it and wanted to quit. And then just past that… somehow… it would all come together. And we’d be on to the next one.

And it’s not my album, but there are obviously pieces of me all throughout it. And there are moments and lines that I really love in each song, but there have only been three times when the writing has actually moved me to tears. And for two of those times, it wasn’t the brilliance of my lyrics as much as how they stepped right on something I was feeling at the moment. But the third one… I thought “Wow. This is a really good lyric.” And I got really sad at the thought of giving it away.

Because what if I never write something that good for myself? What if I’ve peaked and it was all for someone else? So for a good 24 hours, I had to do some soul-searching. Because it’s easy for me to let go of places and things, I know money comes and money goes, but what about what I really have to give? My gifts and my talents, my words and creativity — what do I do with this urge to hold back, to be selfish, to keep the best for someday for myself?

Well, I wish I could say I heard the voice of God say “Don’t be silly! Of course you haven’t peaked!” but I didn’t. If I heard anything it was just the question being thrown back at me “So what if you have?” What if the greatest work I ever do and the best contributions I ever make are on behalf of other people… would that really be the worst thing?

Honestly… Yes. Because God’s not done with me and I am still extremely selfish. But also… No. The worst thing would actually be to hold back today’s creativity and then spend too many tomorrows trying to shoehorn it in somewhere it never belonged.

So I let the lyric go. I gave it away. And now, looking back with the added wisdom and experience of approximately 6 days, it’s actually laughable to me what a legitimate struggle that was. I still think the lyric is amazing, but as I was working on some lyric ideas for one of my shows yesterday, I could feel the old magic lurking and I knew, I know that I’m only scratching the surface of what’s possible. Because God doesn’t compartmentalize generosity – He’ll honor any area we choose to live with an open hand in.

So I’m really grateful for this album project. For many reasons. But mostly for how much it’s stretching me. And teaching me. And reminding me that experiencing that Ephesians 3:20 better-than-you-can-ask-or-imagine means having to let go of whatever I could ask or imagine and probably thought was the best thing ever.

Because **spoiler alert**: it gets better.