Dear Navigator, Temptation is Real…Like, Really Real

I recently heard a sermon about David’s fall at the hands of a woman.

That’s not exactly how the preacher put it, but it’s essentially what he was saying. David, a man after God’s own heart, stumbled and fell because he desired something he couldn’t have: another man’s wife. David, a king with hundreds of thousands ready to die for him, faltered because of one thing: another man’s wife. What does this chapter in the book of his life teach us? I take from it two things. First, he’s human. Second, temptation is all too real.

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that no one is above being tempted? Even Jesus, the Son of God, was faced with moments when he could have simply given into what Satan was offering him (food, power, and riches). Can we stop and take this in for a minute? Lucifer went so far as to try to get Jesus, the Lamb of God, to forsake his own Father. If that doesn’t put things into perspective about the power of temptation and the lengths at which Satan will go to deceive us, I don’t know what will.

Now, Jesus had just come off a fast. (Read Matthew 4 for the full story!). He was weak, and food would have been great. Nevertheless, he resists the devil’s advances and responds with Bible verses. Three times Satan tried to get Jesus to give in, and three times the Prince of Peace refused. He stood his ground and thwarted any plans Satan had for him that day.

Let’s be real: we don’t come close to being Jesus. When a beautiful, caring man enters our lives and whispers all those sweet nothings, most of us are all too eager to plan forever with him. When that same handsome man appears to have everything we’re looking for, we may be quick to ignore the fact that he’s missing the most important criteria: a relationship with God. I think it’s fitting to write about this, fellow navigator, because it’s a situation that I have found myself in one time too many.

The story is always the same. We meet, get to know each other, talk about every nonsensical issue under the sun, then eventually make our way to the serious topics. This is the make it or break it moment in determining if the relationship will live or die. In most cases, the feelings of “love” fizzle as we realize we’re not as compatible as we thought. We’re not pursuing God in the same way. We don’t have similar views on family or how children should be raised. We don’t think about marriage and the role each other will play the same. How can a relationship lead to forever when we don’t see eye-to-eye about these vital topics? It can’t. And it doesn’t.

I mentioned David earlier for a reason. Before I say what it is, let me just state that relationships are difficult to navigate. We are deceived by our eyes and mind to think that what we don’t want is what we need and vice versa. Temptation rears its ugly head each and every time we think we are strong in an area. It uncovers our weak spots, takes advantage of us, then leaves us high and dry to pick ourselves back up after we’ve fallen to the ground.

With regard to David, even though he could have had any single woman in the nation, temptation in the form of lust led him to pursue a married woman. He was captivated by Bathsheba’s naked form and, not being where he should have been (fighting with the army), he gave into the temptation. This critical moment caused him to take other actions that would lead to his downfall. (I encourage you to read the story in Matthew 4 to get the full context.)

Temptation rears its ugly head each and every time we think we are strong in an area.

I’m no Bible scholar, but I believe we’re all susceptible, like David, to having weak moments. (After all, we are human!) We see a man we want and go after him with reckless abandon. It’s not until after our hearts have become tied to this person that we discover the skeletons in his closet. He may be married. He might not believe in monogamy. He doesn’t believe in marriage. Or, the one that causes many women strong in the faith to waver, he might not have a relationship with God. Period.

It is temptation that leads us to a place of indecision about what to do next. We weigh pros and cons and try to find ways to make the relationship work. Slowly, after reflecting on all the good feelings we had with this man, some of us decide that life with him is better than life without him. Translation: We choose him over our convictions. Why is this important? Why should we care? Aren’t relationships supposed to be about compromise? Yes, compromise is a key word when it comes to relationships. But, if we must compromise the beliefs that make us who we are, then we are living a lie.

Remember that story in the Bible when Jesus talks about those people who would come and say how they did all those things in his name? What did he say back to them? He said he would tell them to depart from him because he didn’t know them. Yes, they did great things in his name, but their hearts were far from him. Translation: They professed him and did good deeds, but they didn’t really know him. If they knew him, they would have had a relationship with him. If they had had a relationship with him, they would have obeyed his teachings. If they had obeyed his teachings, they would not have entered into relationships with men who didn’t know him because he clearly states that being unequally yoked is not what’s up.

Fellow navigator, relationships do require compromise. However, when compromise comes in the form of ignoring our deal-breakers, we shouldn’t do it. They are called “deal-breakers” for a reason. That good man you want more than anything, the one who makes every other guy before him look like a chump, is not worth disobeying God. I know that not everyone might receive this message; I didn’t write it for everyone. This blog post is one written from a place of vulnerability as a reminder to myself and women like me who have been tempted to give up on faith because they question if another good man will present himself.

What are your thoughts, fellow navigator? Have you ever found yourself in this place? Tell me about it!

Not I: Forsaking My Beliefs for a Man?

It seems like we just met yesterday. He was tall, had an athletic build, and charmed me off my feet. We conversed in English, French, and Spanish. We spent hours watching movies, laughing about silly things, and talking about our future. I enjoyed every moment of our time together; it just felt right. However, we broached a topic that brought my happily-ever-after fantasy to an end.

“By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men.”

Fellow navigator, please hear my heart. I’m not condemning those in mixed-faith relationships. If you are able to make it work, then more power to you. My purpose in telling that very real story is to illustrate a situation I’ve found myself in on more than one occasion. I meet a man. We hit it off. Then, we end up at a crossroads because our beliefs don’t align. By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men. They were decent guys who would make just about any woman happy, but they were not for me.

If I say that my faith is a major part of who I am but hide it from the one I claim to want to spend forever with, then it never really held such a high place in my life. If I openly profess Christ to total strangers but fail to talk about him to my partner, then I am no better than Peter before the crucifixion. If I continue being with a man who denies the existence of a God I know to be real and true, then I am just like Judas and lead a double life.

“There is grace.”

There is grace, fellow navigator. God can change the heart of anyone at any point and time that He so chooses. I don’t doubt this. My apprehension comes when I knowingly enter into a relationship with a man who is at enmity with God or has his own views about faith that completely differ from mine.

There must be something in the water, fellow navigator, because I hear similar stories of women who’ve had to choose between a seemingly good man and God. Based on those I know, the ones who chose the former live good lives but have strayed from the faith. The ones who chose the latter continue to live on their own terms but have yet to say “I do.” It begs the question of why God would allow women who willingly choose Him to remain single…but that’s a post for another day.

Fellow navigator, have you ever found yourself in a position where you had to choose between God or a guy? What did you do? If you’ve tried having a mixed-faith relationship, how did it go? Tell me about it!

Dear Navigator, I Accept that I’m a Different Kind of Woman

Once upon a time, I thought there was something wrong with me because men weren’t knocking down my door. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, or worthy of the attention of a man. Several relationships ended because I wouldn’t “give it up” within the time frame deemed by my partner. (It’s sad to say that even the holiest of Christian men struggle with their libido.) Knowing that I deserved more, I did the only natural thing to keep myself from going down the endless road of trying to contort myself to fit a man’s image of who I should be—I buried myself in work.

If some of us women are honest, I wonder if we share a similar experience. How many of us who have been labeled as “career-driven” would say that our jobs only became a priority because we realized the men who were trying to capture our attention weren’t anything to write home about? I mean, I would much rather focus on my work and making my dreams come true than put all my energy into a relationship with a man who only views me as an option. Has this been true for you?

Fellow navigator, we’ve been greatly wronged in the way we’ve been conditioned. As young girls, we were taught to be meek and mild-mannered. Many of us grew up believing women were to be seen, not heard. We were told to suppress our sexual urges and act daintily in public. We were brought up to believe that everything a man says goes; we should never question his decision. We were instructed to put our lives on hold to focus our attention on family and home. Some of us were even raised not to dream or have aspirations of our own because only what the men in our lives wanted mattered.

I use the pronoun “we” when discussing the erroneous ways many of us were brought up because, at some time or another, we’ve all been faced with situations where our womanhood was called into question. For some, we’ve even had to choose between the wishes of our families and the desires birthed inside of us wanting to come out. As women, because of our sex, we are viewed as “weak.” Men say we need protecting because are fragile, and that is what they use to justify dominating our lives. Granted, not every woman lives like this. But it breaks my heart to think of the millions of women who continue to live in male-dominated societies and are never given the opportunity to discover their identities outside of the closest man in their lives. Their pain is my pain. But I digress…

I am not a bad woman or poor choice for a wife because I have ambition. In fact, I believe that makes me wife material because I’m the kind of woman who supports and encourages the one she’s with to pursue his dreams. When he feels like giving up, I’m the lone cheerleader letting him know he can do it. When the world beats him up and spits him out, I’m the safe haven he can find rest in and know that he still matters. I’m the woman who isn’t concerned with whether he’s bringing home all the proverbial bacon because I’m contributing, too.

He’s not my sugar daddy, feel good machine, or arm candy. No, he is my friend, partner, and confidante. We don’t have to concern ourselves with what the world thinks because we’ve learned each other and grown together. Society may try to pull us apart, but it’s really us against the world.

Not every man is deserving of me. If you are a real one, fellow navigator, the same holds true for you. At just about every turn, your femininity may be called into question. And that’s ok. The wrong dude might say you’re not a “good woman” because you don’t allow him to win at everything. You might be labeled “too masculine” because you decide to go after what you want instead of waiting for it to be given to you. You may be considered “not soft enough” because you drive better and faster than many men.

I’m the kind of woman who supports and encourages the one she’s with to pursue his dreams.

One of the worst things you can do is lower your standards to match a man who isn’t worthy of you. Instead, keep working and grinding until the man who sees your value shows up. Recognizing him will be easy. He’ll be the one who sticks around at times when others have left. He fights fair and doesn’t hit below the belt during an argument. He’ll listen when you speak about your insecurities and fears, then do what he needs to do to make you feel safe. These men are few and far in between. They aren’t perfect by any means, but they know how to spot a good woman—another kind of woman—and work to keep her.

Fellow navigator, I wish someone had sat me down and told me that it was ok to be a different kind of woman before I entered the world of dating. To be honest, maybe someone did. Maybe I didn’t receive it or recognize the words as wisdom at the time. Nevertheless, I found myself in a pattern of dating the same type of man but only with a different name. What dating gems have you learned and currently apply to your life? Tell me about it!

Not I: Afraid of Commitment?

When you’ve been single for any amount of years and believe you’re ready for a serious relationship, there’s no getting around the topic of commitment. A committed relationship is one in which both parties agree to put in the effort necessary to make the union work. It’s sacrificing precious sleep after a day of only texting just to hear his voice. It’s banging out items on your to-do list so that you can give him your undivided attention. It’s having open, honest conversations with him about your concerns when he says or does things that don’t sit well with you.

“A committed relationship is one in which both parties agree to put in the effort necessary to make the union work.”

If truth be told, I’m the only one who can determine whether I’m ready for a commitment or not. Sure, a therapist or trusted friend can ask thought-provoking questions and give me objective feedback or insight into my responses. However, I must make the final decision to move forward and step out or hang back and continue working on myself. There’s no shame in either decision because, ultimately, I’m the one who will be putting my heart on the line.

Being transparent, I can honestly say that I’m not afraid of commitment. I have no qualms with remaining loyal to one man and forsaking all others. It’s not a problem for me to carve out time in my schedule to make him feel like a priority. There’s no issue with allowing him to see me fail, cry, or lash out in anger about something that hurt me. Staying true to one man and seeing if the relationship can turn into something more has never been an obstacle for me.

No, I’m not afraid of commitment. I fear the hurt and pain that comes with choosing the wrong person. Because I seldom pick my head up from my books or work to give a man my time, dating can be quite challenging. Despite being a good judge of character when it comes to my friends’ boyfriends and love interests, I don’t always make the best choices for myself.

“I have no qualms with remaining loyal to one man and forsaking all others.”

Since I’m not active in the dating scene, I don’t always know the latest lines or schemes men try to pull on women. I see what I believe is a good man and allow him to pursue me until he proves me wrong. While this may not be the best method when it comes to dating, it’s what I know. As a result, my naivete has led to some dead ends.

Now, I’m not out in these streets dating a ton of men. But the ones who have been granted access to my heart, only to break it into pieces, really did a number on me. They’re the dudes who cause a woman to enter into a new relationship with all sorts of walls up, leaving her vigilant of any and all possible red flags the next dating prospect displays. Even if this new man is truly who she desires, she may make him jump through several hoops just to prove he won’t hurt her like the last one she let into her world.

This is all to say that, fellow navigator, we must get to a point where we face our fears of possibly getting hurt or choosing the wrong person before giving another man permission to pursue. If we do so, without becoming whole, the relationship becomes doomed from the start. It is built on a shaky foundation that’s likely to crumble at any moment because we enter into it anticipating that the man will fail us in some way. We desire to give him a chance, but we stand guard for that one moment when his humanity shows that he’s not a perfect creature.

While I can honestly say that I’m not afraid of committing to a man. I can’t honestly say that I’m ready, willing, or able to trust a man with all that is me simply because he makes his interest known. He hasn’t earned my trust. He hasn’t proven that he’s worthy of my devotion. Short of approaching me and expressing his desire for a relationship, he has done nothing to make me believe that he will love me, honor our union, and protect my heart. As a result, I don’t give him all of me. Instead, I sit and watch as he steps up and shows up. I observe his behavior when he’s discouraged, mad, happy, and even depressed. I allow him to get to know me on a deeper level, little by little, until I’m comfortable opening my entire heart to him because he’s shown that he can handle it. That’s what all those frogs from my past have taught me; the real man is easy to spot when you know what you don’t want, need, or deserve.

Fellow navigator, am I alone in this way of thinking? Have you come to the realization that you’re not afraid of commitment but fear choosing the wrong person? What insight have you received about yourself that makes dating just any random man who calls you beautiful hard to do? Tell me about it!

Not I: Waiting on a Fairy Tale?

Disney did me dirty. I’ve definitively decided that my daughters will not be exposed to Disney princess stories during their formative years. Why? Because I am absolutely sick and tired of the way young girls are conditioned to believe they’re in need of saving. Of course, Disney is not the only guilty culprit in this atrocity against girls. No, there are other companies producing content that teaches girls that they are the inferior sex. I wasn’t born in this country, but Disney’s reach goes far beyond the United States. From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side. He was my protector, source of financial security, and only hope in avoiding a life of utter loneliness (aka being an old maid).

“From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side.”

After spending some time in introspection, I realized the lessons I learned from princess stories took root deeper than I’d known. As a young, impressionable child, I was taught that girls were dainty, well-mannered, prudent, homely, and soft-spoken. We were to wear beautiful dresses, perform our domestic chores, and remain silent in the presence of men. I was shown that our fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers had final authority over us. It was acceptable for us to be locked away in a room somewhere to only enjoy the company of animals and imaginary friends, and it was perfectly alright for us to sacrifice our dreams to make another’s come true.

Arguably the biggest lessons princesses taught me were about romantic relationships. In books, TV shows, and movies, I saw that girls were expected to be married at a young age. Many of them were not educated or did not pursue higher education. A proper young lady was also trained in domesticity and had very few friends outside of family members. She never explored foreign lands or conquered dragons. No, she stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.

She waited patiently for a man to come and to rescue her. She didn’t question his decisions, wonder why he never asked for her opinion, or consider that there was more to her life. When conversing with a suitor, the young lady never inquired about his goals, fears, past relationships, or plans for their future. She didn’t want to know whether he was kind to his mother, had character flaws that might make the success of their marriage challenging, or cared about what she wanted in life. There were no discussions about children, religious affiliations, or political sidings. To make matters worse, there was never ever any talk about finances or how money would be handled in the relationship. These are all important things young girls must learn prior to marriage to avoid becoming stuck in relationships where they are unheard, unloved, and unappreciated.

“She stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.”

The fairy tale was filled with smiles, laughter, music, dancing, and colorful outfits, but it always ended before the real relationship began. The man endured adversity and braved whatever obstacles came in his way to get his human reward, but that was all she was—a prize. Once the rush of the pursuit was over, the story ended. After he won her heart, things miraculously became spectacular. We were told they lived happily ever after. This is not reality, and it’s far from what I desire.

Relationships are messy. People are fickle. We’re hot, cold, and wishy-washy when it comes to just about everything. I’m not waiting on a fairy tale because it is riddled with untruths. I’m not helpless. I’m unwilling to always be the one to sacrifice what matters most when my partner consistently gets what he wants. I’m more than my cooking, sewing, and cleaning skills.

I wish someone had told me fairy tales weren’t one-size-fits-all from the very beginning. This isn’t what I want my daughters growing up to believe. It’s probably safe to say that the dream of obtaining the fairy tale, as presented through the lens of Disney, no longer applies to me. Nevertheless, I continue to proudly reject its stereotypes and stand as a dissident. Life was never meant to be lived according to a specific blueprint. Quite frankly, outside of serving God and representing Christ well on this earth, everything else is up to me.

Fellow navigator, which fairy tale did you enjoy growing up? What love story did you secretly wish would become yours? When did you have the realization that life was not a fairy tale? Tell me about it!

Not I: Side Chick? Mistress?

Call me conservative, old-fashioned, a prude, or whatever term you want, but I still believe in monogamy in a relationship. For decades I have watched the older generation in communities I’ve been part of at various times in my life exert the energy needed to make their relationships work. Yes, some of those marriages ultimately fell apart. However, the vast majority are still alive and kicking to this day.

As an observer on the outside looking in, I’ve often wondered if either partner ever had the urge to cheat. I mean, some of the relationships appeared to be so bad that I wouldn’t have blamed one partner for filing for divorce and walking away in search of love in another’s arms. Watching these couples work through their mess, I learned some valuable lessons about love, marriage, and why side chicks and mistresses are so common these days.

If our earthly unions are supposed to be representative of Christ’s love for the Church, then I think we fail miserably when we throw our hands in the air and give up on each other too quickly. Believe me, I am the first to admit that I am guilty of walking away from people and relationships too often. At the first sign of conflict, I am usually ready at the door with my bags packed. It wasn’t until a few years ago that God and I had some real conversations about my aversion to conflict, resulting in my inability to grow in this area of my life.

“If our earthly unions are supposed to be representative of Christ’s love for the Church, then I think we fail miserably when we throw our hands in the air and give up on each other too quickly.”

I believe the Bible when it says that marriage is intended for one man and one woman, meaning we shouldn’t have multiple marriage partners. It’s 2020 and people live all sorts of lifestyles, but I choose to hold firm to this belief. I trust that when my husband finds me, he will leave his family so that the two of us can become one. It is in that union that I pray we will walk alongside each other on good days and bad ones. Call me an idealist, but I want to be with one man “until death do us part.” Those aren’t hollow, meaningless words—they represent a love that I believe people long for but seldom desire to work toward.

Some years ago, a guy asked if I would consider being his side piece. True story. Of course, those weren’t his exact words. No. He only stated that he wanted me to remain in the picture as a romantic interest even though he was about to marry another woman. Clearly, he didn’t love me or this woman. I had finally decided to give in to his pursuit, but the timing ended up being bad. But I learned more about this guy’s character in that brief phone call than in the years I had known him. I also recognized that his reason for asking me to play a romantic role in his life was not because he was madly in love with me; he had no intention of calling off his wedding.

Rather, this man didn’t want me—he wanted victory. I was the woman he couldn’t charm for years, so he jumped at the chance to finally say he landed me. It really is true that men enjoy the chase. To him, me saying that I was open to the idea of a relationship (prior to learning he had become engaged) was a sign of status because he could flaunt his trophy to the world. Yup, I said it. That’s what I was to him—a trophy. At that time, I was leading a different kind of life, so people knew my name and my ambition was my driving force. After that call, he made several attempts to contact me and start something romantic, but I blocked them all. Eventually, he must have realized he didn’t stand a chance and went away.

“That’s what I was to him—a trophy.”

The thought of sharing a man with another woman makes me cringe. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that so much is exchanged in a romantic relationship that I wouldn’t want my man to be intimate in that kind of way with someone else. No, I’m not just talking about sex. Being with someone means being intellectually, emotionally, and physically vulnerable. When it’s just he and I, it brings me some comfort to know that the connections we share are just between us. However, when he is that same way with another woman, I question the authenticity of what was exchanged.

To sum it all up, I don’t think I would ever become a side chick or mistress. I love too hard and too deep for that. If a man can’t or won’t commit to me, then I’d rather walk away from the relationship before it gets too serious. What about you, fellow navigator? What are your thoughts concerning polyamorous or polygamous relationships? Tell me about it!

See Me: Not the Same, Know My Name

To the Next Man Who Captures My Heart: An Open Letter

I’m sorry I made you jump through so many hoops, but I needed to make sure you were willing to work for my heart. I say that only because men before you have pranced around and behaved as though they could handle a woman like me. As you look around and see that you’re the only one standing, it means they failed in their follow-through. In the process, believe me that I stopped to ask myself what made you different. Was it because you refused to allow me to push you away? Or maybe it was because you were patient and gave me the space I needed to work through my mess?

Regardless of how you became the last man standing, know that you are now the recipient of a love that will fight for us. I am prepared to honor, respect, and cherish you. Although we hope and will work toward a love that leads to marriage and a beautiful God-fearing family, anything can happen in this life. Despite all of that, you are the only man I see. There may be others who try to make themselves known, but they will always be in the background as you take center stage.

Only you!

When we met, there were many misunderstandings. We struggled with being vulnerable with each other because past hurts from relationships made us guarded. Though we never talked about it until later in our relationship, neither of us wanted to give up on the other because this time it felt different. When I try to explain it to others, I’m at a loss for words because I can’t. There was something about you; I wanted to see where things would lead.

Even when you annoyed me and made me want to tear my hair out, I couldn’t get myself to completely walk away. There were times when I turned my back on you, but you followed me and showed me why I should stay. There are many uncertainties on the path we’re on, but I know that I’ll be ok with you by my side.

Let’s do this!

You are not my savior; you are my partner. You support me when I feel like giving up. You cheer me up when I’m sad. You tell me I’m awesome when the world tries to beat me up. You defend me when others question my abilities. You endorse me in public, regardless of what others may think. For all these reasons (and more), I gladly (and proudly) call you mine.

There are many uncertainties on the path we’re on, but I know that I’ll be ok with you by my side.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

It is now my turn to speak some things to you. I am not her. I will never try to be her, nor do I ever want to be her. I won’t ever resent her for all she put you through. I’m sorry that it led to heartache and feeling like you were unworthy, but that made you so much stronger. The harsh reality is that, if she hadn’t completely been blind to the amazing man you are, you wouldn’t know how to recognize the one who would when she stares you in your beautiful eyes.

The truth is, I’m grateful to her. Because she couldn’t see all you could be, she gave up and left. It wasn’t that you were without vision, ambition, or goals; she just wasn’t the one meant to accompany you on the way to where all that’s in you leads. Who knows why God allows things to happen the way they do. Oftentimes, in the midst of what seem like horrible storms of life, we wake up to realize we were actually spared from what could have been worse. The growth you experienced while with her makes you an even better man for me because you see me and understand my worth. As much as I hate to admit it, she made you a better man.

You just weren’t meant to stop there.

We’ve been through some hard times and made it out on the other side. After all of that, I can’t possibly abandon you. As your number one fan, I promise to do all I can to encourage you on your way to the top. I’ll stand by your side when everyone else says it’s impossible. I’ll show up and be the loudest one in the crowd when you prove them wrong. From the time we met until now, I’ve seen your character, and you’ve seen mine. At the end of the day, all I can say is that she and I are not the same, know my name.

Fellow navigator, do you know how you are in romantic relationships? Do you test your prospective partner until he proves he’s deserving of you? What would you want the one who dares to stick around when everyone else has left to know? Tell me about it!

Mental Musings: Writing to Remember

words Can break cycles

My published words kept me from ruining a relationship that was being tested.

Almost two months ago, I published the book, Defiant! Redefining Singleness at 30+, because I wanted to document some critical life events that have led me to being 30 and single. What originally started as a series of letters to my unborn adult daughter, reassuring her that being 30+ and single isn’t a bad thing, turned into a manifesto of sorts. I poured a lot of my personal life onto the pages because I needed to get out my frustrations, joys, and feelings of loneliness that I’ve experienced on this journey.

While writing Defiant!, I felt like I was setting myself free from people’s expectations and assumptions about my relationship status. I intentionally chose to write it in the style I did because I wanted it to serve as a reminder of the thoughts and emotions I experienced; I knew those feelings would creep up again during the most inconvenient times on my journey as a single woman. I wrote about the pain of relocating and feeling like I didn’t have friends. In the book, I share about my struggles with my body image and other insecurities.

Yeah…

In as much as I wrote this book for my unborn daughter, if truth be told, I also wrote it for myself. Being single at 30 doesn’t feel the same as other ages. I don’t know if I’ve quite nailed down why this age carries so much weight in the life of a single woman, but I’ve decided not to allow a number to define who I am and what I’ve done. I thought being able to chronicle my experiences was a sign that I had conquered this area of my life; I was wrong.

Have you ever written something, put it aside, then gone back to it only to realize it was just what you needed in your lowest point? That’s what Defiant! Redefining Singleness at 30+ is for me. I wrote it because I didn’t want my unborn daughter listening to the lies of this world about her relationship status and what it means for her identity.

I’ve decided not to allow a number to define who I am and what I’ve done.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

A few weeks ago, I had a moment where I felt like I was going in a cycle with a particular relationship. A guy friend and I were having horrible communication issues. It was so bad that I had been feeling really low about myself. He made some pretty harsh comments and said things that left me questioning my identity and consistency as a friend. (In hindsight, his behavior was probably triggered out of place of his own pain and frustration with what had happened in our relationship.) The problem was that, though I’d never uttered the words, I had been entertaining the idea of this friendship becoming more. He never knew these thoughts were going through my head, but I had been closely observing our interactions to see if he was someone who could have a more valuable role in my life. Therefore, what he said took an even greater toll on me because I questioned whether I measured up as someone he could be with.

After his painful words, I wondered if there was truth to his remarks. Had I been exhibiting those behaviors? Was I the cause of confusion in relationships? Did I really push people away? The questions kept coming, but I saw no answers in sight. One day, when I was ready to do something that was out of my character in desperation to keep this man in my life, I had a passing thought that I should read my book. I found my copy on my bookshelf, opened to the chapter about not chasing dudes, and read. In those pages, I found the exact words I longed for someone to tell me in that moment.

Totally needed that pep talk!

You know what I did after closing the pages? I pushed pause on moving forward with my plan to communicate with this man, opened my laptop, and allowed my thoughts to fill the pages. I didn’t want to appear emotionally unstable by saying something to him I wouldn’t be able to take back. I’d been in this place before. I know that when my emotions are running wild, my ability to think rationally goes out the window. If I’m unable to break things down into logical steps, I go into panic mode because my brain can’t process what’s going on. This is not the case for everyone. Being single and having more than enough time to get to know myself, I’ve learned to recognize my patterns.

It was then that I saw the value of my book. Whether I sell 20 copies or 20 million, I don’t care. If writing this book was simply for me to have a guide for when life felt like it was going in cycles, I’m glad I did.

Gotta encourage yourself!

Fellow navigator, books, like music, are powerful tools that can bring healing and save lives. Are you an author? Did you ever have a similar experience? What’s the name of a book that has changed your life? Tell me about it!

See Me: Defiantly Single

trailblazer? Me? No, Thank you.

Almost everything in my world seems to scream that marriage is the natural next phase of life. Do you understand where I’m coming from? To say I’m living this single life on my own terms would capture my sentiments perfectly. Trailblazer? Me? No, thank you. I just reject the notion that I can’t be happy at 30 if I don’t have a man.

In a recent conversation with a friend, we discussed our realities and why marriage is not on the table for me at the moment. Although my friend is married, our dialogue proved fruitful in getting to the root of this whole I’m-cool-with-not-being-married thing. By the way, I totally encourage you to have similar conversations with your married friends because it appears that they forget what life was like before someone put a ring on it. It’s not their fault; they just become blinded by love.

Lost in his eyes!

Probably the biggest reason I’m perfectly content being single until God decides to do something about it is because, real talk, the divorce rates these days are beyond nuts. How did we, as a society, get to the point where we are fine with marriages ending left and right for the most minor infraction?

Hear me clearly, fellow navigator, I am not saying any woman should stay in a marriage where some dude (because he’s not worthy to be called a “man”) abuses her in any way, shape, or form. I’m talking about relationships where we just wake up one day and decide we don’t want to be together. In my opinion, because I’m sharing life from my perspective, marriage is too sacred to be entered into lightly. If I’m going to stand before God, my family, and a bunch of friends to boldly declare that I’ll be with a man “until death do us part,” best believe I will work my hardest to honor those vows. On the flip side, if my husband ever steps out or abuses me in any way, shape, or form, best believe I’m gone without so much as a letter or text explaining my actions.

These men aren’t perfect, but they consistently consider their wives before they consider themselves.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

This brings me to my first point: marriage isn’t taken as seriously as days passed. In my book, Defiant! Redefining Singleness at 30+, I share about being a single woman navigating life and some of the issues I face regularly. I mention the topic of marriage because we’re sending the wrong message to younger generations. Order a copy from my website if you want to read more.

Now that we’ve got that shameless plug out of the way, let’s get back to the issue at hand. If I’m honest, after the initial feelings of joy of meeting a potential love interest wear off, my mind goes to figuring out if this is someone I want. Will he stay and fight for the relationship? I watch his character, pay attention to his words, and listen to hear the slightest hint of someone who is fickle, not serious, or untrustworthy. Am I being harsh? Probably. Do I care? No.

Got that right!

When you’ve grown up with the kind of models of husbands who fear God and strive to love their wives as Christ loves the Church as I have, you see what a godly man looks like. These men aren’t perfect, but they consistently consider their wives before they consider themselves. Sometimes that means the man swallows his pride to do something he doesn’t want to, and other times it means his wife coming back to him and apologizing for some action that was uncalled for.

Can I tell you something? I’ve been told in confidence by married friends that they were on the verge of divorce for reasons outside of infidelity and abuse, but both parties surrendered the union to God and sought counsel from qualified professionals. Why bring this up? Because I don’t know if this happens with younger people, which is why I’m concerned about the ridiculously high divorce rate.

Yes, there are many factors that contribute to a marriage dissolving, but we need to start talking about the challenges of marriage beforehand instead making it out to be this idealistic union. A marriage can never be perfect, no matter what those of us on the outside think, because it’s two imperfect people becoming one. Outside of the grace of God, there’s no way that combination ends in perfection. Let’s do ourselves a favor and stop looking to marriage to make our lives worth living.

‘Til death do us part.

Fellow navigator, I think we should end here for today. As I sit at my desk, I realize there’s so much more I’d like to say about the reasons behind choosing to be defiantly single. I think this will become a series to highlight some of the realities of how marriage looks to me, a single woman who has never been in that union. You may not always agree with my views, but I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you as perplexed by the current divorce rate as I am? Let me know!

Not I: Man Hater?

One thing I’ve never understood is why people make the assumption that a woman who chooses to live her best single life hates men. Let’s get something straight: I am not a man hater. Men are great! They provide emotional stability and rational thinking when my hormones go crazy. They offer a different perspective concerning situations that I never in a million years would have considered. For these reasons (and more), I value the role of men in my life.

Just because I make the conscious decision not to enter into a relationship doesn’t mean I’m a man hater. I hate when people make this assumption because they peg me as someone I’m not. My choice to remain single doesn’t stem from a dislike of men; it’s because I don’t want to repeat past mistakes.

It happens…

Speaking to both sides of the divide, I think there needs to be some understanding. We never know another person’s story when it comes to relationships and past experiences. To assume I hate men because I’m not ready to walk down the aisle is a faux pas. I could have been abused, manipulated, or mistreated in other ways by a man. Believe me, the hurt and pain that that suffering awakens takes time to get over.

“Let’s get something straight: I am not a man hater.”

To the men, I ask you to be patient and kind. A woman with her guard up probably has stories upon stories to tell of when she allowed someone in and had her trust broken. I wish I could tell men that their willingness to walk alongside a woman through her pain and mess would do far more good than simply getting frustrated and giving up the chase.

To the women, I would tell you that not all men are the same. After coming out of a bad relationship, we often question our own judgment, find ourselves in the same predicament with a man who’s just as bad because we believe that’s the best we can do, or swear off men altogether. While it’s easy to remain guarded and expect a man to fight to show he really wants us, I’d say that path leads to even more pain. We can’t put everything on a man. Our healing doesn’t come from any one human being; it comes from God.

“Believe me, the hurt and pain that that suffering awakens takes time to get over.”

Before getting involved in a new relationship, I am a firm advocate of us taking time for serious introspection to learn about ourselves. Ask yourself some vital questions that will bring much clarity and allow you to honestly get to know yourself.

  • What about this man made him so attracted to you?
  • When were you happiest in the relationship?
  • What aspects of his character gave you cause to pause?
  • How many times did he offer genuine support?
  • How often did his words pierce you?
  • After the first incident, why didn’t you walk away?
  • Who did you go to for counsel about this man?
  • Was that confidant in a position to give you healthy relationship advice?
  • At any point, did you ever pray and ask God if He was pleased with the union?
  • Did you witness the fruit of this man’s relationship with God before dating?
  • How did you view your worth before dating this man?
  • How did you view your worth after the relationship ended?

That was a lot! Introspection is not a one-size-fits-all process. We all take in and analyze information differently. I think there’s great truth when they say we date the same men with different names. All I’m offering, fellow navigator, are some great starters to get you to begin noticing your patterns.

“Our healing doesn’t come from any one human being; it comes from God.”

Because of our environments growing up, family dynamics, and other factors, I believe we continue vicious cycles when we choose to go it alone. The beauty of our faith in God is that He never leaves us. Even when those around us fail to come through, our Father in heaven is always there.

Always.

Fellow navigator, don’t allow past hurts to keep you from future promises. We’re not men haters. We’re not bound by the pain of people who used and abused us. We are strong, brilliant, caring women who have much to offer the world. We grow from our less-than-stellar situations and move one step closer to being who God created us to be.

Have you ever been accused of being a man hater because of the stance you’ve taken when it comes to dating relationships? What have you learned about yourself regarding romantic relationships? I’d love to hear your story!