I’m 27 and single. When I was younger, I never thought that this is the place I would find myself in at this age. 25 sounded so old to me as a teenager, and I thought for sure that by that age I would be married with at least 1 child. Well, it turns out that God had other plans than what I dreamt up for myself. It’s not always easy being an older, single female. I have learned just how much young marriages are praised and encouraged in the Christian culture and how older, single women are often viewed as if there is something wrong with them to have not “earned” a husband yet. It’s been an interesting journey, but one that I am grateful for as God has used this time to pour into my life and teach me more and more about His character and His plans.
I have noticed several different articles online all listing out different things to do while you are single. While some of them are great and have really good information, I’ve noticed that there are so many things that I can’t apply to my life. For instance, it seems to be a trend to tell single girls to live it up, party all the time, sleep around, etc. So I thought that for girls like myself who are seeking God and waiting on His promises in their lives I would write out my own list of things one can do while waiting on their spouse. I by no means am claiming to be an expert on any of this, but these are the things that I have learned and have worked to apply to my life during this season.
1. Get free
Seriously. I think this is the most important thing anyone can do before getting married. We all tend to carry around so much baggage from the different things we have gone through in our lives. Be it childhood pain, past relationships, or insecurities, there are so many things that have affected our lives and until we are set free from them, they will affect our reactions, emotions, and relationships. Take time with God and allow Him to show you in what areas of your life you need freedom. Be vulnerable with Him and let Him reveal things to you and show you the stuff that you still need to be healed from. I don’t think there is any greater gift you could give your future spouse than a healed, whole heart. Two people still in bondage from their pasts will eventually emotionally destroy one another, but two people who are free and secure in who they are in Christ will set the world on fire.
2. Make friends with yourself
Learn to be kind to yourself. Learn to view yourself the way that God sees you. Get to know yourself deeply. Find out what you like, what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about. Learn who you are. I think that it’s so important to know who you are and to love yourself before attaching yourself to another person. If Jesus calls us His friends, we need to learn how to be our own friends as well. Friends advocate for one another, cherish each other, stand up for each other, push each other to be their best. Become your own friend.
3. Get your finances in order
Take advantage of this season to get out of debt and save money so that when you do get married you and your spouse are not immediately swallowed up in debt. Finances are one of the main things that couples argue about and ultimately divorce over. Take care of that now to avoid future problems!
4. Take care of your body
Focus on yourself during this season and learn to treat your body right. Not for the sake of material reasons or because of society’s standards of beauty, but because we are temples of the Holy Spirit and need to honor and care for our bodies. It takes a lot of self-discipline to make good, healthy choices for yourself and that same practice of self-discipline will then be carried over in to other areas of your life. Get healthy for yourself and for your future.
5. Live alone
I know that this isn’t feasible for everyone, but if it is, living alone is one of the greatest things you can do before marriage. You learn so much about yourself by living alone it’s unbelievable. You learn your own strength and independence, as well as how to enjoy your own company which is vital in making friends with yourself. Understanding that you don’t need a husband to provide for you will lead to you choosing someone based off of God’s will and not your emotions.
6. Go on a mission trip
It’s so hard to be able to travel once you are married and start having children. Find an organization that sends people on mission trips (one of my favorites is www.adventures.org), pick a trip, and GO. Let your heart be opened up to the needs of people around the world. Let God break your heart for what breaks His. Step out of your comfort zone for a little bit. You will never be the same. Being exposed to the needs of the people around the world will create a compassion in you that you didn’t necessarily have before, and that compassion will be carried over into every relationship you have and ultimately create a stronger marriage.
7. Travel alone
Traveling alone is not easy. Last year I was able to go to Oklahoma to help do disaster relief after the terrible tornadoes. It was a 9 hour drive from where I live, and I was alone the entire time. The year before that I was able to fly to Pittsburgh alone to visit my brother for Thanksgiving. I love traveling and before these two times had never traveled alone . I think that traveling alone empowers you. You become more confident and you realize that you dont’ always have to have someone with you. If there’s somewhere you want to go or something you have been wanting to do, just go! Don’t wait for others to jump on board to pursue your dreams! Theres freedom in being able to do things alone. Find that freedom :)
8. Get an education
Now I realize that college is not for everybody. I know that there are so many successful people living out their God-given purpose and calling who never went to college and I think that’s great! But if a higher education is something you want to pursue, what better time than right now! Go after it. Once you are married you won’t have the same opportunity to chase certain dreams!
9. Face a fear
Is there something you have always wanted to do but fear has held you back? A dream in your heart that over and over again fear has silenced? Now is the time to face those fears! Whatever it is, stand up with courage against what is silencing you. For me, my fears have always been the opinion of man and what people thought about me. I have had to choose to face that fear by stepping out regardless of what people may say and pursuing the things that God has placed in my heart. You can do the same things! Know that God is for you and fights for you. Stand up to some fears today!
10. Become part of a community
Use this time to surround yourself with people who love you, encourage you, and bring out the best in you. Get plugged into a church, join a small group, be intentional with your relationships with friends. We are created for community and to participate in life with one another. The relationships you take time to cultivate today will be the same people who stand with you through trial after trial for the rest of your life. Surround yourself with those who constantly speak life and love you through the hard times of life and who always point you towards Christ.
11. Enjoy your life!!
The absolute worst thing you can do during a season of waiting is mourn. Having a husband and children is not going to magically make your life better or solve any problems. There are so many people who are married with children who actually envy the life of a single person, regret getting married young, or end up in abusive relationships that they can’t get out of. Trust God’s timing and live life to the fullest! Choose joy every single day. Do something you have always wanted to do. Love your friends and family deeply. This is not a time to mourn or wallow in self-pity. It’s a beautiful season of life that should be celebrated! There is always always something to be thankful for. Learn to recognize all the gifts in your life and then take advantage of this season of complete freedom in Christ to become the person God has called you to be.
These things are in no way a guarantee that someone will have a long, healthy marriage. They are simply the areas that God has pin pointed in my own life that I needed to focus on during this season of singleness. Let God show you what you need to work on and take advantage of this time to grow in Him and know Him deeper. And please please remember, there is nothing wrong with you . I don’t know why God plans for some girls to get married at 18 and some to get married at 40. All I know is that if you love and seek the Lord and do what you can to follow His will for your life, then you are on the right path. Your life doesn’t have to look like someone else’s life for you to know that God is for you and working on your behalf. Let us become people who celebrate and rejoice in what God is doing in everyone’s lives, whether we understand it or not, because everything God does is good.
Like the rest of the world, I was shocked and saddened to hear about the death of Robin Williams yesterday. I fondly remember watching his movies and being amazed that one person could play so many different characters and evoke so many different emotions. To know that a man who brought the gift of laughter to the lives of those around him was struggling with secret pain is heartbreaking and brings to light the stigma that has been created around mental illness.
Statistics show that nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide. That’s 30,000 wives, husbands, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, etc who quietly struggle with emotional pain while the rest of the world goes on around them, sometimes completely oblivious to the pain of others. For so long people have been shamed into silence when it comes to things like depression, anxiety, panic, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses for not being “strong” enough to overcome. This culture of shaming leaves people feeling like they have no place to turn to for help, for support, for friendship, especially in the Christian church. We expect our Christian brothers and sisters to have the ability to encourage themselves in the Lord, pull themselves together, and get it together. It is hard for us to understand or believe that someone who loves the Lord could battle mental illness without it somehow being their fault.
There are so many different kinds of battles that people face in this life. Mental illness is one of them. People who are struggling don’t need shame and judgement, they need love, grace, and mercy. They need people in their lives who will support them, cheer them on, cry with them, pray with them, and sit quietly with them. They need people who will speak life over them and encourage them. I think it’s important to remember that we all struggle with something, and we are all in need of grace. If we allowed ourselves to be real and vulnerable, I would say that most of the stigma surrounding mental illness has to do with the fear that “that could be me.” We would rather turn a blind eye, act like it doesn’t exist, or shame those who struggle rather than accept the reality of mental illness because that means that it could very well try to enslave us one day as well.
But friends we have a choice. Every day we have the choice of helping set people free or tightening the chains on their prison. It’s time that we become a safe place for those struggling, hurting, questioning, and battling. Let them bring their secret pain, fears, hurt, and doubts because Jesus can handle it all. People struggling with mental illness often shame themselves enough as it is. Why can’t I just be happy, why can’t I stop having panic attacks, why am I not strong enough? The last thing they need is more shame. They need community, relationship, friendship, and real love. May we always be people who help the hurting introduce their pain to the Healer. Choose to speak life friends. Grab someone’s hand and show them the love of Christ. It’s only there that we can all find freedom.
I think this is where I am supposed to tell you all about my dreamy life and how I have everything together.
Let’s be honest and start with some facts. My name is Angela – I am 27 years old from a small city in southeast Texas, but my heart’s home will forever be Bogota, Colombia where I was born. By day I am a social worker who visits families and writes reports for Child Protective Services. By night I am a daughter, sister, aunt, runner, aspiring author, and ice cream enthusiast who deeply craves to see hope restored and the light of Christ brought to the ends of the earth. My life doesn’t look anything like I thought it would by this age, and I am slowly learning that it’s OK. God has taken me on a journey of learning how to make friends with freedom and uncertainty and trust His heart one step at a time.
I have thought about starting a blog for a long time now, but have always talked myself out of it because I didn’t think I had anything valuable to say. What would people think about me? Would they like me, judge me, criticize me? Fear and doubt have stolen my confidence time and time again. I can’t promise that I will always have a lot to say, or have all the answers and the most magical writing skills that leave you feeling like you just talked with Jesus Himself. What I can promise is that I will always speak truth and give grace. I want this blog to be a safe place where people find the truth of who Christ is and the beauty of His love for us. I hope you see something here that leaves you hopeful and calls out courage from the deep places within you. Together we can truly light up the darkness with the Light of Christ.
All my love, Angela