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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Singles (4)


Singleness and Family - Part 2

Nali Hilderman is a successful single with a powerful message of hope in Christ. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she focuses on Christian singles and their relationship to the empowering, encouraging family of God.

"Last year I wrote about singleness and the desire for family," Nali says. "I had three suggestions for fulfilling the longing for family when there’s not much you can do about it, but I forgot what may be the most important “remedy” for singleness and family: The Body of Jesus—the Church! 

I (Dawn) think Nali is right! The Body of Christ came alongside me in my single days in so many wonderful ways, but I didn't think about the Church as the gift it was, at the time. I like Nali's proactive approach!

Nali continues . . . 

I was reminded of this oversight when I recently revisited a book called, When the Church was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community by Joseph Hellerman. 

Hellerman lays out the communal, family loyalty of the first century Mediterranean world and this cultural reality shaped the first century church.

Hellerman’s point in the book is that we ought to experience the Church and read the Bible, especially the New Testament, through the lens of "church as family."  

So, if you’re feeling lonely and desire a family as a single woman, let me encourage you with three things in that regard.

1. Rethink Relationships and See How Jesus Defined Them.

Hellerman writes* how—for those of us in modern America—we "expect marriage to be our most meaningful, intimate and satisfying relationship. We hope to find most of our emotional, physical, and material needs met in the context of the marriage bond." 

Yet, this was not the case for the first century world or early believers. In the ancient world the most important relationship was "the bond between blood brothers and sisters."

This, for Hellerman, is key to living a vibrant, communal life in the Church today. 

Sisters, understand that the strong "family ties" of the ancient world are powerful for those of us who have been adopted into the family of God.

We have family automatically in the Church!

2. Get Involved in a Local Church.

In order to tap into this communal life, the first thing we must do is actively get involved in a local church. 

Several years ago, I lived on the opposite side of the country from my parents and siblings, and it was only when I joined a local church and got involved in many activities that I felt loneliness dissipate.

We became family for each other, celebrated holidays and birthdays together, ate meals together, helped each other move, studied the Bible, and just over all did life together. 

Nearly a decade later, I look back on that time and remember the close-knit male and female relationships I had and how much I was fulfilled doing life with those believers.

3. Be Involved with All Age Groups in the Body of Christ.

A lot of our churches tend to segregate believers into "age/life season" categories.

But I challenge you to know and do life with all ages of believers—families, newly marrieds, singles, older people, children—all ages and all life seasons. It will make your life so rich!

I had the pleasure of being in a Bible study with five women in their 30s, and five women in their retired years. The Bible study was called Living Crosswise—by Dr. Gail Bones, who wrote and led the study. It was phenomenal to realize how much we women had in common, both in life and in our relationship with the Lord. 

Ladies, older believers have much to offer us, as do younger believers. Get to know them and find out what the joys and challenges are in their season of life. I guarantee it will help you see your season of singleness with fresh eyes. It will also help you find a "spiritual mom" or a "spiritual sister."

I know these suggestions do not replace the deeply-seated desire many single women have for their own family, but often life can feel so lonely and "out of our control."

We need to be active about what we can control. 

Ladies, are you involved in your local church? Do you have significant relationships with men and women of all ages and stages of life at your church? Actively seek those out and see the Body of Christ as your family— both in the interim and also for eternity.

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history and Political Science at San Diego Christian College. She studies women’s history and Christian theology trying to make sense of how to be a confident, successful Christian woman who does not buy into the secular feminist mentality.

* Quotes from page 35 of Joseph Hellerman's book, When the Church was a Family.

Graphics adapted, courtesy of Pixabay and Lightstock.


Waiting Well

Wise and winsome Nali Hilderman calls Christian singles to seek and live for the Lord, but her words have often spoken to my own heart as a married woman. In this UPGRADE post for Single Christians, she once again calls all of us to consider life from a biblical perspective.

"Like most people," Nali says, "I really do not like to wait—I don’t like long lines, I don’t like sitting at the airport for a flight or in traffic. I get antsy and oftentimes anxious for things I cannot control."

I (Dawn) DO hate to wait. Waiting is "a waste of time," I say—except when God has us in a waiting pattern for His purposes. Nali reminds us of some lessons the Lord might teach us in this schoolroom of waiting.

Nali continues . . .

I’ll be honest and say I have an especially hard time waiting on God. 

When I wait for other things, I can at least cognitively understand the situation: there are 10 people ahead of me and as one leaves, then I move up. 

There are 25 minutes until my flight takes off, so I can manage that. 

But with God, it often seems like those cognitive “markers” are elusive, and waiting proves angstful and difficult.  This is especially true if, like me, we are waiting on God for a relationship, especially one that will lead to marriage. 

However, God has not left us in the dark regarding this; and I want to offer us some advice on how to WAIT WELL—to give some “cognitive markers” to hang on to in the midst of our waiting.

1. Remember You are in Good Company

Not only are lots of other people waiting on God right now, but the scriptures are filled with countless people who had to wait on God. 

Most of the heroes of the faith—the patriarchs, the kings, the Jewish nation—all had to wait years for God to fulfill the promises He had given them.

Read their stories and be reminded of how they waited (some well, and others, not so well). Visit Hebrews 11 for an overview of many of them, and note especially that some died before they received God’s Promise, yet they did not waiver in their faith that God would provide. What faith!

2. Remember It’s about the Journey, Not the Destination.

More than anything, God desires relationship with us.

Often God's provisions and withholdings are meant to draw us into deeper fellowship with Him. 

I once went through a whirlwind relationship and was convinced God had finally provided a husband for me. I was left in tatters after the relationship ended.

Only through a deep wrestling with God did I discover Him saying, "

This was never about the guy; this was about my relationship with you!”

That led me to an intimacy with God I never knew was possible. Romans 8 says God works in all things. Why? So we may know Him and be conformed into the image of His Son (vv.  28-29).

3. Get busy!

Follow the examples of those in the Bible who waited on God. Though there are some negative examples, most carried on while waiting, and God used that time for what was to come. 

David was a young man when he was anointed King of Israel, but it was a few decades before that promise was fulfilled. In that time, he fought lions and bears, killed Goliath, served another king—who taught him what he was not to do—and walked with God (I Samuel 16-242 Samuel 1-2). 

4. Trust God and His Timing.

The hardest part about waiting is feeling out of control in our circumstances, yet time and time again scripture provides examples of how God is in the most minute details to get His children right where He wants them in order to provide. 

My favorite story of this is the children of Israel in Exodus. They had left slavery in Egypt under miraculous means, only to begin wandering in the desert. The Bible says God did not lead them through the land of the Philistines, though it was shorter, but took them to the Red Sea and had them camp there! 

We know what happened next. The Egyptian army came to kill them, yet God miraculously provided AGAIN for their rescue. 

Notice the key point: 

God took them to the exact place where He would prove his power and protection, even though it seemed to make no sense to the Israelites (Exodus 13:17-18).

Dear friends, are you in a season of waiting on God for a relationship or for anything else?  Which of these four markers is most challenging for you? How can you actively pursue one of these this week as you learn to Wait Well? 

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history and political science at San Diego Christian College. She also is currently the Acting Chair for the Leadership and Justice Department. She writes on the connection between Christianity and the public square, both historically and in the present.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of AD Images, Pixabay.


Singleness and Our Desire for Family

Nali Hilderman is one of the most radiant young women I know. She's single-minded toward the Lord, and that colors her attitudes about living as a single in this stage of life. I invited Nali to share about her growth in this Single Christians UPGRADE.

"As singles, the desire for a family of one’s own can be strong," Nali says. "Yet we are stuck in a weird in-between which is not fully the past, and definitely not the future."

I (Dawn) still remember traveling across America as a single woman and longing to have a husband and children and settle down. Nali's right; the ache was strong. I wish I'd had this wise counsel back then.

Nali continues . . .

One of the main things I hear from singles, and struggle with myself, is the loneliness that comes from not having a family of one’s own. 

As I’ve wrestled through this, here are three things that have helped me navigate that desire for husband and children. I hope they’re an encouragement to you as well!

1. Be your Own Family.

Several years ago I sensed the Lord asking me to step out in faith and live my life AS THOUGH marriage and family might not happen. What I sensed was that he wanted me to live my life to the fullest and “stop waiting” for life to begin once I crossed the altar or had my first child. 

The Lord has told us that He came to give us life abundantly (John 10:10b) and that remains true regardless of your marital status! 

So, I bought a house (a huge blessing), and slowly I’ve made my home my own, and begun my own “family” activities. I decorate for Christmas, I have special traditions, that are unique to me, not my family of origin and hopefully they’ll be something that I can share with my own family, one day.

2. Think Outside the Box About Family.

While I was in that season, I also distinctly felt the Lord telling me that my singleness had a purpose, which was to invest 100% of myself in my work—which, as a professor, is investing in the lives of students. (Note: That's Nali, bottom left in white, having fun with some of her students.)

I realized if I had a family of my own, there was no way I’d have the time or energy to impact these young adults the way I do as a single woman. 

While you may not have that same “built in family option” at your workplace, I guarantee there are youth groups and Sunday school classes that would LOVE your help and your investment made in the lives of the kids.

The Bible tells us in Titus 2:1-5 to mentor others and pour into the next generation.

3. Find or Join a Friend’s Family.

You probably have many friends with families of their own, and one of the greatest joys is to join their family activities. 

I’m not talking about babysitting.

I’m talking about doing life with them—meal time, play time, nap time, activity time—simply join them in whatever they’re doing. 

When I do this, it blesses me and makes me feel like I’m part of a family; and I know it blesses their parents to have the “adult company” and also someone else to invest in their children. 

One of my favorite things to be called is “Auntie Nali.”

To hear my sister’s kids (pictured, right) and my friend’s kids call me that fulfills my deep desire, for now, to be called "Mom."

I know that the desire for your own family can be overwhelming and you wonder when, maybe if, it will ever happen. (I know I do.) But let’s try to focus on the things we have right in front of us and use this precious time we have now to learn to invest in the lives around us. 

If we are faithful in these things, we’ll be even more prepared to invest when it’s our turn.

Psalm 37:3 says, “Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” How can you dwell in the land (i.e. season of life) and cultivate faithfulness in your desire to have a family today?

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history and Political Science at San Diego Christian College and Director the college’s Dr. Henry Morris Leadership Program.  She studies women’s history and Christian theology trying to make sense of how to be a confident, successful Christian woman who does not buy into the secular feminist mentality.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of stevepb at Pixabay.


Rethinking Single Leadership

A strong woman of purpose, Nali Hilderman encourages women—both by her teaching and in her life example—to embrace Christian leadership at all ages and stages of life. She knows this is difficult for some single women.

“If you’re feeling unimportant in your singleness,” Nali said, “I’d like to challenge you with a biblical perspective.”

When I (Dawn) was a young single woman, a Christian ministry offered me strong reasons to see my singleness as a gift from God. I'm so glad Nali is addressing that in this Leadership UPGRADE.

Nali continues . . .

While there are many examples in the Bible of women that God used—some married, some single—we should focus on obedience to Him in whatever stage of life we find ourselves.

Nowhere does the Bible indicate that your ability to make a difference for Christ and His Kingdom is dependent on your marital status. 

However, I know sometimes it can feel like you’re overlooked and unimportant in the Church if you don’t have a husband and family. 

Here are three reasons you really do matter in the Kingdom of God.

1. Rethink Leadership.

We often tend to think that leadership is about position, personality or platform, which includes certain “requirements” you may feel you don’t have as a single woman. 

The reality is, leadership is mainly about the ability to influence others, serve them and—in Christian leadership—point them towards Christ. 

These things you can do successfully, regardless of whether you’re married or not. 

“Leadership is being alive with truth and love in your sphere of influence.”

That is something anyone can do!

Focus on those God has placed in your path, and work on serving and loving them. This is the most powerful form of influence.

2. Examine and Use your Spiritual Gifts.

Just as there is nothing in Scripture that indicates the gifts of the Holy Spirit are either “male/female,” so there is no designation that some gifts are given to married people and some are for singles.

Because of this, take time to find out what your gifts are and set about using them for the edification of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:7).

You can take free online tests to find out which gifts are your strengths.*

Also, spend time studying 1 Corinthians 12 to learn what the gifts are, what their purpose is, and how each gift is important in the body of Christ.

3. Steward Your Time.

I know this sounds cliché, but as singles we often have more time on our hands than our married friends. Paul is speaking truth when he says married people are concerned with the affairs of their spouse and needs of their children, while single people are “concerned about the Lord’s affairs” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). 

I know it’s easy to spend time focusing on what we don’t have, but ask yourself, “Am I being a wise steward of the time I have now? Am I serving the Lord—using my gifts to edify the Body of Christ?”

You have the ability to make a significant impact on others during your singleness.

These are three important ideas regardless of what season you find yourself in, but they are especially challenging if you are single and feeling like you cannot have an impact for Christ.

You do matter in the Kingdom of God!

If you are single, which of these three points is hardest for you? What can you do to increase your effectiveness for the Kingdom of God?

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history at San Diego Christian College, and Director of the college’s Dr. Henry Morris Leadership Program. She studies women’s history and Christian theology. Always seeking how to become a confident, successful Christian woman, she does not buy into the secular feminist mentality. Nali attends Journey Community Church in La Mesa, CA.

* Two free Spiritual Gifts tests are here and here.

Graphic adapted, image courtesy of pixabay.