Think that the problem with your love life is simply being unable to find a good catch? Think it has to do with cosmic error? Maybe it’s time to shift that paradigm and consider that it might be what you as a single woman are thinking and doing that is contrary to the full life God has in store for you.
Popular author and speaker Michelle McKinney Hammond, who has lived and written extensively on the subject of singleness, has shared her wisdom and humor in such popular titles as The DIVA Principle®, 101 Ways to Get and Keep His Attention, Sassy, Single, & Satisfied, Secrets of an Irresistible Woman, What to Do Until Love Finds You, A Sassy Girl’s Guide to Loving God, and The Power of Being a Woman. Now, the founder and president of HeartWing Ministries and cohost of the Emmy–nominated show Aspiring Women seeks to quell those common concepts that can plague a single woman in her latest book, How to Avoid the 10 Mistakes Single Women Make.
For those who are dying to know what those ten mistakes are, here is the rundown:
- Placing marriage on a pedestal next to God
- Using singleness as an excuse to not get on with the business of living
- Embracing the Cinderella syndrome and waiting for the perfect prince to rescue you
- Missing the significance of the present moment
- Being short-sighted about life
- Falling down on the job of life
- Being completely self-involved
- Neglecting the most important person in your life next to God – you
- Subjecting your heart to foolish choices
- Giving up and caving in
So now that you have the overview and you are curious for more, I am going to share with you the highlights of the interview I did recently with Michelle. I have divided the Q&A into three categories: reality check, reaping a good harvest, and the value of a man. Now, don’t be like most women I know and skip to the man part: You need to get the whole picture. Take it all in, and I pray that Michelle’s words of wisdom will help keep you on the straight and narrow path to a blessed life in the Lord.
Of the 10 mistakes, what is the area that most women struggle with?
I would say the biggest one is not planning for their future because they are still dwelling in the midst of the fantasy that someone is going to rescue them from the life that they are living.
It sounds like a paradigm shift is needed because the whole idea that we grow up with as girls is Cinderella. We have that receiver mentality, as opposed to a giver. How can we make that switch?
We all still dream of meeting the rich man, but there are only so many of them. But basically, necessity pushes you into accepting that and making the shift because it is just not a reality.
At one point, you had to do that yourself because there is a point where you are like, OK, God, I am 30-something. You are starting to think, Maybe I need to buy my own house. When did it hit you?
Well, my friends all pounced on me. I would say my friends all had interventions with me! Thank God for that accountability structure. About four years ago is when it set in for me. I got to the place where I had to settle into the fact that I might not get married, and that wasn’t disturbing to me anymore because I really have a very enjoyable life, but just let’s deal with the reality if you don’t get married. What would you like your life to look like? Would you like to have a stable home? What would you like in it? So I really started planning.
I was reading in Song of Solomon when the Shulamite got married to the king. She had a vineyard to give to the king, and I thought, I don’t really have anything to give to someone even if they enter my life. I have nothing to bring to the party. So even for the sake of smart financial sense and planning for your future overall, whether you are married or not, it makes sense to purchase a piece of real estate or have investments so that you have something to contribute to your life, because life isn’t cheap anymore and not many people are living it on one income.
REAPING A GOOD HARVEST
How would you define a full life for a woman?
I think that a full life is peace with God first of all; and then rich, invested relationships that make you thrive and make the people in your life thrive because you are in their lives; and then a sense of accomplishment, of fulfilling your purpose, of discovering your gifts and exploiting them to the utmost to serve other people. And somehow the windfall is that you also get blessed in the process. But the first motivation is to serve people with your gifts. Then the abundance to yourself comes from that.
What other qualities should we as women nurture in order to be a good wife?
I think that the heart of a servant is an important thing. Service is a lost art in our society today. You go to the store, and they act like they are doing you a favor when they are being paid to serve you. I think that that translates over into home life and our relationships, where we are not as sensitive to the art of being a servant anymore. Yet that is high on God’s list if we are to be the man or the woman that God has called us and created us to be. Just cultivate the heart of a servant to everyone around you. Then it will automatically be a habit once this person comes into your life – you are as busy thinking about how to serve them as opposed to getting something out of them. Love is not about what we get; it’s about what we give: ‘God so loved the world that He GAVE,’ not that He took.
We are supposed to be like Jesus. We are here to serve. And I think a lot of us women are not there. We have forgotten how to sow. What things should we be sowing into our lives?
I go back to service again – and that’s just beyond your inner circle, because I think that sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we are serving when we pick people to serve that we get something out of. If you are going to the old folk’s home where they can’t give you anything but love, that’s a real act of service, or you are visiting children in the hospital, or you are picking someone who really has a great need but can’t give you anything back but love.
We have got to become aware of the world at large, aware of people’s needs and how we can sow into that. God says that pure religion is that we take care of the widows and the orphans, so sowing into the lives of someone we might never see is an act of service and something that brings pleasure to the heart of God.
Also, sowing into yourself, taking care of yourself. We have this habit of letting ourselves go because there is no one looking at the time. You never know who is watching. You can’t wait until the man shows up and then run to Bally’s and try to get it all off. So sowing into yourself in the area of taking good care of yourself, watching what you eat, cultivating the woman God created you to be so that you are always operating at your best.
Sowing into your workplace, sowing excellence. Sowing is about reaping a harvest that glorifies God. That reaches all fronts of our lives. Sow into your life financially, saving money, tithing, placing a value on spiritual things, not being moved by emotionalism but really making rational decisions about how you want to sow into the kingdom of God.
When you get to be a single over 30 or over 40, you can isolate yourself because so many of your friends have gotten married. How do you build authentic community in that respect?
You know what? I have had the same friends for over 20 years. I think that you don’t get rid of friends when life changes. Your friendships move to another level. People should not go away. They might go to another place inside your heart, based on their schedules and yours, but you should always have good touch points.
I have friends for over 20 years in my inner circle, and our lives have all drastically changed. Two of those ladies are married, one is getting married. So I am the last single one standing in my inner group. I travel the most. One is a pastor of a church, the other has a high-profile advertising job, and the other one is a housewife. So our lives are drastically different, yet we built a ritual for ourselves to stay in touch; that is, every four months –well, each of our birthdays actually fall within a quarter. That day is carved out. It’s our day to get together and pray for one another, to serve one another, to bless one another, and if a crisis arises, then we are there on a more consistent basis. We touch base at least once a week in a conversation. That is a ritual that we established.
THE VALUE OF A MAN
What a blessing to your future spouse when he is not the only one fulfilling your needs!
Right. Well, he can’t. I think that that is another one of the mistakes that single women make is that they expect the man to come and fill in all the blanks in their life. First of all, God is not going to allow him to do that. If that were possible, we wouldn’t need God. And God is never going to allow someone to remove the need for Himself in our lives. In the process of understanding why a man is in your life, it is certainly not for him to fill in all the blanks. As a matter of fact, he is probably going to create a few more blanks for God to fill in in your life because as iron sharpens iron, so two friends sharpen one another. Well, guess what two mates do? They sharpen each other even more. The person in your life is going to make you grow and is going to stretch you beyond where you are. You are going to encounter more blanks than the few blanks that you had.
Sometimes we check some guy off our list, even though he can be potentially growth building.
That’s why I ask people, ‘What do you want your relationship to look like? What do you want your life to look like? Is this person conducive to getting you there? OK, they are pushing your buttons, but are they pushing good buttons that you needed to push yourself?’
Accomplished, attractive, career-wise women can be completely scary to single Christian men. How can we be accomplished but not scary?
By being more interested in them than you are in yourself. A lot of times we are very impressed with ourselves, and we like to share all that we have done with everyone we meet. Perhaps that is not necessary.
I think that we should be like a good country: you just discover beautiful things about the person, and it’s not all thrown into your face at the same time. You allow people to take the journey through you and discover all those wonderful little sights along the way, that it’s not an overwhelming picture.
Because the man lives to be the important person in your world, when you meet that man, you have got to be more interested in him than you are in yourself or in letting him know how interesting you are. In the midst of that, he starts to feel really good about himself, and people get addicted to us based on how they feel when they are in our presence. So, if he knows that every time he is with you he feels important and special, then all that other stuff is not going to overwhelm him. If you make him feel first, he will latch onto that feeling.
You also mentioned the difference between men and women. Women have the power of influence, whereas guys have authority. Would you explain the difference?
Men are the head of God, and women are the heart of God, so we know that even when authority is set in a place, if I am not influenced to yield to that authority, it doesn’t make a bit of difference. In that case, influence ultimately becomes more powerful than authority, because influence changes the heart and changes the mind of a person, and that’s what relegates their behavior. So God gave us this incredible gift to touch and inspire and exhort and encourage people and make them believe that they can do anything.
Sometimes I think as women, when we get into relationships with men, because of ideas from the culture or because we are into our careers we can think, ‘I am second to this dude.’ We have this philosophy that he has all the power.
This is not a contest. It is about being a team player. And in a team, no one is ever on the same level, but they all work together to win the game. Power shifts on a team from player to player, depending on what’s most important at the time. If we can just get over this ego trip of who is the most powerful person here. That’s not even relevant to what we are trying to accomplish. That’s certainly not submitting one to another. If Jesus, who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, can come and wash people’s feet and live like he lived, who are we to have an ego trip?