Joy Eggerichs is a blogger, writer, researcher on relationships, sister, new aunt, and daughter of parents who write and speak about marriage. When directing the conferences for her parents’ ministry, Love and Respect, she overheard many attendees say, “If I only knew then what I know now.” After experiencing a painful heartbreak herself, she began to explore what she and her peers needed to know NOW about relationships, singleness and marriage.
Joy made that research her full-time job. She can be found at all hours developing content, tweeting, blogging and taking phone interviews like the one we did below from her favorite cemetery in Portland, Oregon where she lives.
4word: How have your own experiences, like a breakup of a relationship that seemed headed toward marriage, influence what you share with your peers who are single?
Joy: It’s been such a journey of trying to reconcile who God is; asking myself if I really think He is good or not. And that’s something I want my peers to ask themselves now. Belief is foundational. With all the questions I get about relationships, I have come to realize that when any of us are confused and in pain, we must first stop and figure out what we believe.
Do I believe in God? Okay, let’s go from there. Is He good?
So for me, I finally got to the answer of “yes,” and that now shapes the lens with which I see heartache and relationships working or not working out.
I’m not saying if we conclude that God is good that we won’t feel pain. We must feel our feelings, mourn and acknowledge the brokenness. But then what? Can we trust He is up to something greater than what we can comprehend in the moment? This is the question all Christians must ask themselves.
4word: What do you say to a woman who longs to be married, and it’s not happening?
Joy: I believe we were designed to be in partnership – male and female. However, with the delay of marriage, it may not happen for us all. I tried to sort this confusion out in a series I did on “The One” (check it out here). When we look at Psalm 37:4, and we see “delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” it’s pretty hard to believe when our desire for marriage isn’t happening. As I said before, I’ve decided that God is good, however we live in brokenness; thus the perfect picture and design may not happen.
So how do we live in light of that?
I like to think about future generations looking back at us. We are in the middle of a trend. 200 years from now people will look back on our generation and have all kinds of insight on how this delay of marriage affected our culture and our belief system. So in light of what I believe to be God’s design for marriage, I am trying to figure out how we can shift the trend.
But some of us may experience loneliness or the loss of childbearing years due to this trend, which is something many of us long for. If we as believers can expect suffering, maybe that longing for marriage is our suffering. This brokenness can make us decide if we are going to live out the true hope that can come on the heels of suffering that we see in Romans.
4word: Lots of career women today say they don’t care about being married.
Joy: I think many of us say this as protection. I would challenge women to be honest with themselves and be careful how vocal they are about this. And maybe ask an older business woman who by-passed marriage or children. Ask her if she has any regrets. More on this here.
4word: As you offer advice to the next generation, what unique gifts and abilities do you bring?
Joy: I don’t consider myself some kind of expert or that I have some special vision. When I went through my serious break up, I just started crying out for wisdom. When I studied Timothy I noticed that Paul put this responsibility on Timothy to go out and speak truth because he had been given a Godly mother and grandmother. I realized that because of the parents I had been given, I had a responsibility. So, like Timothy I didn’t need to be fearful or feel inadequate but trust the Spirit’s ability to use me in spite of all my personal shortcomings.
4word: What good things do you experience as a single girl?
Joy: There is so much space I have for quiet. I enjoy thinking. It can look like loneliness sometimes but I try to translate and reframe it. When friends move into a great relationship and marriage I genuinely express delight for them, and while I mourn that it might not happen for me, I realize the responsibility I have to do things they may not be able to do in their current season. Regardless of my season, I can serve God radically – not because I am single, but because I keep asking God to reveal himself, and He then makes a way. This has been a testing but overall “good” experience and season. Probably how most of my life will end up being described.
4word: Where do you get the energy to take it to “radical”?
Joy: When Paul talks about singleness being a gift, and that it’s better if you don’t marry, I don’t think he’s saying singleness is superior. I hear him saying that it’s better if you’re on mission for God. If you don’t have that family, it’s better because you don’t have that distraction from your service.
It’s easy for us all, single and married, to struggle and feel like we’re not doing anything, and compare our limitations to the freedoms of the other side. “If I had parents like Joy, I would do something cool like that too.” “They are single so they have time to do ____.” “They are married so they have a husband that they can do _____ with.” We have to stop that. It’s distracting us.
4word: I’ve noticed that on some pretty sensitive topics, you validate points from all sides, go to scripture for guidance where you can, but end some dialogues saying you’re still wrestling. Where does this leave your audience?
Joy: Unless I point people back to the question of “what do you believe?”, transformation is not going to happen. If you are getting stuck on “why is this happening for me?”, I really want to see you challenge the core of what you believe, then be vocal about it, then watch what God does with that.
In a Beth Moore study, she told a story about when she was five. She was convinced she wanted to ride to kindergarten on a baby elephant, and kept begging her aunt to buy her one. Later her aunt described how much she delighted in the fact that Beth would ask her for that elephant. While her aunt wanted to give it to her, she knew what was best, and, of course, didn’t get one.
It’s almost a spiritual discipline for us to ask in the midst of our fear, in the midst of our suffering. Why would you keep asking for something that may not happen? There’s something supernatural about asking – let’s not let our logic or fear keep us from asking God for what we long for. When I ask, it’s a reflection of what I believe.
Want to continue the discussion with Joy? Check out her site at www.loveandrespectNOW.com or follow her on Twitter: @joyeggerichs