Today we’re talking to Gretchen Magner! Gretchen says:
I guess I just got tired of waiting around for Mr. Right to come knocking on my door and decided to live the abundant life that Jesus has for me right now. I falsely believed that the abundant life only happened when I got married, but Jesus didn’t say that he came to give us and abundant life when we get married. He came to give us an abundant life right where we are! By partnering with God as a single woman, I find that the abundant life is available to me while I wait for Mr. Right. I also believe that by living an abundant life right now can only help attract the right man who the Lord has for me.
Gretchen is 26 years old and lives in Massachusetts. Presently, she is working as a teaching assistant at an elementary school and loves it! Gretchen also blogs at Grace Filled Journey and has a new online jewelry store called Reyèl. She partners with Haiti’s Jewels and Haitian artisans which helps create a stable income for men and women in Haiti.
Brenda: First, tell us a little about yourself – your name, age, where you live, and where you grew up.
Gretchen: Thank you so much Brenda! I’m so excited to be here blogging today as a part of the Single Women Making a Difference series. This is an amazing opportunity to meet other women also living purposefully, so thank you again.
My name is Gretchen Magner and I am a 26 years old. I currently live in Methuen, Massachusetts, about 30 minutes North of Boston. I grew up in Andover MA which is only a 5 minute drive from where I live now. Growing up I never fully appreciated the beauty of New England. As I got older I realized just how rich Massachusetts is in history and beauty. I feel so blessed to have been raised in such an amazing area of the United States.
Brenda: Where do you work, and how did you get started in your job?
Gretchen: Right now I work at an elementary school in Andover as a teaching assistant. After graduating college the economy still wasn’t doing great. I began my search for a job, hoping and praying to find something in Christian ministry. Those types of careers were hard to find though. After interviewing for a position at a church, I was extremely disappointed to get a call back saying that because I was straight out of college, the job had been given to someone with more experience.
Graduating was not the dream I thought it was going to be! It was a sticky situation of feeling lost, unsure of the future and somewhat disappointed.
It was October of 2012 when my mother, who is an elementary school teacher, informed me that her school was hiring. To be quite honest, working at a school was one of the last things I thought I would do! But I loved children and felt like God was opening a door for me. Praise God, I got the job! As I began working there, with no experience in a school system whatsoever, and a dream to still work in the ministry, the Lord laid this verse on my heart:
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17
Little did I know that this job was my ministry! He began a work in my heart and chiseled away the preconceived notions I had about Christian ministry. I’m now in my third year as a full-time teacher’s assistant and loving the time I get to spend with the children! God has done great things with this job and I’m looking forward to what He has in store for this year.
Brenda: Do you feel like your job is God’s calling on your life or do you hope it leads to something else one day?
Gretchen: While I absolutely love this job and adore working with kids in a school setting, I feel this is only God’s temporary calling on my life. This is where He has me right now, for a season. Will it lead to something else? Truthfully, I don’t know. I do know that whatever it leads to, I know that God is preparing me for something. It’s been extremely hard not knowing what may come next but I’m learning to trust His guidance each and every day. I’m trusting that the skills I’m acquiring now will fit perfectly together for whatever it is God calls me to next. It’s a prayer of mine that the things I’m learning now will one day help me to be a full-time wife and mother. This is definitely my dream!
Brenda: When you envisioned your life as a young girl, did you hope to have a career when you grew up or was your desire more for marriage and children or did you want both for your life?
Gretchen: As a child, I often had my head in the clouds! I was a dreamer with a big imagination and would play pretend all the time. I went from wanting to be a babysitter, to a vet, to an actress, to a gymnast within the span of a week! Being a mother one day was always a given though. I never thought I could be a mom full-time without having to have a career outside the home until after I graduated college. I always thought that I would have to work when I got married and had kids. It never dawned on me that marriage and motherhood could actually be a calling in and of itself until much later in life.
Brenda: What fires you up? What are you most passionate about in your life and in the world?
Gretchen: The thing that fires me up the most is living all of life for the glory of God! I realized that too often life gets compartmentalized into a sacred/secular split. Unfortunately for a while, I lived in this split and didn’t even realize it. I had my church life, school life, friendships, family and hobbies all placed in their own separate little boxes. Faith seemed like it was solely reserved for Sunday mornings and then the busyness, grueling labor of work set in the next day. I wasn’t the only one experiencing this phenomenon either.
It wasn’t until I became serious in my walk with the Lord that He began to peel away the false teachings I had embraced growing up (without even realizing it). As I began to realize that all of life should be lived to God’s glory, my worldview changed dramatically. I began to see things from a biblical perspective.
To coincide with this, I also get very fired up about protecting the rights of Christian men and women in our society today.
Brenda: Are you involved in serving in your community or church? What, if any, ministries or organizations are you a part of?
Gretchen: For a while I served at my local Pregnancy Center which is affiliated with my church in Andover. It was an amazing time of growth, learning, and fellowship. Being able to reach out to women in need, reaffirm their decision for choosing life for their child, and serving the community was such a blessing. After I got a job though, I was unable to keep serving there each week.
Now I like to help out when needed in different ways. Just this past June/July I went on my first overseas mission trip to Haiti with A Door to Hope! God has given me a heart for missions! I’ve just started working with Haiti’s Jewels, a social enterprise that partners with local Haitian artists that create and sell unique pieces of jewelry made from recycled materials such as aluminum, glass, majok seeds, coconut husks and leather.
Right now I’m also in the process of trying to organize a fundraiser at the school where I work to help raise money for new books at a school in Haiti! I’m praying that God will open doors for change.
Brenda: Tell us one thing you LOVE about being single and one thing you hate (or your biggest struggle) about being single.
Gretchen: Being single does have its benefits!! There is no other person to answer to or worry about and the time constraints in my life are few at the moment. I guess that having the freedom to make decisions on a whim, or serve overseas, or stay in and do absolutely nothing on a weekend is the best thing about being single. I do love having the freedom which comes with singleness!
The thing I hate about being single is that you get lonely at times. There isn’t anyone alongside you to enjoy ministry together, pray with, or just support you when the going gets tough.
Brenda: I imagine there are times when you feel content in your singleness and other times when you want to throw something across the room because of it, but overall, how do you feel about being a single woman? Is there more contentment and peace or more of the opposite?
Gretchen: To be honest, being single isn’t easy. I think that I’m harder on myself, though, than other people are about my being single at 26. While it’s true that there are some days when I do want to throw something across the room and cry my eyes out, I’ve come to a place where I find that I have peace about it… most of the time anyways. One thing is for sure though, the peace that I have doesn’t come from myself. For far too long I was frustrated, disappointed and even mad that I was still single. Thankfully I’ve come to a place where there is peace. That doesn’t mean I don’t do anything to try to “help along” this season of singleness. While I know that God is at work in my love life, I also know that I need to do my part too. I just have to remember not to lose that peace while keeping my eyes open for that special someone God has for me.
Brenda: Do you ever get mad at God because you are single? When bitterness, discontentment, confusion, and even jealousy creep into your mind, how to you deal with it? Do you have a go-to person or scripture verse or something else that helps?
Gretchen: Yes! I do get mad sometimes! I wonder if God has forgotten me or is working out everyone else’s love story but my own! It’s not easy to open up my Facebook page and see another engagement status, wedding photos and now even baby announcements from friends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely happy to hear these types of announcements, but there’s also that lingering question of “Where are you God?”
Whenever these feelings of bitterness or anger begin to creep up, I like to bring them to God in prayer and then thank Him for the numerous blessings He’s already given to me.
I try to remind myself that God is right here, next to me, working in my life and He sees the big picture; I don’t. The Scripture in Psalm 139:16 is a huge comfort to me. It says:
“And in Your book were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” Psalm 139:16b
He has ordained a specific time and place for marriage in my life and I have to trust in that timing. He’s never too early nor is He ever too late.
Brenda: How do you deal with loneliness?
Gretchen: Prayer, journaling and fellowship.
There’s nothing like crying out to God in prayer and pouring out your heart to Him! Often times it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders when I cry out in prayer. God isn’t offended when we get angry, go to Him with questions or just need to sort out our thoughts to Him. It feels so good to get my own thoughts back into perspective when I do get lonely and know that God is right there for me when I need Him.
I also keep a journal and find that writing down my thoughts helps me to fight against loneliness. Usually when I’m done, I end up praising God in prayer.
Lastly, to fight off loneliness, I keep in touch with friends. I know I can always call a friend, chat on the phone, and see if they want to go out to lunch together. Nothing helps me more than being able to sit with some good friends and just talk. A lot of the time we end up going through very similar situations and are able to support and encourage each other!
Brenda: Do you struggle with obsessing about guys and dating? Like, if you’re interested in a guy or if you just start dating someone new, do you think about him constantly, analyze every conversation, and get overly attached quickly? Is so (or if not) how do you deal with your emotions?
Gretchen: Yes definitely!! I have this horrible habit of even looking at a guy who I think may be single and thinking “could he be the one?” It’s awful!! I don’t know if anyone else struggles with this, but sometimes I think my radar is too far up!
There was this guy in college whom I adored and ended up even making an idol out of him. I truly believed God was telling me that he was the one. Ironically though I didn’t have any peace about it and began trying to control times when I could “bump” into him. Let’s just say it took some serious heart surgery on God’s part to show me where I went wrong.
This guy has since moved on and so have I.
Whenever I feel myself drifting in that direction of idolatry or obsessing, I quickly turn to God in prayer and try to remember those men as a brothers in Christ. Dealing with the emotions though is not easy, so prayer and staying in God’s Word are my two main methods of staying pure in heart.
Brenda: Our perception of you is that you are living a fulfilled, purposeful life as a single woman. You’re not waiting around for marriage, but fulfilling God’s call on your life now. What would you say is your secret to doing this?
Gretchen: I really don’t think there is a secret to this to be honest. I guess I just got tired of waiting around for Mr. Right to come knocking on my door and decided to live the abundant life that Jesus has for me right now. I falsely believed that the abundant life only happened when I got married but Jesus didn’t say that he came to give us and abundant life when we get married. He came to give us an abundant life right where we are! By partnering with God as a single woman, I find that the abundant life is available to me while I wait for Mr. Right. I also believe that by living an abundant life right now can only help attract the right man who the Lord has for me.
Brenda: What words of advice do you have for other single women who want to live with purpose now and not wait for marriage to start their lives?
Gretchen: Go out there and take steps of faith! Waiting is not passive, it’s active. Waiting doesn’t mean we sit down and do nothing while we hope for the right man to come along. Waiting means trusting in God’s timing and partnering with Him to advance His kingdom. This is the perfect time to deepen your relationship with the Lord and to prepare yourself for marriage. I encourage single women who are waiting to grab hold of the abundant life that Jesus has for you right now. There are so many things available to us if only we’d take those steps of faith. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Brenda: And some fun stuff!
Brenda: Which do you like best – Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (or all of it!)?
Gretchen: Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. (Especially Pinterest!)
Brenda: What’s your favorite drink?
Gretchen: Green Tea!
Brenda: Where would you want to live the rest of your life – beach or mountains?
Gretchen: Probably the beach, but I love the majesty of God’s mountains!
Brenda: Do you read more fiction or nonfiction?
Brenda: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Gretchen: I’m definitely more introverted than extroverted.
Brenda: What else do we need to know about you? Where can we connect with you online?
Gretchen: Feel free to come and visit me over at Grace Filled Journey. I just switched hosts and changed blog names so things are still a work in progress! Also feel free to visit my brand new online jewelry store, Reyèl. I partner with Haiti’s Jewels and Haitian artisans which in turn help create a stable income for men and women in Haiti.
Thanks so much for having me on the blog today!! It’s truly been a blessing to be here!!