Happy New Year, sweet friends! I am SO beyond excited to share a new series with you called “Modern Christianity,” where we explore what the modern christian life actually looks like— not the stereotypes people like to believe. In this series we will cover topics like how to pursue ministry over marriage, how christian girls dress, and how to be involved on college campuses without losing your faith. I have been so beyond blessed to share life with a few stand out young women of God who are living R A D I C A L L Y for Jesus. What makes them radical? Read more to find out!
First up is my sweet friend, Jess Robinson! I met Jess this summer at Cornerstone Church in Virginia Beach. I started going to this church when I moved to VB for a summer internship. At the start of the summer I was eager to find a church to go to while away from home, but didn’t really know where to start. I was scared to go to a new church all alone and after a few weird experiences I had all but given up on finding a summer church. But finally, I tried Cornerstone and was immediately welcomed in with open arms. I met Jess that first Sunday and she invited me to her Women’s group. She put her number in my phone with an emoji beside her name so I wouldn’t forget which contact was hers; I look back now and I can’t imagine my summer without the loving community she fostered in her home— I couldn’t be more thankful for that little emoji. Enough sap, you get it. She changed my life. So naturally, I had to get her to tell a little bit of her story and share some of her wisdom about dating, marriage, and careers. Jess lives a R A D I C A L christian life because she breaks the stereotype that if you’re a christian women, you can’t focus on your career or have your own ministry, but that have to get married young and start a family. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with getting married young if you choose to do that, but that’s not the right path for all christian girls. We have more than one story. So here’s Jess's:
Life plan: Get married by 25. Have first kid by 27. Finish graduate school by 29.
Well, life right now looks a bit different from that plan.
Honestly, I’m so thankful.
Most of my life was spent being a little too focused on marriage and being a mother. Disclaimer: It is never wrong to want those things, only to have them be something you focus on more than your relationship with Christ. I spent my time settling for relationships that were boring and more self-satisfying than any healthy relationship I’ve ever seen. I’m the friend with the funny (read embarrassing) dating stories, because I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. I wanted to be loved and known deeply and I had decided that a human’s depth of love was enough for me.
“The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10
To God’s credit, I now have some of the first real friendships I’ve potentially ever had. You know the kind where you can be your miserable, sweat pants wearing, not taken a shower today self and have them still love you. I have the responsibility and joy of leading the women’s ministry in my church where I have the absolute pleasure of seeing women grow in love and understanding of Jesus and themselves. I believe this ministry has blessed my life more than any pursuit of marriage ever has. This has long lasting, Kingdom effect. It’s more than funny stories to tell my kids one day. It’s blessing and joy, holding up of others, crying together, standing strong beside one another kind of stories. This.
This all because of a change of focus. I lack no good thing, because He changed my heart. He came into focus and the opportunities that had been there all along finally become reality. I just needed to give up. Give up my fleshly desire for someone to know me and let God show me how much He knows me because He created me. Give up my desire to be loved and let God show me how loved I already am, because He chose to love me. Jesus calls us to die to ourselves and we couldn't be doing that in full unless we lay down our desire for marriage at his feet and trust that he knows what he's doing. He has called us to such a great cause, to love his people and make sure they know about him. I can't be focused half on me and half on them and expect to be loving and serving them 100%. That just doesn't add up.
“But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29
Ladies, your life can be a ministry even if you’re not married. You can experience Jesus without a husband. (And that means if you’ve been divorced, widowed, or never married.) You can have beauty, excitement, intimacy, and be known while being single. Yes, marriage can and should be a ministry, but it shouldn't be your only one. Just think about it, when you’re married, a good portion of your time is spent doing things with and for that person. That’s a natural thing. How about we take advantage of all of the time we have now and go love on people? How would our world change if we spent our extra time showing people what Jesus looks like and building each other up instead of being dissatisfied with our marital status?
“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” 1 Chronicles 16:11
You’re going to have days. Days where it’s hard and you wish and dream things were different. That’s totally fine. God wants to know our desire and he loves when His children share those with him. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.” Romans 8:26 That’s just it, God sent us the Holy Spirit to translate our groaning into intelligible language. Let’s not take these times for granted, but we shouldn’t rest in them too often.
What if you don’t know how to have your life look like a ministry? I’ll let my amazing friends be an example. I have single female friends starting new businesses, running church ministry, traveling the world, fostering amazing friendships, hosting amazing get togethers, etc. You can be a ministry just by being yourself! Do whatever you’re good at! If you love to host parties and bake, invite people into your home that don’t think, look, or act like you. Take time to meet with people and just listen, if that’s what you’re good at. Those people will be more appreciative that you listened than whatever you said in response. If you have a servant heart, find a place to serve-in the community, in your church, at your work. All you need is to a little praying and I’m certain that our God will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.
So, maybe when you’re at college, join a club that serves instead of looking for your next Mr. Right. There is so much life to live and I’d hate for you to miss out on it because your focus was on “ring by spring” instead of being loved by the King. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being married young. Some of my friends have the most beautiful, sacred relationships with their spouses. I want that too, so that's why I pursue God instead of a man. That's why I don't sell myself short just to get a date. That's why I make time to love on others. Ultimately, I would rather people know me for how I love Jesus than the guy I went out with on Friday. We can do a much better job in the church of fostering this type of attitude. There can be so much pressure to have a fiancé by the time we graduate college or get married right out of high school and start having babies. While that works for some and is their calling, that doesn’t mean it fits everyone. If God took the time to make each one of us uniquely, don’t you think we would each have a unique story to tell? That each one of our lives should be serving a different purpose for His Kingdom?
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”
I love that you’ve taken the time to pursue Christ in a deeper way through SWMM. I pray that each step you take is met with leaps and bounds in your growth, that God would bless you for being faithful and you would love others even better because of His love for you.
You’re beautiful. You’re worthy of great love. You were bought with the highest of prices. Now go love the world like that’s true.
Isn’t Jess amazing? Seriously, my life changed in the few months I got to be in her Women’s Group. If Jess had been pursuing marriage instead of ministry I don’t know what my summer experience would have looked like. It’s because of her decision to focus on what God was calling her to in ministry that I was able to find a deep, albeit brief, community in Virginia Beach. Show her some love and share this post!
You can follow Jess here!