Hi everyone! My name is Hillary Unruh, I am 28 years old, and I am currently living in Belgium with my sweet husband Tate. My husband plays professional basketball overseas, so we are in Belgium during the season, and Kansas City during the summers! I just recently started blogging, to fill a lot of my time over here, and it has been such a fun and creative outlet for me. If you love fashion, style, shopping on a budget, and talking about real things, then hop on over to www.hillarymichelleblog.com and let’s be friends! Also, if you have a thing for rap music, specifically the 2000’s, then we will be best friends.
When Lauren asked me to guest write for her blog, I was so excited. Some of you might be a little hesitant reading this, because I am married, but don’t roll your eyes at me yet- your girls got some street cred! ;) I got married just this past summer, August 2017, after dating and being engaged to Tate for a little under a year. Before Tate walked into my life, I was single for eight years. Yes, I didn’t misspell, eight years! Not only was I single, I was never asked out on a date. Tate was my first date at the ripe age of 27.
For eight years singleness was something I really struggled with. I felt like I was ready to marry at age 22, and I am not kidding. My hearts desire was to be a wife, and eventually a mother. I wrestled with God all the time. I didn’t understand why I had to wait so long when I felt like I was ready. I didn’t understand why no one was taking an interest in me. I didn’t understand why other people were being asked out and pursued, and not me. I wanted to be married so badly, my heart ached. I longed to love someone, to serve someone, and to stand beside someone.
God always uses our biggest weaknesses and struggles for His glory doesn’t He? He turns them into our passions. So for eight years singleness was my platform that He used to speak to other single women! I loved ministering to other single women. I loved being used by God to encourage others in singleness, even in the moments of doubt and fear.
When I became married, I realized that my platform had shifted. I was no longer married. I couldn’t speak into singleness the same way I used to be able to. When Lauren asked me to write for her blog, I was so excited because I got to talk about singleness again! It sounds weird, but it was huge part of my life and my walk with the Lord. Even though I am married now, those feelings of loneliness, doubt, impatience, fear, feeling not good enough, are all still so real to me. So I get it, sister!
I want to encourage you in your singleness today. Looking back on my eight years of singleness, I learned a lot and grew a lot. I now see many different ways the Lord used my singleness, and I would love to share them with you! There are also myths and misconceptions about marriage that I want to address as well.
So let’s get to it!
First, wrestle with your singleness. Wrestling with my singleness was one of the best things I did to prepare for marriage. Sounds weird, huh? Let me explain. When I say I wrestled with my singleness, I mean I asked God a lot of questions, I asked myself a lot of questions, and I fought through the ugly hard times. There are going to be days when singleness is fun, maybe you would prefer it, and you see it truly as a gift. Then there are going to be days when you sob in a quiet place alone because you feel left out, lonely, and unwanted. I know that wasn’t just me! I would sometimes get mad at God (not rightfully so) but I was honest with Him. I was mad that it was taking so long, I was mad no one was pursuing me, I was mad other girls were getting pursued. When I got real with myself, and with God, He taught me a lot about myself, Himself, and singleness. He taught me to be strong, He tested my faith, He reminded me of His faithfulness, and He taught me to find my identity in Him. THAT IS HUGE. I didn’t have a boyfriend to be tempted to place my identity in. If anything, being single always pushed me back to the Lord because the Lord was all I had.
Singleness taught me a lot about independence, yet dependance on the Lord, and finding my whole identity in Him. I learned who I was a person, before adding someone else to my life. My strengths, my weaknesses, my fear buttons, my ugly side, what made me mad, what made me happy, how to communicate. Now I am married (finally), ten months in, and I rarely struggle with placing my identity in Tate. And I rarely struggle with looking to him to fulfill things I know he can’t fulfill. I know how to handle a lot of my emotions. I am not saying married people don’t struggle with those things, but singleness prepared me for those temptations! So allow this time of singleness to be used for your sanctification and growth! Wrestle with God. Allow Him to teach you about dependence on Him, and finding your identity solely in Him. Heck, I am still being taught those things even after getting married, and will always continue to be!
Secondly, view your singleness as a ministry. This is big. When you are single, you have an opportunity. When you’re married, you have an opportunity. But we are talking about the opportunities you have as a single person. Incase you didn’t know this, people are watching you! People are looking at you, people notice how you handle yourself, and people look up to you. You may be thinking, “uhh who??”. You may not know it, but they are. You have the opportunity to witness to people through your singleness. Through acts of faith, trust, obedience, and simply having a joyful heart. You are able to encourage those around you who are also walking in singleness.
How are you handling your singleness? Trust me, I didn’t handle singleness well all the time. I had my moments. But when you stop thinking about yourself and what you “deserve”, and shift your focus to being USED by God, your attitude shifts too! God will use you if you allow Him to. There were girls that would tell me they were encouraged by my singleness. “Well Hillary is 26 and still single, so I can do it too, it’s ok”. Sure it is veeery humbling, but it is encouraging! You can be an example to people, even in your walk through singleness. Dive into that. Encourage girls. Challenge girls who might be walking in doubt and fear, causing them to lower their standards. Ya’ll it can be an incredible ministry if you choose to view it as such. Lauren is the perfect example of that, by starting this blog. Seriously, go Lauren!
Third, married people still need friends too. There’s a transition that occurs when you go from being single to married. You go from living with your friends and hanging out with them all the time, to living with a man and I wanting to spend time with him, but also your friends. And as a friend of a person who just gets married, you always feel funny about when to hang out and when to not hang out. Like do they want to be with their husband tonight? Am I hanging around too much? Would they rather hang out with married couples? I remember thinking that with my married friends. I didn’t want to overstep. Friendships will look a little different, and that’s ok, but they are still your friend!! Married people need their friends. Relationship status has nothing to do with a friendship, or at least it shouldn’t. I love hanging with Tate, and spending time with him, but I also want to hang with my girls! Maintaining friendships is so important. Community is needed. We are called to have community! So don’t feel self conscious, don’t back away from friendships, and don’t feel less than. You are needed!
Fourth, getting married will not complete you or your life, and it won’t solve your problems. I remember praying to God, “alright God, I love my job, my friends, my community, my life, I just would love to have that missing piece, I would love to have a husband.” Do you relate? You just need that onnnnneee thing checked off your list and you’re good to go. You will be happy. Life will be GOOD. Marriage is not the one missing puzzle piece. It will never fully complete your life or satisfy that one itch. It’s funny, once we moved to Belgium and I realized I no longer had my friends, job, community, and family, I found myself praying desperately, “God I just need one friend. Could you please send me a friend. I will be ok if I have one friend.” God had given me a husband and I was praying for more! We always want more, we always want something else! Don’t get me wrong, God blessed me with the most amazing husband, and he fulfilled that desire of my heart. It is the greatest gift I have received. But that is just it, marriage is a gift! The gift of marriage is not intended to satisfy your deepest longings, to complete your life, fix your problems, or make you happy. It is a gift that is meant to bless you, and it does, very deeply.
Marriage does not fix problems. Marriage does not fix deeply rooted insecurities and fears. If anything, it exposes them. It is the most sanctifying relationship you can be in! So don’t think that by getting married those will suddenly vanish, because they won’t. I have never been more aware of my selfishness, than I have been the past 10 months! Use this time just you and God to work things you need to work through. Only the Lord is able to fix, heal, and patch up. Don’t look to marriage for that!
I actually feel like I could go on and on, but I will spare you all! ;) But I do want to leave you with two things.
Marriage is beautiful, messy, fun, hilarious, and the most incredible experience. It is worth waiting for. I waited eight long years to meet Tate, and if I would’ve known then what I know now, I would’ve waited eight more years. Well maybe not eight more….haha just kidding. ;) But that’s the thing, God doesn’t always reveal to you His plan and His reasons. Sometimes it really sucks, but it’s always for your good! I still don't know why Tate and I had to meet at age 27, but that is ok. I am so thankful I was faithful in my singleness, even when I didn’t want to be, because he was worth it. Marriage is worth it.
Lastly, don’t let “single” define you or become your identity. Because you are so much more than that! And when it does define you or become your identity, it will blur your vision. You doubt, you question, you fear, you feel less than, not good enough, lonely, behind, unwanted, self conscious. You are not those things! You are loved. You are taken care of. You are cared for. You have a plan already made for you that is without mistake. You are strong. You are enough. You are worthy. You are not behind. You are right where you need to be, because God has placed you there. So choose to believe that every single morning and walk confidently in your singleness! - Hillary
SO excited to have the Collective up and running this year! I loved what Hillary had to say because it's SO good to be reminded of these things even from married friends.