Dear blogosphere, I’m tired of writing about myself and living in my own head all the time. Therefore, the month of April is dedicated to interviewing the fascinating people that surround me, on their perspectives on life, love, and being a 20-something. I get to talk to people who are single, dating, engaged, married, male, female, students, and working class – all in their 20s. I’m so excited I can hardly sit still. So without further ado, here’s post number one of many more to come. (And if you have questions you’d like to suggest, leave them in the comments below!)
Over the last five years, Debbie’s become one of my best friends and watching her blossom has been one of my absolute favorite things. If you want embarrassing stories about me, Debbie is your source, thanks to three years of living together. She currently lives in Berlin and works with CRU on college campuses as a STINTer. I love her for being willing to be my guinea pig and do the first interview. You’ll love her for her honesty and wisdom. Read on!
HMHW: What do you look for in a group of friends at this age?
Debbie: People that can be in community together, that can have fun together and laugh together and enjoy each other, but can also go deep with each other. People who can talk about things that we struggle with, things that we care about, what God’s doing in our lives. Also, people who are willing to go out and do things together; people who take initiative and are active.
HMHW: Fill in the blank: I’m a closet _____ fan.
Debbie: Christian rap. And black men, but can that answer be off the record?
HMHW: *laughing hysterically* Can that PLEASE be on the record?!
(Editor’s note: Debbie isn’t ashamed of liking black men as this response might imply. It’s just something she doesn’t believe many people would guess about her, much like Christian rap.)
HMHW: Do you have a type/believe in types?
Debbie: I do believe in types and that I have a type. But I also don’t at the same time because I don’t think that I’ve ever dated my type.
HMHW: What’s your type?
D: Someone who is tall, makes me laugh, is a believer, a leader – even just in his group of friends; someone people look up to. Someone who surrounds himself with other guys because then I know he’s being held accountable. Someone who’s adventurous – I’m not really that adventurous so I want someone who’s gonna pull me out of myself. Definitely someone more extroverted than I am.
HMHW: What is your definition of guarding your heart?
Debbie: Oh, this one’s really hard because I feel like I’ve been trying to learn this and I still don’t understand it. I would say it is not jumping into things too fast, and knowing that my heart is in God’s hands and not in the other person’s hands. Knowing that I can’t guard my heart, but that God guards my heart. Because if I put my heart in someone else’s hands, they could just do whatever they wanted with it and to an extent, that risk is necessary. But knowing that, ultimately, if they break up with me, God’s still got me. I’d say that that’s the only thing I’ve ever learned about guarding my heart.
HMHW: Do you have career goals? Do you see yourself remaining in the same career for the rest of your life?
Debbie: I want to join staff [with CRU] and I really feel like I’ll be doing that for the rest of my life. I also want to be a mom – that’s sort of my other career goal and obviously that’s a lifetime commitment. This has always been my dream and now that I’m actually doing it, I know this is where I want to stay for the rest of my life.
HMHW: Do you believe in “the one”? And if so, do you believe that the person is chosen for you or that you choose them?
Debbie: Yes, I do. I think that there’s one person God has for us, but there could be more than one. Say someone’s spouse dies; there could be another person for them. I also don’t believe that if I do something wrong I’m going to miss meeting the one – I feel like God has sovereign control over that. I believe that I have to be able to choose that person. But I also think – because God has known who I’m going to marry since the day I was born – that, in a way, I’m waiting to meet them.
HMHW: What’s the best/worst advice you’ve ever been given on the topic of relationships?
Debbie: I don’t know if this is the best advice – that’s pretty lofty. But this is something I decided to adopt halfway through college and it’s something that’s been useful to teach me how to step out and risk. The advice is to always go on a first date. You never know what’s going to happen. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but I think guys really appreciate the fact that you’re not taking things so seriously. Sometimes I freak out about it, but I still go, and that’s just so good for me to take the risk.
HMHW: How do you make decisions about your future in this season of life? Has that changed from before?
Debbie: I definitely feel like I’m unique when it comes to this. I’ve always known in advance, at least for big decisions, that it was what I was supposed to do. It didn’t come without prayer, but it was always very clear. In some situations, I feel like God says, “You can decide, both of these options could be good for you.” I think it’s also based on my passions – he’s used them to give me direction a lot.
HMHW: What’s your definition of biblical masculinity and femininity?
Debbie: First, I do believe we were made for different purposes. We’re equal but we’re not the same. In terms of femininity, we were made to be helpers in a marriage relationship, and to nurture children. But even as unmarried women, we can nurture “spiritual children” too (see Isaiah 54:1 NASB). We were made to display beauty. We are strong. I just heard a guy explain why men don’t come into ministry in comparison to women. He mentioned that it was because it seemed like women could connect with God so much better than men, most especially because of our emotional makeup as well as the femininity of the Bible’s language sometimes. For example, the idea of a love letter from God can sometimes be hard for a man to grasp.
With masculinity, I believe a man should be a leader; the head just like Christ. He’s supposed to love the woman as she submits to him. I believe he should be strong and willing to fight battles; willing to fight for me. Someone who takes initiative, who has goals and is ambitious, is humble, prays, and submits to the Lord.
HMHW: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last year?
Debbie: First, I’m learning about showing weakness and letting God be the one who shines in my weakness, along with his grace. His grace comes in because if I have to learn to fail, I have to also learn to accept his grace as well as grace from the people around me. That’s the hardest thing – I do not understand God’s grace. What does that look like? How do I receive that from people, and God? But in my weakness, he gets to shine. And I’ve definitely seen that in my life since I’ve been [in Berlin] because there are so many things that I can’t control. I’m learning the art of being willing to fail and accept God’s grace but also being willing to succeed because I get to see God work through me.
HMHW: What part does church play in your life? Would you say you have a balanced social circle both within and outside of the church?
Debbie: Currently my church plays a very small role. Being overseas and going to a German-speaking church means I have little interaction with the people in my church. It shouldn’t be that way, but unfortuantely that is the way it has worked out. So church doesn’t play a big role right now. I use it a lot for language learning, actually. So if you think about my social life in terms of ministry and non ministry it is very unbalanced… I spend a lot of time with my teammates, and I have very little community outside of that, except for the students we hang out with who are also my friends.
HMHW: Do you feel a pressure to be thinking about/preparing for marriage based on your age? If so, is that pressure from within or without?
Debbie: When you meet men, you’re always wondering if they’re someone you could date or marry. Your mind is constantly running, and you just want it to stop so you can have a normal conversation with the person simply because he is a person! And I hate that so much. But it’s definitely one of the challenges of being this age. The pressure is definitely from within. Every time I get out of my head and actually talk to someone about it, they always remind me that I’m still young and have a full life ahead of me. And it’s okay for me to be thinking about wanting to get married, but I don’t need to be worrying about it. I don’t have a personal preference to get married in my 20s. I would like to, but I’m not attached to the idea. I just want to marry the right person, and if that means I don’t find them till I’m 30, that’s okay with me.
There’s also pressure from living in this life where every week there’s someone new on Facebook who’s gotten engaged. It leaves you wondering what’s wrong with you or why everyone else is in a serious relationship. Also from my personal life, in my extended family I’m the next in line to get married. So there’s that pressure also, but it’s all from me and not from any of my family members.
HMHW: How would you define purity and how does that come into play in your life?
Debbie: It’s physical and mental. It’s not just about what you’re doing with your body but also what you’re thinking about and watching and listening to and what’s coming out of your mouth. I’m not gonna have sex before marriage so anything that causes me to struggle in my efforts towards that will be cut out before marriage. It’s not about how close you can get to the line.
HMHW: What have you learned about discerning and following God’s will?
Debbie: Woo. Big question. I just finished this book called “The Finishers” by Roger Hershey. I really like his interpretation of what God’s will is. He says that while God is interested in the specific things, his overarching will is the great commission and bringing himself glory. That’s what he calls us to but, obviously, it looks different from person to person. Everything else should support that overall goal.
HMHW: Do you think you’re making the most of your single years?
Debbie: In high school, being in a relationship was my idol and it carried on even into my freshman year of college. I struggled with wanting male attention and subsequently doing things to get that attention. And then God took me through a season of working towards finding victory in overcoming that idol. It totally changed my view of it and being single then gained a purpose. I began to realize that I had dreams – like coming to Berlin on STINT – and I had things that I’d like to do on my own. So I embraced those things, and as men came along that I wanted to date, I explored those options. But it wasn’t an idol anymore. I’ve also realized that there’s a part of me that actually really likes being single. There are times when I don’t want to date anyone – I feel like I’m way too selfish and would much prefer to watch movies alone, and lay in my bed and read books, and just enjoy my free time by myself. All that changes when there’s a significant other.
HMHW: What did you believe about love a year ago that you don’t believe anymore?
Debbie: I used to believe that I’ll never really find someone who’s right for me – that I’ll have to just love them, and settle. But I’m trying to learn to think differently about that.
HMHW: What are your thoughts on modesty and how does that affect your daily living?
Debbie: I wear what I think looks good for me and what’s comfortable. I’ve always tried to be a modest person by not showing a ton of skin, but I’m not going to choose to not wear a tank top, for example, because I’m concerned about what other people will think. And if I don’t feel comfortable then maybe it’s because somewhere inside I know it’s immodest. But I really don’t think about it on a regular basis. And I’ve had people thank me for the way I dress because they feel like it’s very modest yet still attractive.
HMHW: What’s your most embarrassing dating story?
Debbie: Well there are two parts to this story. He lived in my freshman dorm and was someone that I shouldn’t have been dating in the first place. We were hanging out one night, and I was feeling really sick. He was being really serious, telling me that he liked me and waiting for me to respond to that. And all of a sudden, I’m like, “I’m going to throw up.” So I go the bathroom and he comes in with me and thankfully, I don’t end up puking. But he starts laughing and when I ask why, he says, “I can’t believe I told you I like you and you’re throwing up! This is your response?” He obviously knew that wasn’t true.
A couple weeks later, we went out to dinner with a few other people. My friend’s driving in combination with the restaurant food made me sick. When we got to the dorms I asked to be let out because I needed to head to the bathroom as fast as possible. But before I reached the door, I just threw up on the ground. He was standing right behind me and the wind was blowing in his direction, so my puke was blowing at him. And I thought to myself, “Okay, here is a guy I like and I just puked on him. This is really embarrassing.” Thankfully, he got over it. And thankfully, I got over him.
HMHW: Do you believe in the ability to be “ready” for marriage? Do you have factors that you think will indicate your readiness?
Debbie: I think there is a sense of readiness for marriage but it looks different for every person. But I also think that there’s no way you’re going to be completely ready for marriage because you are constantly changing. So you can’t ever be truly ready. I think it also plays into my belief in “the one” – when the one comes, you’re going to be ready. I think you’re always on a journey and the things you learn today can help you in marriage. As long as I choose to walk with God in the process, I don’t think I’ll walk into marriage completely unready.
HMHW: What are your opinions on pursuing/being pursued with regards to gender roles?
Debbie: I’m very old-fashioned, so in most cases I would say the man pursues. I’m the type of person who holds on to the idea that he’ll be the one who initiates all the “firsts” – first date, first kiss, first time we hold hands, etc. I’ll reciprocate all of those things if I feel the same way – I still get a choice. And I won’t let him put in all the effort alone, I’ll obviously initiate too. Because I’m pursuing his heart just as much as he’s pursuing mine, but he takes the initiative first. But people don’t call it that, really. It’s something else…
HMHW: Like being intentional, initiating conversation?
Debbie: Yes! There’s definitely a need for reciprocity otherwise why would he want to pursue me any further? I have to respond to his pursuit or it won’t go anywhere.
HMHW: What would you say has been the hardest part of being a 20-something?
Debbie: Trying to figure out what I really want and what I’m really good at. It’s fun because you’re experimenting and trying out different things but hard because you think you know what you want/are good at, and all of a sudden, a whole new world is opened up to you. And the process begins again. Also, the transition from being a student to working is difficult to make in my mind. I feel like my future is a little bit uncertain.