Today's role for a Christian woman takes many forms working together - mom, sister, wife, home maker, career women, and more. All of these relationships demand your time and attention. At iBelieve.com we want to help you grow in healthy relationships whether you’re single and dating, newlyweds, married or widowed. Find encouragement and feel uplifted with the sharing of personal experiences from women in every walk of the Christian women’s life.
Wasn’t I supposed to be married by the time I hit 30?
I remember the year I turned 30, I bawled my eyes out. I figured if I hadn't fallen in love yet, maybe it just wasn't in me to fall in love. I drove home alone on Christmas Eve and choked out this prayer:
"God, You led the wise men to Jesus with that moving star. I'm going to keep following you, my Star. If I'm destined to be single, give me the strength to follow you, fresh and chaste, all the way to the end of my life. But, if there is a man who can love me the way I need, lead him to the manger, just like you led the wise men. Because that's where he'll find me. Following you."
Three years later after this prayer, I met my husband and we'll be celebrating 12 years of crazy-in-love wedded bliss this fall.
Looking back, I see four reasons why I'm so glad I married in my 30s.
1) I brought a whole, developed self to my marriage.
I had a chance to live my life as a working, career-independent single woman, empowered, enjoying adventure, my freedom and my friends. When I finally choose marriage, I brought my interests, passion, memories and stories into my relationship with my husband. I love this about my husband too. We aren't looking to the other person to define us. We enjoy sharing so much with each other as equals. We admire and respect each other as individuals and it fuels our attraction for each other.
Embrace your single life and enjoy the benefits of the freedom to explore who God made you. Single or married, your vitality will add to the next season God has for you.
2) I developed good communication and conflict resolution skills in my 20's. In my friendships as a single, I gained experience and wisdom on what is hurtful and also nurturing in relationships. Because my friends were so important to me, I learned what worked and what doesn't work in communication when there are differences. It doesn't mean we've got it all together; there's more to learn as husband and wife. But I gained valuable skills to help us navigate conversations, rather than harmful arguments. Especially when the stress of kids get added to the mix.
If you’re single, take risks and get to know different kinds of people. Go on adventures to explore different cultures and experiences. Don't shy away from conflict. Have the hard conversations.
3) I nurtured a very intimate and strong relationship with God. As a single, I needed a soulmate and a confidante to discuss my life plans, feelings, fears and my dreams. In lieu of a husband, I pursued a very intimate and personal relationship with Jesus through contemplative prayer, journaling, digging passionately into Scripture, and enjoying beautiful times of Spiritual Whitespace: spending time with God hiking, in nature. Once I got married, I relied on that intimate God connection even more. It shapes me as a wife who is spiritually refreshed, who isn't dependent on her husband to fulfill her. I can be a wise and loving helpmate for my husband, because I get my inner needs met, which brings harmony into our marriage.
Before you get married, get curious about going deeper, more soulful with God. Pick up hiking, enjoy the outdoors. Look into retreats for contemplative prayer, take a theology class or sign up for group inductive Bible Studies.
4) My years of living out agape love and phileo love helps fuel a passionate love life.
When you're single heading towards thirty, friends often tell you not to be so picky. They advise love is a choice, that grows out of caring for each other and sharing spiritual goals to serve God.
But what my well-meaning friends were talking about was agape and phileo love.
Agape is love-in-action, used in Corinthians 13 that defines the nature of God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-12). We're commanded to agape love our enemies (Matt. 5:44) and agape love Jesus by obeying his commands (John 14:21). Agape is not a feeling, but obedience.
The Bible also talks about phileo love which is friendship or brotherly/sisterly affection. When Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him, after he resurrected, Jesus used phileo love. The Apostle Paul encourages us as believers to "Love one another with brotherly affection [phileo]." (Romans 12:10)
SEE ALSO: An Advent Prayer for the Lonely
I believed I was already experiencing agape and phileo with God and believers -- growing within a community of believers.
What I really wanted in marriage, I found hard to confess: I wanted romance.
Eros -- sensual love and physical attraction -- is something only a man and a woman experience. And marriage was where God allows us to experience this gift.
I didn't know it at the time, but experiencing agape love and phileo love as a single actually inspires eros love as a married person! When we give action-oriented sacrificial love, we minimize friction and stress in everyday life -- little things like who takes out the trash or big things like which spouse will watch the kids so the other can have a night off. When we develop a strong friendship between us, we listen well without criticizing. We feel safe to share our thoughts and feelings and have fun. Agape and phileo creates the emotional environment for a great sex life.
Life isn't over because romance isn't expressed. Nurture yourself and love others with your light, gifting and personality. Make this world a more beautiful place because of you.
Because of the passion God's put in my life as a single woman, I can honestly say, the honeymoon doesn't have to end when you get married. And my husband will agree.
Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, garnering starred review praise from Publisher's Weekly, named as one of PW's top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie is a featured contributor at (in)courage and her writing is nationally syndicated, spotlighted by Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Leadership, Today's Christian Woman, and Christianity Today. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been a missionary, ministry entrepreneur and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. Bonnie serves up shots of faith for the daily grind on her blog Faith Barista.com. Bonnie lives in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons.