the single sessions

A Conversation with Rachel Gardner

Rachel Gardner

Back at last with another installment of “the single sessions”. Today I’m introducing you to Rachel Gardner. I met Rachel last year in Dallas when she was a senior at SMU. Here’s a short snippet of her story:

I currently work at Walt Disney World in Florida, moved there right after college, because I am probably the biggest Disney fan you will ever meet. I am in love with The Walt Disney Company and its commitment to excellent storytelling! I delight in bringing joy and the love of Christ to people from around the world. I have been single for 22 years, that’s right, my whole life. No boyfriends, never even been asked on a date (unless you count once to prom or one date dash, but that’s not conventional). It never really bothered me in middle or high school, but in college suddenly my singleness became shockingly apparent. It’s been a roller coaster ride of feeling confident in myself one minute to feeling sad because I fear I will be alone all my life the next.

So without further adieu, meet Rachel.

Name: Rachel Gardner
City, St: Orlando, FL
Age: 22
Relationship Status: Single
Profession: Cast Member at Walt Disney World ®

LN: What do you feel like God is calling you to in this season?

RG: Due to my lifelong passion for all things Disney it has always been a dream of mine to work for The Walt Disney Company. A month after graduating college I moved to Florida to work at Walt Disney World® and I couldn’t be happier making magic every day! I excitedly plan my future and wherever my Disney career takes me. I am a dreamer. I love dreaming of new projects, new places, and new ideas, and the freedom that comes with that. I believe God thoughtfully creates passions in us for people and causes, and uses those to inspire the dreams that make a difference in this world.

Keeping up with the family and friends I love so deeply is extremely important and being far away has challenged me to make the effort. I try to make sure we talk regularly and not just about superficial things, but the reality of what’s happening in our lives right now, just as if we were gathered together like always. We are learning to sustain each other, even from miles apart.

In addition, I am learning to embrace the peace that comes with singleness. I don’t long to be restless. So often in this age of instant gratification we feel the need to be constantly occupied with something, but I’m glad my time isn’t occupied with a relationship and the responsibilities that go with it (though certainly nothing is wrong with those, it’s just something that doesn’t have to concern me right now).

LN: What are some things (experiences, relationships, pursuits, etc.) in your life that singleness has made possible?

RG: In college it was helping grow my sorority, Sigma Phi Lambda, and spending quality one-on-one time with new members, as well as new freshman. Going from high school to college is a hard transition and it was important to me to be that friend or coffee date to any girl who felt like they needed someone to talk to. “Phi Lamb” was exactly what I looked for coming to college and couldn’t find, so being able to help create this beautiful community of Sisters for the Lord was extremely important to me. I rejoiced in being there to welcome anyone interested in joining our family with open arms.

Now earlier, when I said I love Disney you’re probably thinking “oh that’s nice” but you have no idea how much I really do love this company. Its unparalleled storytelling, creation of places where children and families can have fun together, and overall joy that comes from experiencing the magic never cease to make my heart swell. For me, it is that special, indescribable feeling I have when I hear Walt Disney’s voice and vision and love for his company, or when I see the look on a child’s face when they meet their favorite character, or when I watch fireworks at the Magic Kingdom® , with tears streaming down my face, because I am reminded of the beauty and true heart that is Disney. It tells me everything will be okay, encourages everyone to achieve their best, that good triumphs over evil, to celebrate everyday, and that dreams come true. My love for Christ and Disney harmoniously come together because delivering excellent Guest Service is simultaneously showing the love of Christ and joy I have because of Him to everyone I meet.

I can move to a new state, follow my dream, support my friends and family with frequent and long texts and phone calls, and commit to making my relationship with Christ as strong and fruitful as it can be, because even with someone else it doesn’t change my commitment to Christ. I don’t know whether I’m “called to singleness” forever or not, but I know who lights my path and that Blessed Assurance is all I need.

LN: What does Christian dating look like for you/your friends?

RG: Confession time: I have been single for 22 years, that’s right, my whole life.

So I can’t speak to personal experience on this one, but I do have friends in amazing relationships. I enjoy learning from them – hearing about their dates, difficulties, triumphs – and building a repertoire of how I would respond to situations in a potential relationship.

It looks like selflessness, honoring the other person with kindness and humility. It looks like asking girls on dates face to face, taking initiative in what you do together, but allowing for suggestions and spontaneity. It looks like being your truest self, and every emotion that comes with that, in front of the other person and he or she loving you in spite of it. Finally, it looks like honest conversations about faith, forgiveness, and the future.

LN: What are some challenges of being single?

RG: In college, over the course of three and a half years, I had four best friends who were all Christians and all in serious relationships and it hit me: now THIS was something I desired and hadn’t seen before among my peers: a committed dating relationship with Christ at the center. Suddenly my singleness became shockingly apparent and rather bothersome. It’s been a roller coaster ride of feeling confident in myself one minute to feeling sad because I fear I will be alone all my life the next. And why is that a fear? Is it because marriage is a biblical desire and we don’t want to miss out? Or because we were built for relationships and are simply broken people who desire companionship?

Going to church alone is difficult, because even with friends you can still feel like a third wheel among them or the church as a whole. Finding friends to go with helps, but sometimes they aren’t available and it’s only you. Somedays it’s empowering and others you just ache because your soul wants for something so meaningful, but so seemingly unattainable.

Feeling like everyone in the world but you is in a relationship and being constantly reminded of it: songs on the radio, friends and family, and the worst, browsing through social media. Whether it’s the seemingly endless slew of engagements and weddings or the alternating ads for engagement rings coupled with match.com single guys plastered across my screen, the reminders are endless.

In all seriousness, it is hard to hear from others “make the most of this season of singleness” because I feel this enormous pressure to be doing something great with every second of my time and if I don’t, it’s wasted.

The questions we single people often ask ourselves usually sound like:

  • “Am I desirable?”
  • “Will someone still love me when they see what a broken person I am?”
  • “Why does this happen for other people and not me?”
  • “Will I feel satisfied when I’m finally married?”

The beautiful thing about all of these questions (and probably any others you can think of) is that they can be answered and fulfilled in Christ.

  • You have been desirable to God since day one. Psalm 139:13-16
  • He knows you completely and loves you perfectly. Ephesians 2:4-7, Romans 8:35-39
  • We are so controlling with our seemingly finite time, but God works in ways beyond our comprehension to bring about our good (and if you think back on it aren’t we thankful!) Ecclesiastes 3:11
  • That restlessness in your soul is for something greater than you are now – that is a yearning to know your God more! Psalm 42:1-2

At least as I pondered these thoughts about why I felt restless, why I felt something was missing, I realized I overlooked the crucial fact that ONLY Jesus can truly satisfy our souls no matter our stage in life. His love for us is so deep, so committed, and so selfless, more than any we could find on this earth – that Love is everything. Humbling myself at the foot of the cross, unashamed because of His great mercy toward me, I pray to be fully satisfied in Him alone. Revel in knowing you have everything you need because you have Jesus.

LN: How can your friends and/or your church do a better job of loving you in the season you are in?

RG:

  • Let off the pressure. I have been asked consistently since the eighth grade, “do you have a boyfriend?” or “are you seeing anyone?” WHY does that have to be a prerequisite question for where you are in your life? Why not focus on you, your accomplishments, your friendships, and dreams you have for your future?
  • Let us share our strengths and weaknesses in singleness with you. Ask us how we are doing, in the appropriate situations, instead of waiting for us to bring it up. I find freedom in sharing my weaknesses with those I’m closest to because it allows for Jesus to enter in those moments and transform you though the work of your community {2 Corinthians 12:7-9}. My heart is overjoyed when my friends ask how I am REALLY doing. Bottling up feelings will only make you feel isolated and helpless. Let those who know and love you help you through the difficult times and celebrate the victories with you, too.
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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

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