It’s day two of 31 Days of Interviews with Single Women Making a Difference! You can find a list of all the interviews in this post.
Let me introduce you to Stephanie Hoffpauir! Stephanie writes,
Seek to know Jesus. Grow in relationship with Him. Don’t focus on “doing” constantly – learn to be still and listen to His voice. He wants to speak to you if you will learn how to listen. Open your life to the Godly counsel of older and wiser individuals. Then out of that can flow (in God’s time) the place and the means to serve others.
Stephanie is 27 years old, and she works in a small academic library at a Christian college. In this interview, Stephanie is transparent and honest with sharing her struggles as a single woman. However, she always come back to her relationship with Jesus and how He fills those places. You are going to feel like Stephanie’s sitting right in your living room, she that relatable. Enjoy her interview!
Brenda: First, tell us a little about yourself – your name, age, where you live, and where you grew up.
Stephanie: My name is Stephanie. I am 27 and live in Cincinnati, OH. I’m a long way from “home” which has been both Florida and Idaho. As different as Idaho and Florida are, I truly miss them both.
Brenda: Where do you work, and how did you get started in your job?
Stephanie: I currently work in a small academic library at a private Christian college. I attended the college first and then transitioned into working for them full-time. After being an Administrative Assistant to two VP’s for about 2.5 years, I felt the need for a change. God graciously opened the position in the library for me (a perfect fit since I’ve loved books and libraries my entire life!).
Brenda: Do you feel like your job is God’s calling on your life or do you hope it leads to something else one day?
Stephanie: How’s this for confusing? I don’t see my job as my future, but I feel it is my calling for right now. I’ve struggled long and hard over my future, made plans and had them dashed, but then realized that they were “my” plans, not the Lord’s. I believe He has me in this place for a time of growth. In the future I hope to specifically develop my writing skills as well as venturing out into mentoring/teaching with the purpose of spiritual formation, especially among young women. Thankfully I get to develop my leadership and mentoring skills right here – both with my student workers and also with a new venture I’m starting. Lord willing, I’m going to be co-leading a discipleship group with one of my best friends this school year!
Brenda: When you envisioned your life as a young girl, did you hope to have a career when you grew up or was your desire more for marriage and children or did you want both for your life?
Stephanie: This is a tricky question. To be honest, I think I wanted both. However I went through a very “feminist” (honestly, it was purely selfish on my part) stage where nothing – husband or babies – was going to get in the way of my career. I was going to have a distinguished career in psychology, but I also wanted it all – both family and career. Unfortunately, had I stayed in that mindset, my family would have taken second place in my life. Over the years, Jesus has gently changed my heart. I believe now that if the Lord gives me a family (my deepest desire if it’s part of His plan), that gift is a priceless treasure that should be cherished and nurtured as it is a calling in and of itself. If God allows opportunity to still develop my personal/career goals in the process (writing, teaching), I’ll be very grateful.
Brenda: What fires you up? What are you most passionate about in your life and in the world?
Stephanie: I suppose I’m passionate about a lot of things – chalk it up to my personality! But right now the three main passions of my life are:
1. Cultivating spiritual community in a way that fosters spiritual formation (being made into the image of Christ while living in relationship with Him). I have come to believe strongly that a person who is growing in grace cannot be a lone ranger. It is our closest relationships that tend to form our view of God and His church. Being intentional about living in and providing others with a healthy spiritual community is perhaps one of the most powerful catalysts to spiritual development.
2. Relationship, relationship, relationship! Oh, that every young person in the church today could see the importance of developing a personal relationship with Jesus. My spiritual life is not based on rules and rituals or even saying and doing certain things. It is founded in the grace of God and the right/ability He gives me to have a daily and personal walk with Him (fueled by His Word and prayer).
3. Because I’ve struggled with mental health issues for approximately 10 years (anxiety, depression, OCD), I am very passionate about raising awareness in the church of mental health issues and how we can better serve those that struggle with invisible needs. I try to take a balanced approach to mental health and not be all or nothing in this area. From my own experience, I can say that there are physical, mental and spiritual causes and aspects of mental illness. It is rarely all or nothing, but varies widely from person to person. What worked for one person may not for the other, therefore we must seek the Lord’s wisdom and understanding in dealing with our own issues and the issues that others face. Also, it is frequently a wise idea to see a licensed Christian mental health professional. I’ve seen more than one in my own lifetime.
Brenda: Tell us one thing you LOVE about being single and one thing you hate (or your biggest struggle) about being single.
Stephanie: I LOVE being able to be so flexible with my schedule. For example – last night my friend and I were exhausted after a rough start to our work week. So rather than going home and doing dishes or laundry, we went out for ice cream. On the other hand, those rough times are also the times I wish the most for a loving companion. Someone who is there regardless of how rough the week has been, someone who can pick up on my pain without me having to chase someone down to talk to, someone who can just give me a hug or hold me without me even having to go into all the details of my rotten day.
On a more sensitive topic, I struggle with being single for a very basic and physical reason. Even though I’m a girl (and I’ve been told this issue isn’t as unusual as people make it seem), I face and deal with sexual desire on a regular basis. As a single Christian, there is no “out” here, no way to fulfill those desires. Knowing how to handle this in a healthy way has been a struggle for me. Again, I’m thankful for my Christian counselor who has been able to work with me on how I can deal with sexual need in a Godly manner. And let’s be honest, on a related note, I do feel like my biological clock is ticking. Some days I just melt when I see babies and I keep asking, “Where’s mine, Jesus?”
Brenda: I imagine there are times when you feel content in your singleness and other times when you want to throw something across the room because of it, but overall, how do you feel about being a single woman? Is there more contentment and peace or more of the opposite? Do you ever get mad at God because you are single? When bitterness, discontentment, confusion, and even jealousy creep into your mind, how to you deal with it? Do you have a go-to person or scripture verse or something else that helps?
Stephanie: Yes to all of the above! How’s that for being concise? While the Lord has helped me immensely in this area, I frequently (as in multiple times a week and sometimes multiple times a day) just feel like something is missing in my life. I have a level of peace about the situation because I know God is good (and that is enough), but rarely do I ever get away from the sensation that life is swiftly moving by and I’m still without what seems like the most important thing. Of course I realize that my plan isn’t necessarily God’s, and that is when reminding myself of God’s attributes becomes particularly beneficial. He is Love. He is All-Knowing. He is Just. He is Good. He is Faithful.
Stephanie: I try to get busy with something meaningful – spend time with good friends, read a book (and not just fiction that will make me even more lonely, i.e., chick lit), plan a new hobby or a trip.
Brenda: What is your biggest pet peeve about the way single women are perceived?
Stephanie: I feel we can be often overlooked in churches and ministries . . like we are unimportant or somehow that what we are going through is just not as important as what married couples/parents are going through. Mothers and fathers and children are all praised or exhorted and receive teaching, but very often the realities of the single life aren’t taught or discussed (except for those college age and younger). I realize this is different in various circles, but it is something I face in a conservative Christian college environment.
Another perception I see is that there is something wrong or overly eccentric with people who aren’t dating/married and are older. For a while I actually believed this, too, and then I realized it isn’t necessarily true . . . all sorts of people get married – both those with issues and those that are eccentric. In fact, aren’t we all weird or broken in our own way?
Brenda: Do you struggle with finding community in your local church? How do you find community in a world that seems coupled up?
Stephanie: Yes – it often feels like some people prefer to spend more time with people in the same stage of life as themselves – young marrieds, singles, etc. or else just with their spouse. I sometimes ache to be part of a thriving community that has singles, couples, families and older adults. As a young professional living 2,000 miles from most of my family, this is the only way I can experience family life and learn from those in different stages than myself.
I have “accidentally” (actually, providentially) happened into some of my community, to be honest. Part of my community is people from my workplace that I spend time with. I also attend church now with some of those same people, so that has been a blessing. Another community that has welcomed me in is a group of people who I met through a mutual friend. We don’t attend the same church or even work in the same circles, but they graciously opened their home and their community to me.
Brenda: Are more of your girlfriends married or single? How do you find authentic friendships as a single woman?
Stephanie: Most of my best friends are either still single or else are married women that already have families. I have a couple good friends that are married without children, but we naturally don’t spend quite the same amount of time together and honestly don’t connect in some of the same ways that I do with my single friends. Again, many of my best friends are those that I work with or those that are in my church community.
Brenda: Our perception of you is that you are living a fulfilled, purposeful life as a single woman. You’re not waiting around for marriage, but fulfilling God’s call on your life now. What would you say is your secret to doing this?
Stephanie: Lots and lots of grace and patience from my Savior. Honestly, if I didn’t believe in the Sovereignty and Goodness of God, I couldn’t do it. (I feel like I’m repeating myself with this point.) Repeat the truth to yourself as often as necessary, and ask your friends to do the same for you. The other secrets are good friends, good coffee and good food.
Brenda: What words of advice do you have for other single women who want to live with purpose now and not wait for marriage to start their lives?
Stephanie: Eat more chocolate (not really). But seriously, I don’t have a different answer to this than from the last question. Seek to know Jesus. Grow in relationship with Him. Don’t focus on “doing” constantly – learn to be still and listen to His voice. He wants to speak to you if you will learn how to listen. Open your life to the Godly counsel of older and wiser individuals. Then out of that can flow (in God’s time) the place and the means to serve others.
Brenda: And some fun stuff!
Brenda: Which do you like best – Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (or all of it!)?
Stephanie: Twitter and Instagram, all the way.
Brenda: What’s your favorite drink?
Stephanie: Loving Starbucks’ summer drink – Peach Green Tea Lemonade. That or a good cup of coffee or chai make my day.
Brenda: Where would you want to live the rest of your life – beach or mountains?
Stephanie: Do I really have to choose? If I do, probably the mountains – not as much sand there.
Brenda: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Stephanie: I think I’m an extroverted introvert. Ha! – in reality I’m an introvert, but can pretty easily go into people mode if I need to.
Brenda: What’s something quirky about you?
Stephanie: I’m a fairly good shot with a rifle, and am enough of a country girl to love just going out in the country and doing some target practice.
Brenda: What else do we need to know about you? Where can we connect with you online?
Stephanie: My Twitter and Instagram handles are @stephaniedawner. I would love to have your prayers for the upcoming discipleship group I’m going to be co-leading for young college girls. I’m pretty excited and very nervous about this opportunity all at the same time.