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    Singled Out for Him Sister: Hannah and the Elephant in the Room

    Thursday, March 21, 2019

    Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and read about Singled Out sister, Hannah, and how God is using her gifts and her singleness to spread the Gospel.

    Several months ago, a well-meaning friend/mentor stopped me in the entryway at church to see how life was going. I had several big decisions related to my job and ministry opportunities. I dove into what God was doing in my life. Doors were opening. Which opportunity should I pursue? Then, it happened. The friend nonchalantly shifted the conversation topic to what he called “the elephant in the room.” I frankly had no idea what he was referring to. Maybe he’s wondering why I haven’t prayed more about my decisions? Turns out the elephant in the room was . . . my singleness.

    The thing is, singleness doesn’t feel like the elephant in the room to me anymore. It seems more like an actual elephant. In Africa. I’m not denying it exists. But, I don’t think about it all the time. And I honestly don’t understand why everyone loves talking about this animal on the other side of the world. It DEFINITELY doesn’t pertain to my current dilemma regarding God’s plan for my life right now. In the past, I spent many discouraging days in the shadow of that elephant. But thankfully, my perspective has shifted.

    I have always enjoyed being involved in ministry at my church. In college, I began to work with a local church plant. I loved every aspect of it: reexamining why we do things and how to be scriptural as we make decisions; watching the Lord grow a group of 10+ people to a full congregation; meeting in a storefront, then renting a church building, and finally purchasing our own land to build; the struggle of ministry and the excitement of new converts. God moved people on to new ministries, built families, and changed lives. I began to believe that God had called me to work in full-time ministry, particularly church-planting. There was only one problem. What did that look for me, as a single woman? The obvious answer seemed to be: marry a church-planter. It was after all the loudest, most popular opinion at the time. However, years came and went. Yet I remained church-planterless. Then, the Lord brought another opportunity into my life.

    Travel Nursing.

    I’m an ICU nurse. Controlled chaos is my jam! After working for a few years, I was ready for a change and saw travel nursing as my chance. Maybe I could combine this desire with my love for church-planting. I could learn about how churches were reaching their communities across the country and even serve and encourage some church-plants along the way. I began praying and seeking counsel. Then, it happened. *insert elephant noises*

    “A single woman moving across the country?!”

    “But what about so and so at church, he seems really nice. You don’t want to wait around to see if he asks you out?”

    “How are you supposed to meet a man if you’re constantly moving?!”

    ”That’s awesome! Now you can scope out the whole country for the right guy.”

    The last one was probably my favorite, but . . . you get the idea. They all saw him - the elephant in the room. At that time, so did I.

    All the fears. You’re alone. You should be married by now. Or at least dating! What’s wrong with you?

    All the comparisons. Look how much easier it is for this married couple. She doesn’t have to worry about the danger or creepiness of traveling alone. They can easily invite other couples over for dinner.  They lead the Bible studies at church.

    All the lies. They’re in ministry. You’re not.

    I began to realize that I could be one of two things: Marriage-minded or Mission-minded.  A marriage-minded person makes decisions based on her proximity to the nearest “potential” in her life. Where’s the single guy at? Put me there!  A mission-minded person wants to be where the Lord is leading her. Marriage-minded women view female friends as competition and guy friends as potential husbands. Mission-minded women seek to build everyone up around them. Marriage-minded people can’t picture themselves happy until they reach that goal; mission-minded people have a more eternal goal in mind. I wanted to be mission-minded. My calling to serve God would be ultimate.

    I am not saying that I never struggled with singleness. But each day was a choice. Am I focusing on the elephant or focusing on the Lord? Do I believe that it is His will for me to serve Him? Will this move/change allow me to do that to the best of my ability? It was a very freeing time in my life, and the best thing about it? God moved in great ways!

    While I was step-by-step pursuing God’s leading, I discovered a love for teaching as well. God allowed me to teach clinicals for two years at a nursing school (Which by the way is where at least two friends thought I’d meet my husband. They can dream, right?). Then I began training new nurses in my ICU. I was discovering gifts and passions all around me. Ministry was everywhere because people are everywhere.

    Now back to that church entryway . . . I eventually did decide which ministry to pursue. God has allowed me to serve in a new role that combines many of my passions: travel, nursing, ministry and teaching. I am now going to be working with medical and nursing students on medical mission trips full-time. Our teams use the tool of medicine to reach people with the gospel all over the world! We build up churches internationally and meet physical needs to point people to Jesus. God is so kind.

    Just to clear things up, I am in no way against marriage! Married Christians have a partner in ministry. That is an incredible thing.  But for those of us who haven’t found it yet, we can still be on mission. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for applying for that new job. Don’t allow them to fear monger ambition out of you. Don’t listen to bad counsel that encourages you to fantasize about that guy. Don’t place your hopes in men and write them into your stories before they belong there.  Don’t let the fear of the unknown, stop you from pursuing what God has called you to right now! You can’t thwart God’s plan for your life. God isn’t watching you go to Africa or make that career move, thinking “man, now she’ll never meet John Joseph Andrews. Guess it’s a life of singleness after all.”

    When I first announced my new opportunity to one friend at work, she had the biggest grin on her face.

    “That’s where he is.”

    “Who?” I asked.

    “Your husband.”

    Maybe the elephant really is still in the room. But the reality is, I’m too excited moving forward to give it much attention. God is writing my story. He has led me step-by-step to prepare me for this next adventure. He is writing yours as well. Whether it includes a love story may still be uncertain. But when we pursue the Lord’s plan, it will be a happy ending.   

    P.S. To all my well-meaning, loving, married friends out there . . .if my elephant ever leaves for good, I’ll be sure to let you know. ;)

    Hannah currently lives in Greenville, SC. She has worked as an ICU nurse for about 5 years. She loves traveling, climbing mountains, and chasing waterfalls with friends. Her most recent adventure will involve moving to Baltimore, MD where she will serve as the Director of Educational Services with Medical Missions Outreach. She will be working with nursing and medical students on short-term mission trips across the globe. If you want to follow her journey through deputation more closely, you can visit her website. 

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