The air froze. Besides the clink of forks, there was nothing but an awkward silence.
I remember the look on the young man’s face as we had dinner in a beautiful restaurant he had carefully chosen.
He had asked me what I envisioned my future to look like.
“I sense God calling me to missions — to serve the poor in developing nations.”
All colour drained from his face — right in the middle of our appetiser.
Suffice to say, I had ruined the date. He never asked me out again.
As a mother of two young girls, I have often wondered if my daughters might grow up wondering: “Does being a strong, bold woman mean I’ll chase away potential suitors?”
The short, truthful answer? Yes!
But girl, if that man is afraid to chase you because of your bold faith, gregarious personality or radical obedience to take risks for God, is he really worth your time?
Let him go.
Perhaps, the real question we should be asking ourselves is: As a strong woman with bold faith, ambition and perhaps even a hint of feistiness, how can I approach being pursued in a relationship?
Stay true to your God-given calling
When Cliff showed up, I remember having the most difficult heart-to-heart talk with him.
I told him frankly that I had a call to a potentially nomadic missional life, that I’d work long hours as a doctor, that I had dreams to pursue further studies overseas, and that married life with me would be hard.
He was stunned. But he sought the Lord seriously and, unfazed, he was determined to marry me.
If the Lord has spoken clearly to you about your God-given calling, the dating or courtship phase is not the time to compromise.
Stay true to who you are and let the Lord filter suitors for you — you only need one, if any!
Beloved, as a daughter of the Most High, if you know God has a high calling for your life, don’t settle for second best.
If you are muting yourself to attract more suitors, could they be the wrong ones?
Instead, would you trust God to pick the right suitor for you — one who might be brave to pursue you in all your celebrated boldness to live life to the fullest for Him?
Trust God to choose for you
Some of us wonder how we can stay true to our high callings in Christ if we have to submit to our husbands (Ephesians 5:21-24).
The truth is, this comes with greater ease, when we let God pick our partners.
I remember the sudden dread that came over me when Cliff proposed to me at the time I wanted to submit my application for the Master of Public Health programme at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in America.
“He’s wrecking God’s plans for my life,” I thought!
Yet, because God had confirmed to me in various ways that Cliff was the right partner, my submission to him put me closer to my destiny than I ever thought possible.
Through submission to Cliff, we ended up serving in Uganda after we married instead of me going to the States.
Cliff encouraged me to re-apply to the Master’s programme a few years later, and through a series of miraculous events, three scholarship boards fully sponsored my tuition fees of more than $100,000.
I later found out from members of the scholarship board that they picked me as a scholarship recipient in spite of my dismal academic results, because of what my volunteering stint in Uganda spoke of me.
Had I not submitted to Cliff, I might still be in debt today.
By allowing God to pick my life partner and submitting to both their authorities, I allowed Him to bring my life’s calling into fruition.
Fast forward to now, I write this from Eswatini, Africa as a public health consultant for WHO and UNICEF, deployed here to help with the COVID-19 humanitarian crisis.
I was petrified to offer myself, but Cliff earnestly encouraged me — fulfilling a prophecy I received years ago.
When you let God choose a partner for you, you can trust that as you submit to your husband, God will propel you further into your destiny than you ever could alone.
If you ask Cliff why he married me, and whether or not he was intimidated by my achievements and ambition, he’ll tell you without missing a beat: “I loved her precisely because of all those reasons!”
What does the Bible have to say?
The Bible is full of strong, bold women.
Queen Esther was bold to save her people when faced with crisis, even at the risk of losing her life. Deborah was a strong leader who led her nation’s army to victory. Anna was a powerful intercessor whose prayers I imagine shook the heavenlies.
So yes, throw out those images of dainty princesses waiting for their prince. Being bold in Christ does not disqualify us from having “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4).
In Psalm 144:12, the Bible describes daughters as being like “pillars carved to adorn a palace,” signifying strength and beauty at once. Surely, boldness and gentleness are not mutually exclusive!
A woman of God can have bold faith and a gentle spirit, a thirst for adventure and a yielded heart. In contrast, a woman who is outwardly quiet and submissive can still harbour a rebellious heart and a controlling spirit.
Which will you choose to be?
Over the years, I’ve vacillated between holding back my voice and being overly upfront. Yet, there is a middle path.
I’ve learnt that being strong and empowered does not mean being aggressive, brash or rude. In fact, in today’s world, we must reclaim what strength and boldness means for women — God’s way.
I don’t think the Lord wants to stamp out our colourful, bubbly personalities.
Rather, He desires to do the deep unseen work in our characters, in our hearts that we may “speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle and to show courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).
We can be bubbly, yet meek; be gregarious, yet gentle in our spirit; be upfront, yet wise to season our words with grace.
We can be ambitious, if we are willing to surrender all our biggest dreams to God.
So beloved, be unashamed of your calling. Be unashamed of who you are.
You might chase away a few suitors with your daring faith and radical obedience, but you can trust Him to either choose the right partner for you, or to still fulfil your highest call as a single woman.
Be free to celebrate who God made you to be — a strong, beautiful woman free to dream His dreams for your life.
This is the third in a series of articles that Wai Jia and her husband, Cliff, are writing to share their views on singlehood, dating and marriage. You can catch up on the first two articles below.
- What does being a strong and bold woman mean to you? How does that look like?
- Have you been tempted to settle for second best? What held you back?
- Are you able to trust Him to either choose the right partner for you or to still fulfil your God-given calling as a single?