Kissing Frogs: A Conversation with Kathleen Hardaway
- Janet Chismar Senior Editor, News & Culture
- 2004 10 Aug
One of the fun things I get to do each year is attend a convention called CBA, where a bunch of Christian authors, bookstore owners, and journalistic types gather to learn about the latest releases. This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting Kathleen Hardaway, a bright and funny woman who happens to be single. Her book, I Kissed a Lot of Frogs But the Prince Hasn’t Come, is one of the most insightful I have read lately. Check out our conversation.
Janet: Two conflicting messages I hear all the time are, “Wait on God and He’ll bring the man to you” and “You need to go looking, or even move to a new city where the men are.” What is your take on waiting versus actively pursuing?
Kathleen: Everybody’s different. People try to put God in a mold, you know? “If you do this and you do this, it equals a man. One plus one equals two.” That is not how God necessarily works.
Janet: Another formula I hear frequently is: “As soon as you surrender your desire to marry, then the man will come.”
Kathleen: Right. I surrendered 20 years ago. Hasn’t happened for me yet. Now for some person, God may say, “I’m waiting for you to surrender” and then He does bring a mate. But that doesn’t mean He’ll do that in your life. I get that in radio interviews – I’ve had people say, “I waited until I was 40, or I waited until this, and I just know it will happen for you then.” They don’t know what God’s going to do in my life. And yet they’re just trying to be encouraging.
God works differently for each person, although He’s not going to work outside of His Word. For some He may say, “I need you to go to a singles group in a church.” Or, like with me, for years I was at a church that had about two men in the entire congregation. I felt He wanted me to serve there and that’s where He wanted me. Interestingly enough, I feel I’m ready for a change and I desire more. But I’m only going to move if that’s what the Lord wants from me.
Janet: It’s kind of funny that you just used the word “desire.” Another thing I hear all the time is: “If it’s the desire of your heart to be married, God will grant that desire.” What do you think?
Kathleen: That is a number one question! “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” You know what I started doing? I started praying a number of years ago for Him to change my desire. And He has, but that doesn’t mean you don’t go through a certain season. Since Christmas last year, I was doing great, and things have been wonderful. Then, all of a sudden, I saw my niece and my nephew. They’re getting married and it’s hard to fight that I’m the old maid aunt. I don’t think they necessarily view me that way, but that was how I was feeling. A friend of mind said, “That’s one day in a lifetime of events; one event in a lifetime of events.” And it was. It was difficult, but it’s over. I’m happy today, you know? There are seasons.
Kathleen: Or, like Valentine’s Day. I used to pretend the day didn’t exist. Everybody but me was getting flowers. But you know what I’ve decided to do? I’ve decided to encourage somebody else. When we encourage others, we don’t usually feel sorry for ourselves.
Janet: Do you ever think that there’s a time to quit hoping? To believe that God has said “No” to our desire to marry?
Kathleen: I think some people are very, very content with being single, but most women I talk to are not. I love the apostle Paul where he talks about “I’m content with whatever state I’m in.” Another verse that I absolutely love says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” That’s kind of my prayer, that last verse. I mean, think about it. As we’re growing in the Lord, we’re growing in whatever He’s called us to. I believe that’s contentment. But that does not mean there are not times when it’s difficult. That does not mean there are not times when it’s painful. That does not mean there’s not hurt. I know a 50-year-old woman who never thought she was going to be married – a guy comes into her life, he was widowed, and now she’s got an instant family. Anyway, again, I think it depends. I wish I could say, “I’ve arrived at contentment!” But that is not true. It’s a process. It’s a process.
Janet: I know. I am very happy with my life, but there is still a part of me that longs for companionship, a godly man to grow old with. But only someone who loves the Lord.
Kathleen: Right, right. A lady saw me on television and e-mailed me and said – you could just read the hurt in her life – she said, “Please tell whoever you talk to it’s much, much better being single than being in the wrong marriage.” She told me, “I thought this man was a Christian, but now, I’m living in hell.” She absolutely was devastated, you could tell.
Janet: A pastor at my church back in D.C. used to say, “Better to be single than married to a jerk.”
Kathleen: That is it exactly. I was going through a period of time around 30-ish when it was really hard being single. I was also going to a prayer group. By the time I got out of there – they were talking about how difficult their marriages were – I thought, “I am doing just fine.” You know, I think that’s what Paul’s talking about. It’s better to be content. You hear a lot about married women who are lonely too. Their husbands are not what they thought. Their marriages are very painful; their husbands say very hurtful things.
Janet: Speaking of Paul, he says it’s better to marry than burn with passion. How do we deal with this? We have passions, and want to marry, but it’s not so easy to just rustle up a husband. I mean they had arranged marriages back then. How do we handle the physical stuff?
Kathleen: That is absolutely a process, because I do not have a perfect life. Some people haven’t “kissed a lot of frogs.” I did, and so it’s kind of like eating chocolate cake. You know what it tastes like and so you have to deal with that. But as a believer, if you love Him with all your heart, soul and mind, if you have passion for God, if the Holy Spirit dwells in you, then you can have a passion for purity. I don’t understand women who are sleeping around a lot, then in church the next day. I know women like that. They’ve gotten themselves into a trap. They’re so dependent on a man. I understand that – I once was dependent on a man to make me happy. But it doesn’t take long to realize that your joy has to be in the Lord. Psalm 16:11 says, “In His presence is fullness of joys.” In His presence.
We’re just in a sex-crazed society. Look at the show, “Sex in the City.” All of a sudden, women are just throwing it to the wind so that we can be just like men. “I don’t care about you, I’m just going to go to bed with you.” This is the image our younger generation is getting, and yet they are miserable. They are unhappy, because as Jesus says in the Beatitudes, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be satisfied. There’s where the satisfaction is. The satisfaction is in the Lord, and in righteousness, and holiness and purity.
It is a process and you have to die to those desires and to yourself, and you also don’t trigger them. Second Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee youthful lusts.” Flee cable or romance novels or soap operas – whatever your triggers are. There’s a point where I will walk out of the movie theater. Why bring up those desires? You have to think about what you’re feeding your mind. Don’t be daydreaming. Women so much desire a relationship and romance; you know that’s all connected. That’s our nature. God, I believe, made us that way, to be relational. So, you know, when I talk to the Lord, I am so honest. I tell him, “This is hard.”
Janet: We should close by talking about your book. Great title! What prompted it?
Kathleen: That is a fabulous question because even though it’s written with a humorous title, it’s a very serious subject for countless women. Over 44 percent of women are single. That is equivalent to 47 million women. And that number’s growing. I had never thought about writing a book. The idea totally came from God. There are great books on being significantly single, but that’s not where I’ve been most of my single life. So I could relate more to this title. Plus I wanted to be able to crossover more and reach anybody who’s lost. I wanted them to be able to pick it up and not automatically think, “Oh, a Christian book. I’m sure not gonna read that.”
Janet: [laughs] Exactly! Now, actually getting into the book – is it written more for those who never have married? Or would single moms relate too?
Kathleen: Chapter 3 is called “Did Your Prince Leave?” There are three heart-wrenching stories about a single mom, a woman who was divorced, and then a widow. Probably the underlying thread about all three of those women is that joy does come. For one of the ladies, it looked like a hopeless situation. Her husband gave her divorce papers on her 40th birthday. She had not worked in 15 years. I didn’t mince words with her testimony … about the tears and the hurt and the heartbreak. Yet, today, her children are all grown, they’re walking with the Lord and it’s just so neat to see how the Lord provided for her. I’m passionate whether a woman’s been divorced or a single mom, because even though I don’t have that same situation, I can still have that same heart.
Kathleen Hardaway is an author and speaker with a passion to encourage and equip women to be all that God calls them to be. She exhorts women to never give up, dream big, and live the life God created them to live. She has been featured on At Home Live and Celebration’s television programs. She has also been the guest on Midday Connection and many other radio broadcasts. Kathleen is on staff at Precept Ministries International. She has been the producer and director of Kay Arthur’s nationally syndicated television program, “How Can I Live?” You can learn more about her book here.
You can visit her website at www.kathleenhardaway.com