- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Living as a single Christian in America’s “hypersexualized, intimacy-starved society” can be difficult, says Connally Gilliam, 41, who offers firsthand advice for singles in her new book, “Revelations of a Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn’t Expect.”

A resident of Arlington who works for the faith-based organization Navigators, Miss Gilliam writes with a Christian perspective from her personal experiences as a single woman. The following are excerpts of an interview with Miss Gilliam:

Q: There are so many books about singleness and relationships and gender issues. Why did you write a book?

A: I really didn’t want to write a book. And I didn’t really want to write a book about singleness, because who wants to be the poster child for singleness? This book is different because it’s not a how-to book. It doesn’t really tell you how to get a man or how to live well without a man. It’s more a collection of stories of where God is showing up in a confused relational landscape. My desire in writing is to give people hope. They’re not alone. God is good and showing up. Life is an adventure to be lived.

Q: You said, “Making ourselves the center of the universe seems to be the source of our great stink.” How would you advise people to avoid the “great stink”?

A: It is human nature, so there is something that we’re always warring against that in ourselves. I do think choosing consciously to invest ourselves in other people’s well-being is really crucial. One, it gives us practice actually serving. And two, it reminds us of our own limitations, which reminds me that I’m not God. It’s like a double-whammy good.

Q: What kind of advice would have for singles who feel unrooted in today’s transient society?

A: Apart from knowing the Creator, we never fully know who we are as creatures. My primary piece of advice is to know and continue to know more deeply the Creator. My second piece of advice is be willing to risk committing at least for defined periods of time. It’s a great irony for folks in their 20s; typically a group of people who are very hungry for community. But when it comes to making commitment, there is hesitation. It’s really hard to have community without commitment.

Q: Do you have any tips for single women who are living in what you call a “hypersexualized, intimacy-starved society”?

A: Naming it. In a place like D.C., there’s a tendency to look down on intimacy. To say “Oh, I’m lonely,” “I’d like someone to love my heart” or “I yearn for meaningful connection” can sometimes be considered weak to people. It’s right on the fringe of saying, “I’m needy, I’m pitiful, I can’t make it on my own.” And who wants to say that?

One of the ways of moving forward is acknowledging we are created for intimacy and we are created for meaningful connection, and to desire that or to feel an ache in its absence is actually, totally legitimate.

Q: How do you live as a single Christian woman and avoid the whole “Jesus is my boyfriend” thing?

A: The whole “Jesus is my boyfriend” thing is gross. Jesus is not your boyfriend. I mean, He is the lover of your soul, but He’s not going to take you out on a date on a Friday night. It does not work that way. If you look at Psalms, you see how David constantly poured out his heart to God, but he was also a person of action.

We pour out our heart, we admit our ache to our friends and then we do what is in our power to do. It doesn’t guarantee that the ache goes away. We grow up to realize the ache is part of life.

Q: How many single women are single today because their expectations were too high or unrealistic when they were younger?

A: I’ve wondered that about myself. Though you have to make the best decision you can make at the time. I do think the expectations shifted over the years. There was not necessarily the expectation of “I need somebody to fundamentally protect me socially and provide for me economically,” because there’s a sense of which women starting at about my age and younger were trained to be able to do that for themselves. The greatest need and desire was emotional connection or intimacy, which most men are not capable of until they are a bit older. I think in my case that might have created an expectation that was not realistic.

Q: Are you on any online dating Web sites?

A: I’m not currently doing that. And you know, I might go back on to the whole online thing. I’m open to it. It’s one of those things you have to be at the right place in your life to do.

Q: How are things in your love life now?

A: My desire is still strong to have somebody special to whom I’m special and to have a relationship that is growing in intimacy. I would like that. But I have to admit, there’s not a big group of guys where I’m like “Whoo! I’d like that with you!” But one day at a time. You can’t predict about tomorrow at all.

Q: Do you think that’s a healthy way to live, one day at a time?

A: I go very much one day at a time, because I think really that’s a whole lot of what the life of faith is. It takes the knowledge that there is a good God who is with me so I don’t have to fear that if I step, I will hit a land mine.

It takes courage to live in a chaotic landscape that’s not well defined. And the previous generation, the boomers, they’re like, “That’s so exciting! You’re so free, you can do whatever.” And I’m like, “I think I’m going to be sick.”

Living as a single Christian woman today it’s important to know where true north is. I don’t have a map, but a compass. I know what orientation is true north to say “I’m going to trust that if I go on this adventure with some people I love whom I’m in communion with along the way. God will lead us and it will be good.” And then there really is an adventure.

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