Mandy Hale is on a mission to empower women everywhere to never settle for less than God's best. Known as "The Single Woman" and a Twitter powerhouse, Mandy has made a platform for herself by inspiring single women everywhere to practice joyful living regardless of their relationship status.
Mandy's new book, I've Never Been to Vegas, but My Luggage Has, hits the shelves in March. In it, Mandy shares her journey of past relationships, faith, and how "happily ever after" is not as far off as we think it is. With Valentine's Day right around the corner, Today's Christian Woman caught up with Mandy to hear her thoughts on singleness.
Why do you think some women feel that being single is synonymous with being lonely?
I've had moments where I start to look around and wonder why it feels like I am on the outside looking in—everyone else is out with couples and doing amazing things with their friends. I've found that those seasons of loneliness have happened because God is trying to speak into my heart. If we aren't willing to drown out the noise by ourselves, then he comes in and removes the distractions. The loneliest times are when God speaks the loudest. There has never been a lonely season of my life that I haven't had a great breakthrough with God. As a single woman there will most likely be lonely moments, but it doesn't mean that a lonely moment is an alone moment or an empty moment. It's an opportunity to draw closer to God and really listen to his voice in a unique way without being distracted.
Why do you think some women struggle with feeling like their lives won't start until they have a ring on their finger?
I think it's an epidemic with women that they feel they aren't whole or worthy without a relationship. I think our culture is somewhat to blame. The influence of culture causes women to feel there is something wrong with them if they are single at a certain age—late twenties, thirties, and beyond. We need to get aligned with who God says we are. If you don't grasp your worth and the fact that you have a great purpose regardless your relationship status, you will never fully feel complete.
In my own journey I'm figuring out that my single time is an uninhibited time to spend with God. It's a great opportunity to chase him and figure out his will for my life. When two people come together in a relationship, they can make each other's future greater, but individually we still have a purpose for our lives that has nothing to do with a man.
I think it's wonderful to want to be married, but in the mean time we can have a special and uninterrupted season to seek God. My number one goal this year is to pursue Jesus with radical abandon. When you are focused on Jesus and becoming the woman that God wants you to be, you have this sparkle and shine that attracts people to you without even meaning to. I've been so focused on Jesus that it's almost been an annoyance to have guys calling me. It's a whole new season for me. When you really get centered in your purpose, you don't even have time to think about the other things.
Have you made the choice to stay single?
I haven't made the commitment to staying single forever; it's just how my life has shaped up. I can look over the past few years and realize that I've had to be single in order to create The Single Woman and speak hope, inspiration, and healing into the lives of other women. It's helped me to see why I'm 35 and single. Do I hope to be married someday? Absolutely. You give off a different energy when you say to yourself, I am open to the potential opportunity for someone to walk into my life and change it forever. When you open yourself up to dating and are prayerful about it, you invite more opportunities to bring people into your life.
I tried online dating for a while. I know a lot of people are afraid of online dating so I figured I would document my progress. I didn't meet anyone in particular, but it still opened up opportunities for me to meet other people. At the beginning of any new relationship, whether it's a dating relationship, business relationship, or a friendship, I pray a prayer asking God to help me with three things: to reveal anything about this person that I am not seeing, to guard my heart, and to remove this person quickly if they are not meant to be in my life. When I say that prayer I know that God has my back and I don't have to worry about how the relationship is going to turn out. When you first meet someone new, pray a prayer like that so you can enter into a relationship or friendship in a healthy way.
An ex-boyfriend of yours cheated on you; how are women able to get back on their feet after something like that?
I wasn't seeking a godly relationship when I was with my ex-boyfriend. If a guy has cheated on you, I would encourage you to ask yourself, Is this a relationship I chose out of my own desires rather than waiting on God to lead me to this relationship? If you come to the realization that it's not a God-centered relationship, walk away. If you feel you are in a God-centered relationship but your boyfriend did something to hurt you, then it has to be a personal decision. Does he feel true remorse, or is he stubbornly unapologetic and won't take responsibility for his own actions? We all make mistakes. I do not condone cheating, but we all mess up in relationships. You need to make the decision whether or not the relationship is too unhealthy and damaged. If it is, then you need to walk away. If you are seeking God first with your relationship, he is going to take care of it regardless of which way it goes.
In your book, you mentioned you "settled for rocks when God wanted to give you diamonds." How can women not settle for someone less than God's best?
It's about knowing your worth. It's so easy to get frustrated and think that you may be single forever. I think it can be tempting to settle out of fear. When you settle for less and then God's best does come along, you won't be open to it because you already settled for something else. Don't make decisions based on fear, especially when it comes to someone who you might spend the rest of your life with. I'm 35, single, and I've never been engaged or married. I would rather be single at this point of my life rather than settle for someone who is just okay. We have to build patience, trust, and surrender to God so that we can understand that he has a plan much better than our own. God gives us free will and will let us settle if that's what we are determined to do. If we chose to settle, we'll never know how great we could have had it. It's sad to me that we sometimes settle for less and choose to live a mundane and mediocre existence. God didn't call us to be mediocre in any area of our lives.
How do you deal with your own discontentment?
I don't struggle with a lot of discontentment. You have to create a life you love regardless of a romantic relationship. A relationship is only going to make you more of who you already are. If you are a miserable and unhappy person, it's not because you aren't in a relationship.
Happiness is internal and not external. Sometimes we think that a job or relationship will make us happy. The heart of my new book is that it's not always about looking at the final destination; it's realizing that our "happily ever after" is an every-single-day journey. It's in every single decision we make, every friendship we build, and every dream we take.
If you are waiting on a man to come and rescue you from your life, then you're going to have a long and unhappy life. Your life should be so amazing that you want to invite someone to join you in it and not to rescue you from it. Combating discontentment is realizing that happiness is not found in a relationship; it's found in you. When you become that happy and joyful person, then you will attract other happy and joyful people, opportunities, and blessings into your life.
What are your plans for Valentine's Day?
I know some women feel displaced or don't have anywhere special to be, so I try to do something special for my single ladies on Valentine's Day. I want to give them something to look forward to. Stay tuned to Twitter to see what I have in store.
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Cassie Jolene Schenck is TCW's former editorial intern. Follow her on Twitter @cassiejolene91.