The Art of Being a Single, Christian Girl

gw0a2239There’s an art to it you know- being single. Being a single girl. Being a single Christian girl.

The beautiful thing about the time we live in, is that I don’t need a man to have a good life. I have more opportunity for success and happiness as a single woman now than at any other time in history. Right now, I love being single. I can make my own plans, I can travel, I can go where I want when I want, and I answer to no man. If my big Friday night plan is to binge watch Madam Secretary with a roll of cookie dough and a 2 Liter of Dr. Pepper, then that sounds like a pretty good night! I also love being a woman- mostly. There is still so much more work to be done, but at this point in history, women are closer to equality than we have ever been before. It’s an exciting time to be a female, but also still scary with degrading stereotypes and expectations still pervading culture. And let’s not forget, trying to find a pair of jeans that actually fits both my curves and waist sucks! Finally, I am a unashamedly a Christian. I absolutely wouldn’t trade my faith for the world. Jesus gives me purpose and joy in life. In Him, I live and move and have my being.

So- how do all these things fit? How can I be a feminist yet be pro-life and against Planned Parenthood? How is being a feminist and being a Christian compatible? How do I explain that my happiness at my relationship status as a “single” is not coming from a place of bitterness or cynicism?

img_6421I’m not a man-hating, bra-burning feminist. I’m also not a callous, heart-weary cynic. I’m just NOT WAITING for Prince Charming to come before I start changing the world. I’m NOT WAITING to find that “best friend” to “do life” with before I start doing life on my own. I’m NOT WAITING to find a personal spiritual leader before I start taking responsibility for my own faith walk with Christ.

When I was in college, Christine Caine, a tremendous Christian speaker and founder of The A21 Campaign (an organization that rescues women out of sex trafficking, http://www.a21.org/index.php?site=true ) came to speak at a chapel service. Her message was inspiring, but one of the best things she said that day was the introduction of her husband. Standing on stage, she asked him to stand up and said, “I am married to the single-most ravishing piece of masculine flesh on planet Earth… He’s hot, and he’s mine.” She was proud to be his wife and very much in love. Someday, if that’s in God’s plan, I’m going to describe my husband like that. But the point is, IF THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN, I’m still going to live my life with passion and purpose and joy.

img_20161214_145937It’s frustrating to me that as a female, I even have to justify this point of view. Successful single men are applauded, yet I’m still stuck with subtle questioning of “have you found anyone yet?” It is expected that a single man should be working hard at advancing his career, but when I explain that I’m doing the SAME THING, I am on the receiving end of remarks about how “don’t I want a more ‘balanced’ life?” i.e. get a boyfriend. My career is completely focused on helping people achieve maximum quality of life, so why should society silently look down on my choice to remain single while pursuing my degree? In this age where women are encouraged to achieve greatness, why on earth am I still feeling the need to justify why I’m happy with life as a single gal? That I don’t need to have a Tinder or Match.com or whatever is the new thing these days? With explaining how it is completely possible to be single, yet still retain a soft heart and live with a joy that isn’t skin deep.

So- what’s the art? The art is in balancing the conflicting world views I hold as a Millennial, a woman, and a Christian. My faith is the bedrock upon which the other two stand. I have Baby Boomer values with Millennial idealism that I can change the world one person at a time. I’m relishing the opportunity for career advancement and equality that my profession has for women.

I’m going to keep living life in the here and now, dreaming big for the future and if a man comes along with dreams as big as mine, I can’t wait to go on that life journey with him.

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In an article in Christianity Today entitled “Would God Give Me Ministry and Marriage?” Christine Caine beautifully addresses this coming together for the glory of God.

“One night, I was speaking at a youth rally of about a thousand kids. Before I stepped onto the stage I prayed, Father, if I’m going to go further with this guy, I have to know that I’m going to do more for your kingdom married than I am single. Otherwise, I’ve given my life to you and I just want to stay single. I have to know. Do I keep dating this guy?

I sensed God’s response to me out of Deuteronomy 32:30, which says, “How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight?”

Chris, God was saying to me, you can choose whichever one you want. If you don’t marry Nick, this is what you will have. You will have one thousand, like tonight. For your whole life wherever you go, I’ll use you. But one will chase one thousand to flight. Two will put ten thousand to flight. So if you do marry him, you will have a tenfold impact for my kingdom.

See? THAT is what I’m waiting for- a man who shares the same huge dreams for life that I do. A man who chases after God before he chases after me. A man who has the same enduring passion for seeking God’s will that I have. A man who sees me as not just a helpmate, but as an equal partner and who will help me reach my dreams and goals, even as I help him reach his. Together, we can have a tenfold impact on the kingdom of God.

But…

IF THIS MAN NEVER COMES, DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR ME.

You should feel slightly envious, because I literally have nothing stopping me from living full out for God. You should feel excited that there is nothing preventing me from chasing the plan God has for my life. Instead of asking me if I’ve found someone yet, ask me about my kingdom purpose. Ask me what God is doing in my life. We will have a whole lot more to talk about.

Yes, I have high standards. I don’t apologize for that because if this guy does come along, I’ll be giving up a lot to be with him. I’ll be saying goodbye to one of the greatest times of my life- the time of being a single, Christian girl. A time where I wrestled with the whole idea of being alone and whether or not that was ok. A time where I discovered how singleness truly is a gift. A time where I struggled to believe I had a purpose. A time where I discovered the dreams God placed in my heart. A time where I spent years in the proverbial field being prepared to slay giants. A time where I learned intimately the perfect love of not a man, but the Son of Man, the Savior of my soul, Jesus Christ.

Life will still be a grand adventure. I will always have joy. I will always have purpose and meaning. I will know in the deepest part of my heart, that when given the choice between finding a man or following Christ, I chose Christ. I chose eternal love and eternal faithfulness. No earthly promises of “till death do us part” drew me away from “till He returns or calls me home.”

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My Baptism at ORU; 10-24-2014

I am at peace with that.  As in any painting, the first brush strokes in discovering the art of being a single, Christian girl are tentative and slow, the artist being hesitant to take the picture somewhere it shouldn’t go. So far, the brush strokes on my painting have been messy. There’s been miscommunication and scribbling outside the lines. There’s been backtracking and reparation to the picture. There’s been self-doubt and plummeting self-esteem that’s had to be painstakingly built back up. But best of all, there are new designs planned and new colors waiting to explode upon the canvas of my life. It’s not easy. I’m not a great artist, but my brush is guided by the God who is.

One thing is for sure, there’s an art to being a single, Christian girl and God himself has given us ladies a goal. Proverbs 31 is more than just describing the stereotypical “submissive and meek little housewife.” It actually speaks of how beautiful, strong, and industrious women are vital to our world.

dsc_0081“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks… She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come… Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31: 17, 25, 30)

To all my single girlfriends, embrace this time in your life and become a woman who is fearless and bold. Dream big and never be satisfied with the status quo. Seek relentlessly to become a woman who relies on the Lord and not just a man. You are not to be pitied, but celebrated. For you can become a woman who transcends societies’ expectations in every way and who beautifully masters the art of being a single, Christian girl.

The Road Goes Ever On,

Annamarie