Welcome to April!
This month, I will celebrate my forty-first birthday. Yes, I said forty-one. Honestly, I can’t believe that I’m actually going to be attaching that number with my name. It seems like just yesterday I could hardly wait to turn 18, head off to college, and have life really get started.
Back then, if anyone would have told me that I would be celebrating my forty-first birthday as a single woman, I’d have probably wanted to slap them in the face. (Okay, that was a little too real---still it’s true). I’ve told you before that when I was in college, I couldn’t even leaving college without being married. By the time I reached my forties, I expected to be an empty-nester preparing to become a grandmother, but I never, ever imagined that I’d be a single woman in ministry. (If I ever did imagine it, I’d consider it a nightmare and command any tormenting spirits to “Get behind me Satan.)
Whenever I met a mature single woman, I felt sorry for her. All my naïve immature eyes could see was all that she was missing. Naturally, I assumed that she must be miserable, lonely, depressed, and completely unfulfilled.
Fast forward over twenty years, and I can say with complete truthfulness that whatever my stereotypes of a Christian single woman were back then, I can testify from my own experience that they were 100% completely wrong.
Without a doubt, I am happy to write that when I blow out my candles on my forty-first birthday, I will do so as a completely happy, fulfilled, self-confident, Christian single woman with a purpose. I won’t be thinking about all the things I’ve missed (because honestly, how can you really miss something you never had or understand something you’ve never experienced?). Instead, I’ll be looking back on forty years of an amazing life filled with love, laughter, and incredible adventure. Rather than my life being a nightmare, the truth is that my life as a Christian single woman has exceeded my wildest dreams.
I stand before you, a Christian single woman, fully prepared to celebrate a Happy Birthday.
Many of you who have read my articles before know that this has not always been my attitude. As we journey together, travelling the road of living For a Single Purpose, I’ve tried to be very vulnerable about my struggle to come to terms with being single.
For me, it was a journey, filled with choices and surrender. It took time for me to stop boxing myself in with the preconceived idea that I had to be married with children before I could ever be a happy and fulfilled woman. It was a battle for me to turn over my desires and find my purpose in God’s plan for my life.
Through it all, God was faithful. Even more, He was patient.
Through everything, my very faithful Heavenly Father taught me the very important lesson that my value, my worth, and my purpose are not dependant on my relationship status. Instead, my significance (and the significance of any woman---married or single) is found in my relationship with Him and finding my purpose in His kingdom. That’s where a woman finds fulfillment, satisfaction, contentment, and ultimately true love.
So what advice do I have for any woman who is having her own struggle with singleness—who is on her own journey to find fulfillment and happiness as a Christian single woman?
Happiness and Fulfillment Come Through a Personal Relationship with Jesus
When I was younger I thought if I got married, a husband could fill the needs that were in my heart. I wanted someone to make me feel loved…wanted…beautiful….safe.
I thought that getting married would help me find my purpose…that being a wife would give my life definition and meaning.
I didn’t necessarily want to get married for love or to form a partnership; I wanted someone to fill the needs in my soul.
What I’ve learned over the past twenty years is that no man can provide fulfillment for the needs in your heart, only Jesus can. Those women, married and single, who found there significance Christ are living happy and fulfilled lives. Those who searched for significance or definition in another human being often came up lacking---looking for other means to fill the God-sized vacuum in their soul.
On my own journey, I found that the more I focused developing and nurturing my own personal relationship with Jesus, He filled the vacuum in my heart. He made me feel loved, wanted, beautiful, and safe. He was there to listen when my heart was breaking, comfort me in times of sorrow, and laugh with me in times of joy. I learned that I could rely on Him and He became the center of my world.
I know now that I do not need a husband to define me or give me a title. I have a title: Daughter of the Most High King. My Heavenly Father loves me, cherishes me, and constantly fills the needs in my heart.
Does that mean that I no longer desire to get married?
I don’t think so, what it means is that if I ever marry, it won’t be because I need someone to fill my needs. My needs are met in my relationship with Jesus. If I marry it will be for the right reasons—to give love and form a partnership with another person in serving Christ. Still, it I never marry, that will be okay too, because I don’t need to be married to be a whole, healthy, complete woman. Jesus has already given me those gifts. My relationship with God fills me with everything that I need to be happy, fulfilled, and complete.
Happiness and Fulfillment Come In Overcoming Your Personal Issues
When I was younger, I had a lot of personal issues that I needed to overcome. Even though I was raised in the church and hadn’t really indulged a lot of what’s we’d call “sinful activity”, there were still issues in my heart and mind that were causing me a great deal of distress.
I’ve written before about my issues with my Dad and the fact that our relationship left me carrying a sense of shame for being single. Because he didn’t like smart women with strong personalities, I felt like I needed to alter my personality and twist myself into knots to be a “good woman” that someone would want to marry. Because he told my mom, my brother, and I that his abuse was normal, I searched for abusive relationships. Coming from a long line of women who accepted abuse, this generational iniquity was passed down to me just like my brown hair and brown eyes.
Then there were other generational iniquities---sinful tendencies that ran through our family like a disease holding us captive. Among these was a tendency to lie, be afraid, have an addictive personality and the list could go on and on. Even though these generational iniquities were not exhibiting the same behaviors as they did in the generations before (after all, I was a Christian, I didn’t do things like that…sigh…sense the sarcasm) these things were still tying me up in emotional and mental knots, confusing my thinking, and creating a constant battle in my soul. Basically, they were making me miserable.
One of the best decisions that I ever made was allowing God to begin dealing with these issues in my heart. Granted, at first, I wasn’t thrilled that this was the next path God has chosen for my life. My agenda was marriage and ministry. God’s agenda was setting me free. End game, His ways were so much better than mine!
You see, what happened is that as God began dealing with each individual area of my heart that needed work---each generational iniquity that needed to be overcome; each area of thinking that needed to be changed; every part of my heart that needed to be healed, I began experiencing freedom and joy like I never thought was possible. It was like a doctor was removing poison from my body and restoring it to health. My thinking was becoming clearer, my heart was carrying less pain and feeling less empty, and I was becoming stronger, healthier, holier, as I was moving past my issues and realizing my true identity, value, and significance in Christ.
The truth is that at this point in life, I didn’t need to get married; I needed to deal with the issues of my heart. Not so that I could be a better partner in marriage, but so that I could become a healthy, whole woman ready to face all that life had to offer. I needed to have the poison removed so that I could become the woman God intended me to be---marrried or single. Allowing the Holy Spirit to take me through this process---allowing Him to point out areas of my heart that needed to be healed, remind me of things in the past that needed to be overcome, even going to counseling and spiritual deliverance---these were the absolute best choices that I ever made.
That’s why I encourage every woman---married or single---if you want to find true happiness and fulfillment; you need to allow the Holy Spirit to help you overcome your personal issues. Granted, this doesn’t sound romantic or sexy, but it is so absolutely necessary. All of us have things in our past, whether it be choices that we’ve made or choices others have made, that have damaged our soul. The key to living a happy and fulfilled life isn’t finding someone else to deal with our damage; it’s doing whatever is necessary to have the damage healed once and for all. It’s choosing to take out the garbage in our lives, rather than carrying it around with us for the rest of our lives.
It’s choosing healing, health, and allowing the Holy Spirit to do whatever is necessary to make you into the woman you were originally created to be. Quite honestly, it will revolutionize your entire life---filling the needs in your heart and setting you free to live a life that is beyond your wildest dreams.
As you allow the Holy Spirit to continue this work in your life, you’ll be ready to accept my next words of advice:
Happiness and Fulfillment Come In Finding Your Kingdom Purpose
When I was younger, I thought that happiness when I got all the things I wanted. However, what I’ve come to learn over the years is that true happiness and fulfillment comes when I submit to what God wants and focus on fulfilling His plans for my life.
Sounds strange, doesn’t it…still it’s the absolute truth.
I’m not really sure exactly when it happened, but I know it was a major turning point in my life. After a few years of trying to explain my life and feeling like I needed to apologize to curious onlookers because my life wasn’t fitting into their picture perfect box or going according to a prescribed plan…after years of carrying my own shame that my life didn’t fit into a nice little package, I finally came up with an answer for myself and my critics.
It was very simple. From that day forward my answer became: “The truth is that my life doesn’t belong to me anymore. I gave it away a long time a long time ago. You’ll have to ask God why my life doesn’t fit into your box…He’s in charge of my life and I’m just following Him.”
Don’t get me wrong---this answer was in no way intended to be sarcastic. I was being completely genuine and sincere. It was more than just an answer to curious outsiders, it became a real commitment inside of my heart.
My life belonged to Jesus…whatever He wanted was okay with me because I was bought with a price, and I’d dedicated my life to Him.
You have to understand that when I made this decision I wasn’t involved in ministry. There was no travel, no writing, quite honestly really no hope that my life would ever go down this road. Instead, I was living at home with my parents, helping my Mom and brother deal with their physical issues, taking care of our home, and living a very quiet life. Still, because I believed that this is what God had called me to do, I was completely happy and fulfilled. Honestly, it was one of the sweetest times in my life.
After my Mom passed away, I had to once again look to God and say, “Okay, what do You want next?” On each step of the journey, wherever He has led I have found contentment, joy, satisfaction, and purpose.
Why? Because I’m focusing on my kingdom purpose rather than on getting what I want or think I need. This key---this choice---has changed my life. It can change your life, too.
The fact is that you were created for a purpose. God has a unique plan for your life; a specific role that He wants you to play in advancing His kingdom on the earth. When you submit your will to God’s and say, “Have your way in my life”, you begin fulfilling your destiny. Even though it seems that submission and sacrifice should leave you empty and unsatisfied, the truth is that when you are living out your purpose in God’s plan, you find fulfillment, significance, purpose and joy.
That’s the reason that I can say with complete honesty that even though now I’m living what I would have considered a nightmare scenario when I was twenty-one, at forty-one, I find that the “nightmare” is actually a dream come true.
I am happy.
I am fulfilled.
I am satisfied and I am excited about the future because my joy is not dependant on my circumstances or marital status, but on my relationship with Jesus and living out my purpose in His kingdom.
The best advice I can give to all the single ladies out there searching for fulfillment, happiness and significance is to give your life away.
Give it to Jesus.
Develop a relationship with Him.
Allow Him to work on your heart and mind.
Find your purpose in His kingdom and live in it.
Married or single, this is the key to happiness and fulfillment at twenty-one, thirty-one, forty-one, or even one hundred and one. That’s the best advice I can give. Now, let’s blow out the candles and cut that cake---because of Jesus, I have something to celebrate!