Single women don't plant churches
Or do they? An interview with Tania Harris
In an all-encompassing interview with pastor, author and founder of God Conversations – a ministry that equips people to recognise and respond to Gods voice, Tania Harris told Eternity about church planting as a single woman, what it’s like being single in the church, and how we can know if we’re hearing God’s voice.
What does God sound like?
“We often think it’s a big booming voice, but it’s a spiritual voice – the voice of the Holy Spirit.” – Tania Harris
“[My] goal is to help Christians know what God sounds like and how to know if it’s him when he speaks.
“We often think it’s a big booming voice, but it’s a spiritual voice – the voice of the Holy Spirit; He speaks in words, in pictures – but I think the key issue is that everyone can hear Gods voice, but the issue is discerning whether it is [God’s voice].”
“Who wants to be the poster girl for singleness?” – Tania Harris
Tania travels the globe teaching others that some of the key ways for understanding this are looking at the various ways He’s spoken in the past, and whether it’s consistent with his character and His nature, and testing it out within the accountability of the local church.
The first time she was invited to speak on the topic of singleness she asked herself, ‘Who wants to be the poster girl for singleness? Are you sure you don’t want to learn about how to hear Gods voice?’
“The God of Christianity chose to be incarnated as a single person” – Tania Harris
But convicted that there weren’t many role models in that space, she went ahead and gave the talk. That was the start of a journey towards more speaking gigs around the idea of the ‘Christian single’.
“The God of Christianity chose to be incarnated as a single person, and the key founder of the early church was a single man, so we should be able to ‘do singleness’ really well,” says Tania, but she points out that often in church life we don’t talk about this very much.
What are the some of the difficulties being single?
“I thought that I needed a husband to fulfil my destiny, and if I’m honest looking back, I was looking for a man to rescue me.” – Tania Harris
“We talk a lot about marriage being wonderful, and it is, but we don’t talk about flourishing in every season.
“I thought that I needed a husband to fulfil my destiny, and if I’m honest looking back, I was looking for a man to rescue me. Because I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone, I didn’t want to lead, I wanted to follow, it was the model I’d been raised with.”
She points out that she sees a similar mindset amongst young women, but it’s not just within the church, it’s actually a product of our history.
“Most of society was built around this model. For years there were laws saying that women couldn’t own property, you couldn’t earn your own wages, you couldn’t have freedom to travel, so the solution for women was to get married…so we still have it in our psyche that we need a man, and then I’ll do what God’s called me to do.”
What’s some practical advice you can give to someone who’s struggling being single?
“…the truth is that singles need relationships as much as anybody.” – Tania Harris
“Sometimes it is difficult being single, and I think one of the important things is to validate the pain, and the ache of it. I think it’s so important to recognise this is a common need of humanity, not to be alone. And that longing is real, and it’s valid.
“After we’ve validated it, we need to look at how we manage it. And the truth is that singles need relationships as much as anybody.
“I think we can learn from healthy marriages in the way that they invest time in their relationship and protect them, they carve out date time. So for the single person, we need to identify those who are in our inner circle and we need to protect and develop those relationships, and we need to live in intimacy too.
“It won’t involve the sexual aspect, but we need to learn what it means to know someone fully and be known by someone else because this is how God refines us. So I can put into practice all of the skills of a married person…well, nearly all,” she laughs.
“We make sure that we identify those times that are potentially lonely, and we carve out time and take initiative.” – Tania Harris
“Practically, we also need to manage the times that are difficult such as Christmas day, birthdays and holidays. And I think the single person has to actually plan these a lot more because they don’t happen naturally.
“So in my life, my best friend and I look after each other at Christmas time and visit each others’ families, and we often talk about what we’re going to do for our birthdays almost 12 months in advance. We make sure that we identify those times that are potentially lonely, and we carve out time and take initiative.
“Sometimes, to be honest, if I know I’m a little bit vulnerable or fragile, I might withdraw from one too many baby showers. I make a choice to protect my emotional health and this is still an area that’s difficult, because I’d still like to get married.”
Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
“There was a turning point for me…I realised that I’m just so sick of being jealous of everyone else.” – Tania Harris
“The truth is that I’d love to get married one day; I want a husband, but I don’t actually need one to live the fullness of what God has for me, and I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learnt from being a single.
“You can fulfil Gods purpose for you, regardless of your status and marriage is an incredible blessing, but whether it comes or whether it doesn’t, I’m still going to live the best life ever.
“I’m going to live the best life regardless of what happens.” – Tania Harris
“There was a turning point for me – I remember driving along thinking about the women I wanted to be like. I wanted to be the mum with the wonderful husband, the home, and the kids and I was just feeling so sorry for myself, but then I realised that I’m just so sick of being jealous of everyone else, I really am.
“So I made a choice in that moment, that I’m going to live the best life regardless of what happens. That was a pivotal moment for me, and I think that’s a key mindset we need to have in order to live fully in the status that we find ourselves.”More