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I have been a Christian since I was 16. I was single until I was 42. I know the challenge of leading a sexually pure life in a sex saturated culture. In this series I interview single Christians whose witness will give hope-filled encouragement.
Meet Kristina Twitty…
Kristina, you're a 37 year old Christian woman who is both theologically and politically conservative. You're beautiful, articulate and joyful. I know there's a story there. Will you share your story with us?
My life has followed a non-traditional path in so many ways! I didn't date in high school at all. It doesn't mean I haven't had my share of deep crushes or that I didn't fall deeply in love with a couple of good friends, but those feelings weren't mutual, so I was careful to hold onto the friendships. That pattern continued into my 20s as I skipped college, instead moving to work in Washington, on Capitol Hill and for a conservative political non-profit. The stakes were higher in Washington, moving there right after the Clinton intern scandal, I was always very careful to do nothing I wouldn't have wanted on the front page of the Washington Post the next day!
I had a few dates, but it wasn't until I had been in DC for 3 years, at age 25 that I had my first "boyfriend," (a term that still sounds strange to me) and he had to ask for 6 months, before I said yes. We dated for 3 months, and I broke it off over the difference in our faith practice, knowing we didn't agree on how to raise our children. To this day, I look back on the relationship with fondness, due to the respect and kindness he showed me, even when I broke it off. I was invited to his wedding and though it's from a distance, we are still friends to this day.
Does your singleness now feel like a label that defines you, something that other people think needs to be fixed or are there blessings and benefits that others don't recognize?
Goodness, no, it's not a label that defines me. Being single to me is like being a red-head, or being tall; I just am and so I adjust. I wear sun-screen. I have to remind myself to stand up straight, but I still wear high heels. I adjust to being single. My new adjustment is to being single and 10-15 years older than I think I am! Ha!
As for other people, since most of my relationships have been politically formed and professional, my personal life is not usually part of a conversation. When it does come up, it's not always awkward, awkward anymore. Believe me, it's taken time, but I've become mostly comfortable and finally confident being single. I have my moments, when it makes me angry to be asked why I am single by people who don't know me and seem to just be looking for something to talk about. I think that has more to do with who is asking and why than the fact that I am. With others, who've known me a long time, it seems to be the question every time I see them. They love me, so I am not offended by it at all.
I have no problem building relationships professionally and being in politics, it seems that my resume among other things has run off most men that may have otherwise been interested. I've yet to have anyone who thought I should be married try to prayerfully consider introducing me to someone who might be a good match.
You have been in some significant relationships along the way and even engaged. After those relationships ended, what did you need from your friends and fellow Christians?
Four years living in St Louis in my late 20s gave me 3 of my broken hearts. Each of those relationships broke me at a different level and brought me to a different place of dependence on Jesus. It became more real to me as I began to admit that I did want to be married and have a family, and admit that I'd been "played" and rejected by men I'd grown to love and trust. It hurt - deeply. Especially because I was in leadership at my church, I hid it well, put on a brave face and later, mostly after I moved away, I shared my story with others so they would recognize me in other women who faced similar situations in the future. I would like to see Pastors and leaders take a more active role in knowing the single men in their congregation and being protective of the single women, especially if their fathers are unwilling, unable or unavailable to do so.
I have to say that my last year in St Louis, I had a wonderful Bible Study Fellowship small group. We were all single women, and didn't want to be! We really pulled together that year and over the summer read a book together called When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James. Because I'd read it during this difficult time, I helped lead the discussion, driving the point home even more. James really gets to the core of what we believe about God and the way He "should" do things – following the relationship Jesus had with Martha and Mary - especially Mary's expectations of Jesus when Lazarus died. It was good for all of us!
After I broke off my engagement, a couple of years ago, I needed my church community even more. I needed to be invited to activity with other people. It was hard to reach out especially to those married with children. If the time leading up to breaking off a relationship is intense, you still need people around you. It's not over once you break it off, and sometimes that's the time that everyone leaves you alone again… when you've just ripped your own heart out by breaking up with some one. After my break ups, I was still broken. I really was walking wounded. Healing takes time and it involves the care of others. Just as healing takes place after one is released from ICU, the break up is sometimes just the beginning of healing.
What warnings would you like to raise for younger Christians today - what are the situations or scenarios that, in your experience, leave us most vulnerable to compromise or temptation?
Loneliness was the hardest part for me, and always had been. My warning would be this – don't get lonely. Spend quality time building quality relationships and fight for having quality work that you are made for and is fulfilling your God-given gifts.
Become comfortable being alone, even when it seems that no one else is. Set about finding your purpose and developing your gifts. Chances are, you have a lot of them that you've been too busy to see. Set good boundaries and don't let anyone talk you out of them. It's not worth the concessions you make to keep a relationship. I learned that it does have a lot to do with us as women. I believe that the same level of self-respect we possess will be what we must demand of a suitor and should expect of a husband.
Don't be discouraged. It's never too late to re-set the line. You can do that graciously. Contrary to popular belief, "No" is not a bad word. You don't have to be cruel. The cruel part is the ever moving boundaries that are difficult for us to set when our hearts and hormones get ahead of our heads and the wisdom that the Spirit is there to remind us of, if we spend time reading His word. Don't neglect reading your bible. Even if it feels empty. Don't stop. Listen to it, turn on good Christian music that speaks truth. Turn off the movies that fantasize romance and toss the magazines that tell you the best ways to "make your man happy" and how to lose weight - honestly! Fight to fill your mind with good, true, right, honorable things and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He will!
I'd also say that it isn't our job to convince the men in our lives to treat us with the respect. It's our job to save ourselves for the one who does. If we want to be worth waiting for, we have to wait too. Yes, it's hard to do. Yes, I still think it will be worth it. I have bet my single life on it!
Are there particular books or resources that you have found personally helpful?
Yes! One book I cannot recommend highly enough is What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa Terkeurst. No matter your stage in life, this book speaks to the heart of the matter – walking in faith. The highlights and marks in my copy would tell you how God used it to speak to me, convict me, encourage me and remind me of my ultimate goal – to live and move in Him, to love Him with all my heart first and walk with Him in faith – not knowing what my earthly future holds. Most pointedly, she writes – and I paraphrase here - that "God has already taken care of the consequence of my obedience." We can trust Him, not only with our own hearts but the hearts of the men we love – even if we end the relationship. He loves them more than we every could.
Relationally, Boundaries in Dating and Safe People, both by Henry Cloud and John Townsend were wonderful to help me recognize where I had not set good boundaries. Safe People helped me see where I was an "unsafe person" and part of the problem in my broken relationships! The One (or Buyers, Renters and Freeloaders) by Dr. Willard Harley, a gift from my dad, is another one, and especially great to read with a date when you're getting serious.
After those rough years at the end of my 20s, I finally got to a place of being willing to admit that it was a truly a desire of my heart to be a wife. Getting Serious about Getting Married by Debbie Maken helped expand my understanding of the part I inadvertently played in staying single and how to be available in a healthy way. When I began to consider a new relationship, Get Lost by Danna Gresh helped me in very practical ways to get quiet and soak in my relationship with God and His love for me – fasting from any romantic relationships as I read it. That was really good for me at that point in my life and gave me a bit of an emotional reset that I needed.
In the past few months, Get Married by Candice Watters has encouraged me to be honest with myself and others about still desiring to be married, leaning on my "network" of good friends to help me meet and evaluate a potential mate.
...anything else you want to share?
I'd like to say something to single men. Be honest and take a risk on us. We may not always respond well, so be patient with us. Wait for us. Fight for us and learn how to do that in ways that is contrary to what "everybody else is doing" – because you aren't looking for "everybody else", if you're looking for us. Pray for us. Seriously. Pray diligently that we would seek Him, have healthy relationships and be wise in those relationships. If you don't intend to marry, don't just date around. Most Christian women want to be married. So don't play with our hearts. Your honorable pursuit of our hearts is an example of Jesus' pursuit of us – not only to us, but a watching world. You have a great responsibility and we appreciate that.
I want to encourage single women especially to learn to listen to your emotions. I didn't do that very well in some of my relationships. Especially listen to your tears. Don't ignore them or stuff them. Figure out where they are coming from and take them as a warning sign if you don't know. It's okay to be unsure about committing to a life partner. It is not all about us and God is working on them too. Psalm 56:8 says He has recorded all our sorrows and keeps our tears in a bottle. He loves us – and while the brokenness of this world may isolate us, He never leaves us, and He comforts us so that we can comfort each other. He's the only one who gives peace that outshines our understanding. We can hold on to that and press on! •
Kristina Twitty is adopted by God, southern by birth, with a passion for bioethics/life issues; Work:Director of Operations www.georgialifealliance.com. @GaLifeAlliance, the Georgia affiliate of National Right to Life. Managing GLA's outreach efforts, social media, special projects, communications, church relations and volunteers. Kristina@georgialifealliance.com.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge is chairman of the Common Ground Christian Network, a member of the board of the National Association of Evangelicals, a blogger at AChristianManifesto.com and President of the Presbyterian Lay Committee. You can follow her @carmenlaberge.
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